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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 14 April 2021


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You’ve got that suped-up Friday feeling and we’ve got a long rugby weekend to match.

Welcome along to our liveblog of Ireland U20s’ trip to Wales, where they are aiming to complete a terrific Grand Slam.

Before we all get too comfortable, there is some major team news from Ryan Bailey has braved the sea crossing to Colwyn Bay. Head coach Noel McNamara has been forced into changing both his half-backs.

Out go Harry Byrne and Craig Casey.

In come Ben Healy and Cormac Foley.

The 7.05 kick-off is coming up fast, so tune into RTE 2 to feast your eyes.

Here is the full revised matchday 23. Healy, of course, impressed during the win over France last weekend when he kicked Ireland to victory and Foley’s presence could well aid Ireland in difficult conditions.

Iwan Hughes and Connacht’s Colm Reilly come in among the replacements.

Ireland U20

15. Jake Flannery (Shannon/Munster)
14. Angus Kernohan (Queen’s University/Ulster)
13. Liam Turner (Dublin University/Leinster)
12. Sean French (Cork Constitution/Munster)
11. Jonathan Wren (Cork Constitution/Munster)
10. Ben Healy (Garryowen/Munster)
9. Cormac Foley (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)

1. Josh Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster)
2. Dylan Tierney-Martin (Corinthians/Connacht)
3. Thomas Clarkson (Dublin University/Leinster)
4. Charlie Ryan (UCD/Leinster — captain)
5. Niall Murray (Buccaneers/Connacht)
6. Martin Moloney (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
7. Scott Penny (UCD/Leinster)
8. John Hodnett (UCC/Munster)


16. John McKee (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
17. Callum Reid (Banbridge/Ulster)
18. Ryan Lomas (Galwegians/Connacht)
19. Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster)
20. David McCann (Banbridge/Ulster)
21. Colm Reilly (Buccaneers RFC/Connacht)
22. Iwan Hughes (Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster)
23. Rob Russell (Dublin University/Leinster)

And here are the final hurdle between the class of 2019 and a Grand Slam – a feat not achieved since Cian Healy, Keith Earls, Ian Keatley, Andrew Browne, Felix Jones and co. won five straight in 2007.

Wales U20:

15. Cai Evans 
14. Tomi Lewis 
13. Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler
12. Aneurin Owen 
11. Ioan Davies
10. Sam Costelow
9. Dafydd Buckland 

1. Rhys Davies
2. Dewi Lake (captain)
3. Ben Warren 
4. Ed Scragg
5. Teddy Williams 
6. Ellis Thomas 
7. Jac Morgan
8. Iestyn Rees.


16. Will Griffiths
17. Tom Devine 
18. Nick English  
19. Jac Price 
20. Ioan Rhys Davies
21. Dan Babos
22. Max Llewellyn
23. Ryan Conbeer.

10 minutes to kick-off over in Colwyn Bay. Prediction time: though Ireland have not yet won in Colwyn Bay, this is a side who are wholly focused, they barely left themselves time to celebrate beating the world champions last week and instead re-set focus on completing a rare achievement.

It could be tight and tough, but Ireland will eventually force the win. By close of business, I think they could be over 10 points to the good.

Right, that’s the anthems done, time for kick-off.

Wales will get the match under way and kick into Ireland’s 22.


Wren took the kick-off and Healy was willing to go wide with the first possession.

John Hodnett makes a decent carry and the clearance comes, returned with interest by Costelow and the ball bounces nicely into the corner.

Tierney-Martin’s line-out throw is off target and Ireland are under the cosh in the 22.


Decent defence from McNamara’s men as Wales show their quick hands and Davies threatens a break. Ireland use the touchline and the line-out improves, but Healy’s clearance is slightly sliced and the pressure resumes.

Wales maul their way to a penalty and look back to the corner to see if they can get more change.


Nice attacking intent from Wales, showing good width with Wheeler looking for a break and Evans again involved, but the final pass to the wing was off target.


There’s a serious pressure reliever. Penalty won off the scrum in their right-hand corner. Healy’s kick goes only outside the 22, but it’s Ireland’s ball to build with…  gah, the error comes with Foley knocking on after Murray took the line-out.


After Irish errors made it a stop-start opening 10 minutes, Wales use their fine maul as a solid base. They go wide from 40 metres out and Wren bites in a little early seeking a hit, but Evans keeps the move going with a pass wide to Lewis and the wing does well to step himself into enough space before offloading back inside for Aneurin Owen and the inside centre ran for home.

Evans knocks over the conversion and Ireland are now officially on the back foot.

Wales 7 Ireland 0


Here’s the first real foothold Ireland have managed to get after forcing a penalty on halfway.

They kick for the corner and Penny breaks forward off the maul. Foley is among the carriers from there on in as Ireland quickly rumble laterally and Penny thinks he’s got the ball down under the posts!


The TMO and the referee reckon the grounding was short of the line. No try, but much better, clinical work from the visitors.


The Scrum V sees Ireland launch Sean French into contact and he might just have contorted his body to score.

TMO time again.


French planted the ball an inch short of the line and knocked on.

Commendable confidence, but Ireland would benefit from a bit more patience here.


Ireland’s scrummaging is allowing them to keep some sort of control on this game, Wycherley forces a penalty inside his own half and ireland can attack off line-out ball once again.


