The Under-19s secured Ireland’s second underage international win over France in the space of a few hours as full-back David O’Mahony did all the scoring in today’s 13-10 triumph in Marcoussis.
Following up on the Under-18s' success in Gloucester earlier in the day, the Ireland Under-19s were victorious in the first match of their double header with their French counterparts. The second game takes place on Saturday evening.
Coached by Peter Malone and Kieran Campbell, Ireland took some time to settle into the game and it difficult to stamp their authority on the first half. They did take a 3-0 lead when Young Munster full-back David O'Mahony was successful with a 12th minute penalty.
However, France responded in a positive manner with Romuald Seguy converting a 23rd minute try from winger Martin Laveau who was put over out wide on the right. The out-half also split the posts with a late penalty to give the French a 10-3 advantage at the break.
The hosts, whose side was dominated by players from the French Central Academy, tried to kick on, but Ireland seized the momentum and really stepped it up a gear or two in the second half.
Malone's youngsters had France on the back foot for long periods. 15 minutes in, Ireland were certain they had scored a try but referee Emanuele Tomo blew for a knock-on just before the grounding.
O'Mahony, already an Ulster Bank League debutant this season, landed a second successful penalty within five minutes to reduce the deficit to 10-6.
With the French appearing to tire, Ireland, who were fiercely competitive at the breakdown, raised their level of performance yet again. Good work from the pack, with back rowers Greg Jones, Neil Reilly and Max Deegan to the fore, produced quality possession for the backs.
Crisp passing and interplay between John Poland, Jimmy O'Brien, captain Paul Kiernan, Conor O'Brien and Jacob Stockdale kept Ireland on the front foot and their efforts were rewarded in the 65th minute.
Scrum half Poland used ruck ball to feed number 8 Deegan, right on the French 22-metre line, and he handed off an initial defender, avoided the clutches of a second and then sent a terrific one-handed offload to O'Mahony who capped a fine personal performance by touching down in the left corner. The full-back added a cracking conversion for good measure, giving his side a three-point lead.
The impressive Ireland pack held firm with Andrew Porter and Conor Kenny causing all sorts of problems for their opposite numbers. Ireland finished the stronger, pressing for a second try close to the French line before the final whistle came.
Although pleased with the result, there was also the realisation in the Irish camp that there is much room for improvement in all departments before the rematch at the same venue on Easter Saturday (kick-off 7pm local time/6pm Irish time).
Referee: Emanuele Tomo (Italy)