By Michael Silke

IRELAND made an impressive winning start to the RBS Six Nations Junior Championship with a comprehensive 34-7 victory over Scotland in their ELECTRIC IRELAND U-20 home series fixture at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Friday night. Following an early brace of penalties by Ross Byrne, Ireland dominated this game played in heavy rain in which the home tactics and handling were vastly superior to the visitors.

Ireland’s scrum and lineout set-pieces ensured they had a decent supply of possession which they used pragmatically in the greasy conditions. The pack excelled with a terrific backrow trio catching the eye and Sean O’Brien at lock recovered from an early injury to put in a major contribution. In the conditions the backline got little ball to run but their tackling was generally razor sharp while outhalf Byrne played the conditions and opposition sensibly. He kicked penalties after 5 and 14 minutes from three attempts. Scotland’s first chance came on 17 minutes when Ian Fitzpatrick and David Busby got in a tangle dealing with a chip ahead. This led to a penalty which the visitors tapped to ‘The Bounty’ corner but Ireland held the Scots out as the rain increased.

A fine series of pick and goes by the forwards in green led to Jack O’Donoghue powering over for a 32nd minute try with fly-half Byrne squeezing his conversion in for a 13-0 lead. In the final move of the half, Ireland capitalised as Scotland erred at a lineout close to their line. The home nation recycled possession calmly from the ensuing scrum and Peadar Timmins surged in for a try which stand-off Byrne converted to extend Ireland’s advantage to 20-0 at halftime.

Ireland continued to dictate after the turnaround on a night best suited for graft and desire, ingredients they possessed in spades. They continued to go through the phases, eventually forcing a 64th minute penalty which O’Donoghue tapped smartly to barge over for an opportunist try. Ross Byrne added the conversion to put Ireland 27-0 ahead and he then lofted a sublime garryowen and Ian Fitzpatrick ‘buried’ Ruairidh Young to snaffle possession, leading to a swift counter attack which Oisin Heffernan finished off for a 68th minute try which Byrne converted.

Scotland never stopped trying and they took the bare look off the scoreboard in the final move of the game when Ben Vellacott neatly controlled his own chip ahead for a well-taken try which Ben Cooper converted to complete the 34-7 scoreline in favour of Ireland. No.8 O’Donoghue, who was injured scoring his second try, was a worthy ELECTRIC IRELAND Man of the Match. O’Brien in the second row, prop Peter Dooley and skipper Dan Leavy were others to shine for the victors who face Wales in Dubarry Park next Friday night. That Athlone clash will be a tougher test but should be a cracker. Kick off is 7.30 p.m.


IRELAND:- David Busby (Queen’s University/Ulster); Adam Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Gary Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), Peter Robb (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne/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), Ross Molony (UCD/Leinster), Peadar Timmins (UCD/Leinster), Dan Leavy (UCD/Leinster) (capt), Jack O’Donoghue (UL Bohemians/Munster). Replacements used: Shane Delahunt (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Abbott, Dan Goggin (Young Munster/Munster) for Ringrose (both 57 mins), Jack Cullen (Bruff/Munster) for McCarthy, Rory Moloney (Buccaneers/Connacht) for O’Donoghue, Joe Joyce (Bristol/Exiles) for Molony, Oisin Heffernan (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Burke, Jacob Walshe (Buccaneers/Connacht) for Dooley (all 58) and Conor McKeon (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Busby (69). 

and U20s Lineup

SCOTLAND:- Gavin Lowe (Glasgow Hawks/Glasgow Warriors); Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh), Damien Hoyland (Melrose), Neil Herron (Glasgow Hawks), Sam Pecqueur (Edinburgh Accies); Ben Chalmers (Melrose), Murdo McAndrew (Clermont Auvergne); James Malcolm (Ayr), Sam James (London Wasps), D’arcy Rae (Ayr/Glasgow Warriors), Andrew Cramond (Aberdeen Grammar), Glen Young (Newcastle Falcons), Magnus Bradbury (Boroughmuir/Edinburgh), Tommy Spinks (London Scottish) (capt), Buchan Richardson (London Scottish). Replacements used: Jack Cosgrove (Worcester Warriors) for Malcolm (half-time), Neil Irvine-Hess (Watsonians/Edinburgh) for Spinks (43-49 mins, blood sub), Ross Graham (Hawick) for James (52), Ben Vellacott (Worcester Warriors/Hartpury) for McAndrew, Ruaridh Young (Edinburgh Accies) for Lowe (both 57), Lewis Carmicheal (Melrose) for Cramond, Irvine-Hess for Bradbury (both 58), Philip Cringle (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh) for Rae (60) and Ben Cooper (Boroughmuir) for Chalmers (77).

 Referee:-  Claudio Blessano (Italy).


IRELAND take on Junior World Cup runners-up Wales in the second of their ELECTRIC IRELAND home series RBS U-20 Six Nations Championship fixtures at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Friday night. Wales overcame Italy 26-9 in the Principality but it was not entirely all one way, despite lording the possession stakes. Openside flanker Scott Matthews was outstanding while No.8 James Benjamin also enjoyed the outing against the Italians as Wales looked highly dangerous in the loose. Outhalf Ethan Davies and scrumhalf Tom Williams paired neatly at halfback and will offer a tougher challenge to Ireland than Scotland did.

Nevertheless, Ireland must make the most of home advantage and they look to have a quality pack this season. Jack O’Donoghue (who hopefully will have recovered from the injury sustained against Scotland), Sean O’Brien, Dan Leavy and Peter Dooley are top notch forwards. The conditions and opposition meant that the Ireland back line did not get much opportunity to unveil their potential but there is a belief that a real burgeoning unit is there to be unleashed. Wales will pose a much stiffer test and there could be pyrotechnics both on and off the pitch, but Ireland look like having a fine all-round panel that can build on last Friday’s promising start and forge a second successive home win.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at The Bounty and/or Buccaneers Rugby Football Club. Contact Geraldine at 0861732711 or email [email protected] to book or for further enquiries. Tickets can also be bought at the turnstiles on match night. Prices are €20 Stand; €15 Terrace; Family €30 (2 adults + 2 children to Ground). Group discounts for schools/clubs, etc., are available as are a limited number of pre-match tables, where you can enjoy a three-course meal with wine and have a reserved seat in the Stand for only €40 per person! Contact details as above for further information.  



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