Sharkey strikes late for Connacht

28 August 2023

Sharkey strikes  late for Connacht

The Connacht U18s scored five tries to come away with a two point win (27-25) over the Leinster U18 Clubs at Energia Park yesterday.

Connacht left it late when Paul Sharkey in spactacular style put the away side in front for the very first time in the game.

The feeling out process meant much of the opening minutes passed between the 22-metre lines, Connacht’s Joseph Smyth using the boot well.

Leinster were keen to apply pressure and centre Harley Fagan-Harold gathered his own block on Tom Sheehan on his way to the right corner in the 12th minute.

The Westerners moved impressively through the gears, activating short passes and offloads before Smyth found Diarmuid O’Connell with an inside ball and scrum-half Charlie O’Carroll did the rest in the 19th minute.

A pinpoint line-kick by Daragh Farrell put Leinster within striking distance and a one-two between Jack Litchfield and Oisin O’Hara up the left ended with the former sprinting over for 10-5 in the 22nd minute.

The offloading of Connacht’s Sean Walsh and O’Connell was causing problems for Leinster until the Sean Walsh in Blue picked up a poach penalty.

The loss of hooker Jack Pollard to the bin placed extra pressure on Connacht which Robert Besse exploit to maximum effect from a perfect grubber and grab along the right touchline, out-half Farrell converting for 17-5 on half-time.

A lovely pop pass by Connacht centre Walsh and rapid counter by wing Finnan Strain from deep was a warning of what was to come.

A barreling burst by openside Rory Lyons was the basis for soft hands along the line to create the space for Sharkey’s first try in the 41st minute.

Leinster were able to answer that with a well-worked try from a lineout, tight-head Evann Shelley spinning out of a tackle

A typically powerful carry by Connacht flanker Lyons was all the momentum needed for prop Michael Donnelly to crash over for Smyth to convert in the 52nd minute.

The visitors lost another boy to the bin just as Farrell made it a two-score game from a penalty in the 61st minute.

However, Connacht replacements Thomas Cotton and Ronan O’Connor combined on the right for the latter to score, despite being down to 14, to put the game back in the melting pot.

They came one last time on the front-foot, O’Connell, Lyons and Walsh leading the charge and the backs playing their parts for Strain to feed Sharkey for the match-winning try.


Leinster: J Litchfield, H Fagan-Harold, R Besse, E Shelley try each; D Farrell pen, con.

Connacht: P Sharkey 2 tries; C O’Carroll, M Donnelly, R O’Connor try each; J Smyth con.

15. Dylan Bruton (Buccaneers) / Ronan O’Connor (Sligo) 34 mins
14. Finnan Strain (Corinthians)
13. Sean Walsh (Corinthians)
12. Tom Sheehan (Buccaneers) / Thomas Cotton (Buccaneers) 51 mins
11. Paul Sharkey (Galwegians)
10. Joseph Smyth (Ballinasloe)
9. Charlie O’Carroll (Buccaneers) / Billy Ruane (Ballina) 51 mins
1. Donagh Kilcommins (Corinthians) / Michael Donnelly (Castlebar) 47 mins
2. Jack Pollard (Buccaneers) / Christopher Cusack (Castlebar) 66 mins
3. Jason Duggan (Ballina) / Christopher Donlon (Dunmore) 43 mins
4. Liam Cahill C (Corinthians) / Charlie Curling (Corinthians) 62 mins
5. Rory Gavin (Galwegians)
6. Diarmaid O’Connell (Sligo)
7. Rory Lyons (Westport)
8. Oisin McNicholas (Ballina) / Christopher Cusack (Castlebar) 31 mins – temp / Charlie Keane (Corinthians) 37 mins.

15. Jack Litchfield (Skerries RFC)
14. Robert Besse (Malahide RFC) / Callum Mulligan (Mullingar RFC) 50 mins
13. Eoin Conlon (Mullingar RFC) / Shaun O’Reilly (Navan RFC) 41 mins
12. Harley Fagan Harold (Balbriggan RFC)
11. Oisin O’Hara (Mullingar RFC)
10. Daragh Farrell (Athy RFC, Capt)
9. Paidi Gorman (Edenderry RFC) / Conor Dignam (De La Salle Palmerston FC) 66 mins
1. John King (Athy RFC) / Conan Gartland (MU Barnhall) 52 mins
2. Harry Dunne (Naas RFC) / Yaw Appiah (Longford) 68 mins
3. Evann Shelley (Skerries RFC)
4. Sean Walsh (North Kildare RFC)
5. Sam Fennell (Lansdowne FC)
6. Luke Fagan (Skerries RFC)
7. Mike Branagan (Skerries RFC)
8. Cian Crampton (Naas RFC) / Joshua Chukwuemeka Ohagwa (Navan RFC).