THREE Limerick-based players played central roles as the Ireland U-18 Clubs and Schools side defeated England U-18 Counties 29-17 at Ashbourne RFC on Wednesday.
Luke Fitzgerald, of Young Munster RFC and Glenstal Abbey, lined out at inside centre for the game, while Paddy Kelly, of St Munchin’s College lined out in the second-row and Glenstal Abbey flanker Mark Fleming impressed in the back-row.
Backs Aaron O'Sullivan, Aaron Sexton and captain Bruce Houston all crossed the whitewash as the Ireland youngsters built a 17-0 half-time lead in sunny conditions.
A Thomas Wane effort was cancelled out by full-back O'Sullivan's second try of the encounter, but the England U-18 Counties side cut the deficit to 10 points (22-12) after Jack Granby had finished off a fast-paced move.
A well-taken score from O'Sullivan's replacement Oran McNulty - Ireland's fifth try of the afternoon - settled the issue late on.
The Ireland U-18 squad that drew 23-all with England in Ashbourne back in 2011 contained current professionals Tom Daly, Peter Dooley, Ultan Dillane, Conor Joyce, Eoghan Masterson and Adam Byrne.
Mark Butler’s class of 2017 were drawn from all four provinces as well as a six-strong Exiles contingent, and the 24 players were representing 30 different schools and clubs on the day.
Head coach Butler is supported by assistant coach, Limerick man Colm Tucker, scrum coach Adrian Flavin and team manager Michael Black