Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 12°C Friday 23 April 2021

3 players who stood out in Ireland U20s' defeat to Scotland last night

Stephen Fitzgerald was the pick of the Ireland team on a disappointing evening.

NIGEL CAROLAN’S IRELAND U20s were beaten 17-10 by Scotland last night in Galashiels.

That result means Ireland finish their Six Nations campaign second from bottom in the table, with England crowned champions thanks to a 24-11 win over France yesterday evening.

While it was a disappointingly poor collective performance from Ireland in Scotland to end their Six Nations, we’ve picked out three men who emerged from Netherdale with some credit.

Stephen Fitzgerald

Stephen Fitzgerald Fitzgerald was superb in limited attacking opportunities. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Munster academy wing can reflect on a fine campaign for Ireland after scoring three tries in his four starts, including another excellent effort last night against the Scots.

Fitzgerald was the biggest thorn in the Scotland defence’s side at Netherdale, consistently posing demanding questions with ball in hand. The 19-year-old produced a major linebreak in the first half, showing sharp footwork and searing speed to burst through following a Scottish kick, but Ireland could not capitalise.

The former Ardscoil Rís man also took his try superbly, scorching past the despairing reach of the last defender after good work by his fellow backs. Later in the game, Fitzgerald showed his passing skills twice to free others for linebreaks.

Just last year, Fitzgerald was playing at fullback in Ardscoil’s Munster Schools Senior Cup campaign, but he has shown his promising attacking ability works on the wing too in a strong Six Nations.

Billy Dardis

Billy Dardis Dardis looked threatening in Scotland. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

As Ireland’s forwards struggled to get to grips with their Scottish counterparts, it was the Irish backline that provided hope that Carolan’s team could emerge with a better result.

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

Alongside Fitzgerald, Dardis was lively for Ireland throughout, until he was forced off injured with 15 minutes remaining. The fullback was strong on kick returns, even if there was no memorable bust of the Scots’ chasing line.

Dardis possesses excellent footwork and he used it to good effect to at the very least create favourable rucks for Ireland. Furthermore, the UCD man demonstrated his footballing skills with a couple of well-placed kicks to touch in open play.

The former Terenure man provided the scoring pass for Fitzgerald’s try too, drawing and passing with minimal fuss to give his left wing time to beat the last defender.

Lorcan Dow

Lorcan Dow dejected Dow has been a strong ball carrier for Ireland. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Ulster number eight, a product of the Exiles system, was part of a well-beaten Ireland pack last night, but his ball-carrying did at least put them into promising positions on a number of occasions.

Ireland’s greatest spell of possession came in the third quarter in Galashiels and that’s when London-born Dow stood out with his powerful and direct running game. One barrelling carry from the tail of the scrum was halted within a metre of the tryline, before Sam Arnold knocked-on in the process of reaching for the line.

That was the story of Ireland’s attacking game for much of the evening in Scotland, some promising build-up play leading to an error at the crucial moment.

At other times, Carolan’s side struggled to get a foothold in the Scotland half, meaning the likes of Dow were limited in what they could do carrying-wise.

‘I owe him a fair bit’ – Joe Schmidt and Vern Cotter ready for chess match

‘We’ve all lost big games before’ – POC set to bounce back with Ireland

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

Read next: