Michael Silke


IRELAND U-20s proved much too strong for a willing but limited Italy when winning their RBS Six Nations Junior Championship match played in near ideal conditions at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Friday night. However, the home nation should really have won this ELECTRIC IRELAND tie in much more convincing fashion, particularly after getting early points on the scoreboard. But they lacked the necessary intensity and sharpness to dole out a heavy defeat on the visitors.

Ross Byrne opened the scoring with a home penalty inside two minutes but then missed a straight-forward placekick moments later. Almost immediately his leisurely clearance was blocked down but the Italians could not capitalise. Ireland cut the visitors’ defence to shreds approaching the quarter-hour with Cian Kelleher finishing off a well-worked move for a try which outhalf Byrne converted. A delightful reverse flick by Max Abbott to Jack O’Donoghue yielded a penalty soon afterwards which Byrne slotted over and, with Ireland 13-0 to the good, a hiding looked the likely outcome for Italy, particularly with home wings Kelleher and Adam Byrne in sizzling form. Their best scoring chance fell to Dan Goggin but he could not control Ross Byrne’s grubber kick between the uprights and thus Ireland did not add to their tally before halftime.

Fillippo Buscemo missed a rare Italy opportunity when his penalty was wide soon after the restart. A bit of mild ‘hooshing’ was flagged by a touch-judge and referee Craig Maxwell-Keyes (who looked even younger than many of the players!) deemed it necessary to sin bin Ireland’s Kelleher and Italy’s Buscema. An angled Ross Byrne chip just eluded the grasp of Rory Moloney when a try by the Buccaneers player would surely have roused the crowd and drained the remaining resistance from the Italians. Shortly after the hour mark, Adam Byrne finished off some sustained and enterprising play by Ireland for a try in the right corner which proved the only score of the second half.

So Ireland returned to winning ways at a ground where they have a particularly good success rate. Kelleher was a worthy ‘Electric Ireland Man of the Match’ with keen competition from Adam Byrne and Goggin. In the absence of injured captain Dan Leavy, Connacht’s Sean O’Brien led the team by example. But Ireland did not hit the overall form that they are capable off and should really have been more comfortable victors, although a stop/start opening half did not help their cause.    

IRELAND:- David Busby (Queen’s University/Ulster); Cian Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster), Dan Goggin (Young Munster/Munster), Peter Robb (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Adam Byrne (UCD/Leinster); Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Nick McCarthy (UCD/Leinster); Peter Dooley (Lansdowne/Leinster), Max Abbott (Cork Constitution/Munster), Rory Burke (Cork Constitution/Munster); Sean O’Brien (Galwegians/Connacht) (captain), Ross Molony (UCD/Leinster); Peadar Timmins (UCD/Leinster), Rory Moloney (Buccaneers/Connacht) and Jack O’Donoghue (UL Bohemian/Munster). Replacements:- Harrison Brewer (Terenure College/Leinster) for Busby (inj.13 mins), Oisin Heffernan (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Burke (inj. half-time), Jack Cullen (Bruff/Munster) for McCarthy (55 mins), Sean McNulty (UCD/Munster) for Abbott (63 mins), Frankie Taggart (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) for Timmins (63 mins), Denis Coulson (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Dooley (70 mins), Conor McKeon (Lansdowne/Leinster) for R Byrne (70 mins) and Stephen Gardiner (Lansdowne/Leinster) for O’Brien (75).

Italy U20s  Lineups

ITALY:-  Alessandro Torlai (Rugby Reggio); Yannick Agbasse (Asolo Rugby), Giacomo de Santis (UR Capitolina), Gabriele Manganiello (Petrarca Padova), Lorenzo Maria Bruno (IMA Lazio Rugby 1927); Filippo Buscema (UR Capitolina), Maicol Azzolini (Pesaro Rugby) (captain); Derrick Appiah (Marchiol Mogliano), Adriano Daniele (Pomezia-Torvaianica), Simone Pietro Ferrari (Marchiol Mogliano); Filippo Scalvi (Rugby Reggio), Riccardo Michieletto (Petrarca Padova); Marco Lazzaroni (Marchiol Mogliano), Sebastian Negri da Oleggio (Western Province) and Federico Ruzza (Cus Padova). Replacements:- Matteo Gabbianelli (Pesaro Rugby) for Agbasse (55 mins), Paolo Buonfiglio (UR PratoSesto) for Ferrari (57 mins), Davide Zanetti (Cammi Calvisano) for Scalvi (57 mins), Matteo Archetti (Rugby Rovato) for Michieletto (57 mins), Matteo Gasparini (Fiamme Oro) for Torlai (57 mins), Simone Parisotto (Valsugana Rugby) for Azzolini (67 mins) and Cherif Traore (Estra I Cavalieri Prato) for Appiah (70).

Referee:- Craig Maxwell-Keyes (RFU).


U18 and U19 matchday squads named for Interpro openers vs Ulster