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'Chat' and consistent focus key for Ireland U20s after great start at World Cup

The foot won’t be coming off the pedal against Scotland on Saturday.

IRELAND’S UNDER 20s won’t be easing off the pedal after Tuesday’s dramatic late win over Argentina in their Junior World Championship opener.

Lautaro Velez tackled by Billy Dardis and Nick McCarthy Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

Nigel Carolan’s men escaped with a narrow 18 – 16 victory, a late touchline penalty from Tomas Quinlan boosting their chances of escaping Pool C.

quinlan kick Source: TG4

That ability bounce back after falling behind with just three minutes remaining ought to be taken as a massive positive for the ‘Wolfpuppies’, who went in to this tournament lamenting their staying power in a Six Nations that started with two convincing wins before fizzling out with lower scores in each passing game.

“It is a bit of consistency thing and getting concentration there for the full 80 minutes,” said captain Nick McCarthy.

Really getting through all the games and getting the right side of the result, because the last 10-15 minutes have been going against us, so we need to get focused and get that right.”

Disrupting that focus has been the loss of key players to injury. Loosehead Jeremy Loughman’s tournament ended within 10 minutes of kick-off in Parma and has been replaced in the squad by Cork Con’s Liam O’Connor. Most importantly for McCarthy though, his regular partner in crime Ross Byrne was struck down with a back injury before the squad traveled to Italy.

Joey Carberry Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

Even by this stage, McCarthy and Byrne are a half-back pairing that are tried, tested and have an innate trust in one another. The scrum-half reckons they’ve played together since the age of four and were in tandem through school at St Michael’s and now with UCD. So there’s a bit of added concentration required when Joey Carbery or Quinlan stand outside McCarthy.

“You definitely have to make an effort. Constant chat, but that’s important between half-backs anyway, constant talking between nine and 10. When you’re not as used to playing with someone it is a factor, but you’d like to think that under 20 international standard players it wouldn’t make much of a difference either way.”

Five days on from the win over the Pumas, McCarthy’s Ireland will take on Scotland in their second pool fixture (KO 15.30 Saturday in Calvisano), the side will be much changed and the conditions different from their last meeting, but there will be a touch of revenge in the air after losing the Six Nations closer 17 – 10 in Netherdale. Another game settled by a single score.

Jacob Stockdale Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

“The margins in these international games are tiny, we’re not far off,” McCarthy said before the win over Argentina, ”we just need to get a few details right and we should be good.”

Catch up on Ireland’s thrilling last-gasp win in the World U20 Championship

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Sean Farrell

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