Impressive U18s see off Ulster in style

20 August 2023

Impressive U18s see off Ulster in style

CONNACHT U18s 39 – 17 ULSTER U18s

The Connacht U18s, sponsored by ATU, claimed a deserved 39-17 win over their Ulster counterparts in a blustery Sportsground, for the opening round of the U18 Interprovincial Championships.

Both teams took to the pitch as the rain fell, but that did not deter Ulster as they immediately made their mark with a brilliant try by number 2, Tom McGilloway off a tap and go penalty after just three minutes of play. Ulster number 9, Connor McVicker made no mistake with slotting the conversion between the posts to give Ulster an early 7-0 lead. Momentum seemed to be in Ulster’s favour as they continued to keep their defensive line and force Connacht errors. After a scrum penalty went Ulster’s way just outside the Connacht 22m line, Ulster decided to kick for the posts. Connor McVicker for Ulster once again stepped up to the tee and slotted the kick between the posts to bring their lead to 10-0 after 12 minutes of play.

Ulster’s energy only grew, and they continued to find holes in the Connacht defence and force Connacht errors under pressure. However, Connacht’s nerves seemed to subside, and they began to find their feet in the game which started with defensive brilliance of a held-up try after a great attacking run by Ulster number 7, Bobby Newell off an Ulster lineout. From here, Connacht were a different team, showing clinical displays of play in all aspects of their game. They finally got on the scoreboard after 18 minutes with an amazing run by fullback Dylan Bruton and a pass to centre Tom Sheehan off a 2-on-1 offensive position and from there, they couldn’t be stopped. The conversion was put between the posts by scrum-half Charlie O'Carroll, who was impressive from start to finish.

Their momentum continued up until halftime with tries coming from the strength in their maul and their quick passing, ensuring that Jack Pollard, captain Liam Cahill, and Rory Lyons each make it over the line for respective tries bringing them to a 22-10 lead a few minutes before the halftime whistle. A quietened Ulster won a penalty on their 5m line and held off Connacht from scoring another try a few minutes later, but the halftime score was 22-10 to Connacht.

The sun came out for the second half, but the windy conditions remained for the rest of the game. Both teams came out firing at the start of the second half. Ulster looked more present and alive at the start of the second half compared to just before halftime. Possession for the first 10 minutes of the second half was even, and the match was played between the teams' 22m lines. However, Ulster couldn’t hold off Connacht forever, and 11 minutes into the second half, Connacht got their fifth try of the match when vice-captain Sean Walsh made a beautiful run through the Ulster defence with Charlie O'Carroll on his shoulder, ready for the supporting pass which eventually came and saw him sprint over the try line to make the score 27-10.

Connacht brought on the rest of their substitutes to ensure game-time, and the energy did not drop. Connacht’s defensive line looked alert and ready for anything Ulster threw at them. After they won the ball back from Ulster’s attack, Connacht broke up the wing and number 10, Joseph Smyth flew over the line for their sixth try to make it 32-10 after 21 minutes into the second half, as Connacht clearly showed themselves to be the stronger side on the day. Connacht’s number 11, Paul Sharkey added to the tally with a try after breaking free on the wing. The conversion by Joseph Smyth was right in front of the posts and he made no mistake in putting it over to make it 39-10 after 24 minutes. Ulster had remained scoreless since the 12th minute in the first half until the 29th minute of the second half when number 11, Joel Barron broke away after winning a loose ball off a Connacht error. The conversion was successful by Ulster number 22, Owen O’Kane, but it was not enough for a comeback and Connacht took the win 39-17.


Connacht – number 17, Christopher Donlon in for 3, Michael Donnelly (7 mins, 2nd half), numbers 21, Billy Ruane and 23, Thomas Cotton on for 9, Charlie O'Carroll and 12, Tom Sheehan (12 mins, 2nd half), number 19, Charlie Keane on for 8, Oisin McNicholas (13 min, 2nd half) numbers 16, Christopher Cusack 18, Brian Donohoe 20, and 22, Charlie Curling on for 1, Donagh Kilcommins 2, Jack Pollard 7, Rory Lyons and 14, Finnan Strain (20 mins, 2nd half)

