Colaiste Iognaid’s First XV and greater training squad plied their rugby wares in Wales over the weekend, saving their very best for last.

Downed 12-3 by Bridgend’s rugby academy several hours after their late-night arrival, they chased up the narrow loss with a five-try 29-10 win over Ammanford’s under18s on Sunday.

jes tour 2 350The Jes’ sits well-placed in the Connacht Schools superleague at present with a 100percent success record. While table-toppers Marist College Athlone lead the competition, last year’s Cup-League double champions have played five matches to the Jes’ four to date.

Based for the Thursday to Monday Welsh tour in seaside tourist town Pendine on the southern coast’s midwest the commute to Bridgend, via Swansea, took longer than the game. The facilities however – carpet-like manicured surface, a gymnasium to rival the Connacht seniors, and refurbished dressing rooms – spoke volumes to the pedigree rugby commands in Wales.

Saturday extended farther, to Cardiff for the test match against Argentina. Argentina throughout looked the better for having taken a couple of hidings in the southern hemisphere this year, and Jes’ College co-coach Luke O’Donnell (as well as a number of his teenage rugby pundits) was vocal in asserting the gap between northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere rugby extended beyond plate tectonics.

Sunday’s fixture took in Ammanford, a sprawling village town north of nearby Caermarthen.

For 30 minutes the Jes’ returned to the sort of performance which dominated Sligo Grammar a month ago but struggled to register any points beyond a penalty goal. Sustained pressure finally breached the ramparts and midfielders Eanna Ryder, Conor Lowndes and outside backs Cian Shaughnessy and Jamie Kelly surged past tiring defenders. 

jes tour1 350Dara Byrne and Michael Greaney shone as the pick of the heavies.

The Morfa Bay Outdoor Education facility hosts a mixture of school groups across primary and secondary levels and was more than adequate a facility for 25 teenagers. While proximity to the nearest urban centre added a degree of urban isolation (not to mention phone and web coverage), the complimentary breakfasts on offer would rival Galway city’s best. The greater shame likely laid with those having to travel to Pendine for such a fantastic feast.

Liam Barry, Limerick-based rugby critic, involuntary adolescent psychologist and tour driver landed in with Galway’s Jes’ College south of Limerick city en route to Rosslare, did the duration, and dropped the tour party back in Galway an hour ahead of schedule some four days later – our thanks to his firm, his vehicle, and his contribution throughout.

Paul Kilraine, Tomas MacAoidh, and Luke O’Donnell wish to commend both the student party and their parents on a successful tour, and wish them all the best for the remaining league and ensuing cup competitions.

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