Healy’s pass to Hodnett is slightly off target and a Welsh hand reaches the loose ball. They spot a huge mismatch on the right and pit Lewis into a footrace with hooker Tierney-Martin. Foley stretches his legs to bail out the front row.


PENALTY! Wales 10 Ireland 0 (Evans ’29)

Wales’ breakdown work still sucking Ireland’s momentum away from them and Evans, son of Ieuan, boots a brilliant penalty over from 45 metres.

Ireland have been in a few tight spots during this tournament, but this looks extra sticky.


Tomi Lewis is having a great day on the Welsh right, a danger every time he’s on the ball and his latest raid is a worrying one for Ireland.

Fortunately, Lewis’ grubber ahead slightly overcooked and he can’t reach it before it goes dead.


Is that the break Ireland needed. Costelow eyes space in behind Kernohan, but his boot to the 22 flies a yard too far and out on the full.

Healy kicks and Wren gets a good chase on to pressure Davies’ clearance.

French boots the ball to the 22. That’s a far more promising phase for the visitors.

Flag 43Mins

In tough times, sometimes a big break can make all the difference and they don’t come much bigger than the one found by Angus Kernohan.

The senior-capped Ulsterman broke away from his 22, took a 90 degree turn infield after he cross halfway and the support arrived in force.

Ireland went wide rapidly, with Penny involved in a carry before the ball was whipped to Wren, who brilliantly stepped inside to score.

HALF-TIME Wales 10 Ireland 7


Here we go then, the second half is under way.

Can Ireland take that massive momentum boost and build on it?


The momentum isn’t exactly flowing Ireland’s way, more a case of McNamara’s side going about their business a little more smoothly in the early minutes. 

Kick chase is working nicely and Ireland have territory in the Welsh 22.

Flag 49Mins

TRY! Wales 10 Ireland 14 (Tierney-Martin ’46)

That’s a bizarre try for Ireland. As soon as the TMO review came up it seemed as though the hooker had illegally picked and went from an offside position.

But the referee has judged that he went to ground of his own accord, so no tackle and he picked up again and drove for the line.

Genius move from Tierney-Martin if all that was intentional.


A missed kick from Evans to follow up is another slice of luck going Ireland’s way after the two first-half TMO calls went against the visitors.


Huge turnover by Scott Penny on his own five metre line as Wales mounted pressure. The instinct is to go wide, but big Ryan Baird puts a big boot on the ball to clear the lines.

Flag 53Mins

TRY! Wales 10 Ireland 19 (Kernohan ’53)

That’s why they’re champions.


Ah no. That’s a shame. NO TRY.

TMO does well to spot a forward pop pass from Turner to French. The 12 barged through the gap and delivered a peach of an offload for Kernohan. But it counts for nought now.

Wales 10 Ireland 14


Brilliant footwork from replacement Conbeer, stepping this way and that as he powered through and beyond green jerseys.

Once tackled, he got a slick offload to his openside Morgan and he stormed under the posts, eventually getting the ball down despite some gutsy defensive work.


We’re firmly in the business end now and Ireland are continuing to give penalty chances the way of the hosts.

Fortunately, Evans misses another one as it drifts wide of the posts. It’s very delicately poised with 16 minutes to go.


Huge danger again as Wheeler makes a break, there is cover there though and he has to pop the ball inside to a tight 5 and Turner does well to stand him up.

Wales go wide, but they find shut-down corner with Kernohan in mood for a turnover.


It’s frantic now. The line-out is long and Costelow chips in behind. Rob Russell reads it very well though and kicks long to space down-field.

How’s your nerves?

Can Ireland find one crucial chance?


Big Ryan Baird makes a big carry, but Wales capitalise on the ease he broke that tackle and do well to halt him while he’s still upright and force a maul to add yet another frustrating to a night of hair-pulling for Noel McNamara.



Colm Reilly, who wasn’t in the matchday 23 this morning, spots that Wales have no pillar defence and snipes right of a ruck 30 metres out and shows serious gas to beat the fullback and slide in a try to give Ireland the lead!

The conversion is off the post, so Wales can still have a real go at spoiling this occasion.

Hold on tight.

Flag 76Mins

Nervy, nervy minutes. Flannery’s kick half charged down, Wales mount an attack from halfway.

But in comes Martin Moloney!

The Kildare man gets a superb jackal on and is immovable over the ball and earns a crucial penalty for his side.


Kick to the corner, and the maul wins a penalty as Wales bite in from the side.


Ireland go back to the maul, and they can see out the game in this corner or score a try to put the result beyond all doubt… 


Lovely hands from French with an offload and Ireland are looking to go wide on advantage…


Thomas Clarkson made the last big burst for the line from short distance.

He thinks it’s all over…


An astounding finish from McNamara’s men, digging deep – just as they have done in every match through this tournament – to come out with a dramatic win.

The seal the bonus point at the finish, but that was a very secondary concern. This team simply have not stopped chasing wins; be they in friendly territory against the world’s best teams in Cork, or in tough conditions away from home when they needed to show the size of fight in the Wolfpuppies.

Terrific achievement for Noel McNamara, Ambrose Conboy, Kieran Campbell and everyone working with this side.

We’ll say it again, because it’s 12 years since we said it last.

Ireland U20s have won the Grand Slam.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell


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