Ulster – number 23 in for 12, Cameron Cummings (34 mins, 1st half), numbers 16, Killian Brolly 17, Tom McGilloway and 20, Harry McIlwaine on for 1, Justin Mark 2, Aaron Caldwell and 7, Bobby Newell (13 mins, 2nd half)


Squad List - Connacht

Saturday 19th August, 13:00 @ Sportsground



15. Dylan Bruton (Buccaneers RFC/CBS Roscommon)

14. Finnan Strain (Corinthians RFC/Coláiste Chroí Mhuire)

13. Sean Walsh V/C (Corinthians RFC/Colaiste Einde)

12. Tom Sheehan (Buccaneers RFC/Marist College)

11. Paul Sharkey (Galwegians RFC/St.Joeseph's Patrician College)

10. Joseph Smyth (Ballinasloe RFC/Garbally College)

9. Charlie O'Carroll (Buccaneers RFC/Marist College)

1. Donagh Kilcommins (Corinthians RFC/Coláiste Bhaile Chláir)

2. Jack Pollard (Buccaneers RFC/Blackrock College)

3. Michael Donnelly (Castlebar RFC/St.Gerald's College DLS)

4. Liam Cahill C (Corinthians RFC/Coláiste na Coiribe)

5. Rory Gavin (Galwegians RFC/Colaiste Iognaid)

6. Diarmaid O'Connell V/C (Sligo RFC/Sligo Grammar)

7. Rory Lyons (Westport RFC/Sancta Maria College)

8. Oisin McNicholas (Ballina RFC/St.Louis Community College)


16. Christopher Cusack (Castlebar RFC/Davitt College)

17. Christopher Donlon (Dunmore RFC/Dunmore Community College)

18. Brian Donohoe (Ballina RFC/St.Muredachs College)

19. Charlie Keane (Corinthians RFC/Coláiste Bhaile Chláir)

20. Charlie Curling (Corinthians RFC/St.Joseph's Patrician College)

21. Billy Ruane (Ballina RFC/St.Muredachs College)

22. Cillian O'Neill (Sligo RFC/Summerhill College)

23. Thomas Cotton (Buccaneers RFC/Marist College)

24. Eoin Naughton (Buccaneers RFC/Marist College)

25. Otega Awhinawhi (Buccaneers RFC/Marist College)

26. Ronan O'Connor (Sligo RFC/Summerhill College)


Head Coach: Sean Skehan

Assitant Coach: Paddy Thornton

Development Coach: Diarmuid Codyre

S&C Coach: Adrian Pilkington

Physioterapist: Joe Corduff

Team Manager: Philip Coyle

Squad List – Ulster


15. James Orr (Ballymena RFC)

14. Ryan McDowell (Larne Grammar / Larne RFC)

13. Tom Bell (Regent House / Ards RFC)

12. Cameron Cummings (Royal School Dungannon / City of Armagh RFC)

11. Joel Barron (Friends School / Dromore RFC)

10. Sam McElroy (Dromore High / Banbridge RFC)

9. Connor McVicker (Belfast Royal Academy / Academy RFC)

1. Justin Mark (Cambridge House / Ballymena RFC)

2. Aaron Caldwell (Belfast Royal Academy / Academy RFC)

3. Josh Dobbin (Cambridge House / Ballymena RFC)

4. Oliver Hughes (Dalriada / Coleraine RFC)

5. Rossa Bell (Rainey Endowed / Rainey Old Boys RFC)

6. Noah Bell (C) (Banbridge Academy / Banbridge RFC)

7. Bobby Newell (Portadown College / Portadown RFC)

8. Ryan Hanna (Banbridge Academy / Dromore RFC)


16. Killian Brolly (Limavady Grammar / Limavady RFC)

17. Tom McGilloway (Strabane RFC)

18. Tom Pitts (Rainey Endowed / Rainey Old Boys RFC)

19. Dylan Fox (Malone RFC)

20. Harry McIlwaine (Omagh Academy / Omagh Accies RFC)

21. Danny Guy (Portadown College / Portadown RFC)

22. Owen O’Kane (Rainey Endowed / Rainey Old Boys RFC)

23. Ethan Spratt (Regent House / Ards RFC)

24. Zak Holmes (Dungannon RFC)