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5 Ireland U20s who impressed in a tough pool finale against Georgia

From Munster men who were central to a potent maul to an openside back from a year in Australia.

Image: Camerasport/Dave Howarth/INPHO

NIGEL CAROLAN’S IRELAND U20s pulled away to a 35 – 7 win over Georgia to seal top spot in the World Rugby U20 Championship and with it a semi-final berth.

It wasn’t easy, and rarely pretty, but here are five men we thought made all the difference.

Sean O’Connor

The regular totem in the number five jersey was left out of the 23 as a precaution, but Sean O’Connor picked up the baton from James Ryan and ran with it.

Sean O'Connor with Lasha Tabidze Source: Camerasport/Dave Howarth/INPHO

The Cashel man got through a mountain of work around the park, making his presence felt in ruck after ruck. He was the lynch-pin of a maul that was again a formidable force which Ireland look to in times of need.

Vincent O’Brien

It would be wrong to praise O’Connor for the exploits at the maul without giving a big nod to his hooker. The Cork Con front row played 80 minutes of a seriously sapping game. made sure the sideline set-piece was solid for the most part – a vital component of the victory considering the scrummaging strength of Georgia – and was a cool head in possession at the back of a maul that wasn’t stopped legally.

Johnny McPhillips

Though Ireland struggled to make big inroads into a powerful Georgian defensive line even with an early red card to their name, McPhillips impressed in his first start this tournament.

Johnny McPhillips scores his team's second try Source: Camerasport/Dave Howarth/INPHO

Along with continuing his solid goal-kicking, he was brave to go long with kicks from hand and was the most potent line-breaking threat in Ireland’s three-quarter line. Seems to have taken his demotion from the starting out-half slot very professionally and looks assured as he prepares to guide Ireland in a semi-final.

Terry Kennedy

Georgia made sure Ireland weren’t able to find much space out wide, but Kennedy made sure the most was made of the few opportunities that did come.

Showed good hands to send Hugo Keenan in for Ireland’s opening try (when Georgia still had 15 men) and was able to stretch his legs in the second half when dotting his own try down in the right hand corner.

keenantry

Conall Boomer

On his debut, the Ballymena openside proved himself a useful option to have around.

The former Western Force U20 showed good feet through the tackle and also a good turn of pace that helps him exploit space around the fringes where he also has the hands to link attacks and unleash speedsters running a trail on him.

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Ireland U20 made to work for semi-final spot by resolute 14-man Georgia

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Sean Farrell

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