A Munster development XV pushed Ireland's U-20s side all the way at a bitterly cold Thomond Park last Friday. Noel McNamara’s Irish U-20’s squad were continuing their preparations for the upcoming Six Nations and won a hard fought 26-10 victory which did not really tell the story of how well Munster played in what was a scratch side put together with a mixture of academy, club and schools players.
The Irish U-20s started the stronger of the two sides opening the scoring after just five minutes. Out half Harry Byrne kicked an exquisite cross field kick for James McCarthy to touch down in the corner to give his side the lead following a turnover at ruck time by the impressive Ronan Kelleher. Byrne added the extras to give the Irish side a 7-0 lead.
Munster were to respond just eight minutes later. James McCarthy was again involved in the build up to the try, all be it for the wrong reasons. McCarthy was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on the ball as Munster were looking to score through Evan O’Gorman. Referee John Lacey showed McCarthy a yellow card, before Munster scored from the resulting play.
A lineout on the right, was excellently worked into an attacking maul, before hands from David McCarthy set Liam Coombes away to make it 7-5 at the break.
The second half, played in bitterly cold, yet dry conditions, saw David McCarthy at centre of all Munster’s attacking play. The Garryowen centre set up Sean Duffy for the hosts second score just after the restart. McCarthy was involved twice before he sent Duffy away to make it 10-7 to the men in red.
That was to be last score of the game for Peter Malone’s men, as Ireland kicked into gear. Munster’s Mikey Wilson was sin binned for a deliberate knock on, and Ireland capitalised as Max Kearney scored in the corner following a long looping pass from the excellent Harry Byrne. When Byrne knocked over the extras from right on the touchline, Ireland now led 14-10 after 55 minutes.
The next twenty plus minutes were hard fought and scrappy from both sides as the two sets of management emptied their benches. With time running out, Peter Sullivan was to put the icing on the cake for Ireland, twice, as he crossed for two well taken tries to seal the 26-10 win. Again, Byrne was involved in both, with substitute Conor Kelly adding one conversion.
Next up for Noel McNamara’s side is the opening game of the Six Nations against France on February 2. Munster's academy players will now turn their attentions to the British and Irish Cup which kicks back into action on Friday January 12.
Ireland U20: James McCarthy (UL Bohemian), Peter Sullivan (Lansdowne), Tommy O’Brien (UCD RFC), James Newey (IQ Rugby), Angus Kernohan (Ballymena RFC), Harry Byrne (UCD), Hugh O’Sullivan (Clontarf), James French (UCC), Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne), Jack Aungier (St Marys RFC), Cormac Daly (Clontrf RFC), Jack Dunne (DUFC), Sean Masterson (Corinthians RFC), Matthew Agnew (Ballymena), Jack O’Sullivan (UCC). Subs Used: Jordan Duggan (Naas RFC), Diarmuid Barron (Garryowen), Joe Byrne (DUFC), Charlie Ryan (UCD), Max Kearney (DUFC), Ronan Foley (UCD), Johnny Stewart (Queen's University), Conor Kelly (Clontrf), Sean O’Brien (Clontarf), Michael Silvester (DUFC)
Munster: Conor Hayes (Young Munster), Even O’Gorman (Clontarf/Academy), Kieran Dunne (Shannon), Dave McCarthy (Garryowen) (C), Liam Coombes (Garryowen/Academy); Peter Sylvester (UCC), Colin Sisk (Dolphin); Joey Conway (UL Bohs/Academy), Tadhg McCarthy (UCC), Bryan O’Connor (UCC); Ronan Coffey (Shannon), Mikey Wilson (Garryowen); Sean Duffy (Cork Constitution), Jack Daly (Garryowen), John Foley (Shannon/Academy).Subs from: Replacements Used: John Hodnett (UCC), Josh Wycherley (Cistercian College Roscrea), Pat Casey (Cork Constitution), Rob O’Donovan (UCC/Academy), Denis Broderick (Midleton RFC), Charlie Carmody (Shannon), Jack Lyons (Young Munster), Ben Healy (Glenstal Abbey), Nathan Randles (Shannon).