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Paul O'Connell's coaching career off to a winning start at Thomond Park

The former Ireland captain watched on as a Munster Development XV ran in five tries this afternoon.

O'Connell watches on from the coaching booth.
O'Connell watches on from the coaching booth.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

PAUL O’CONNELL’S FIRST official coaching assignment ended in victory this afternoon as a Munster Development XV ran in five tries to beat Ireland U20s at Thomond Park.

The former Ireland and Munster second row watched on from the stands as the home side recorded a 35-21 victory in a game featuring players from Nigel Carolan’s extended Six Nations panel.

O’Connell, in the role of assistant to the side’s head coach Greig Oliver, would have been encouraged by what he saw as both sides produced an exciting, and free-flowing, game of rugby from start to finish.

With the annual challenge match designed to give players a window of opportunity to impress ahead of the 2017 Championship, it was Munster who started brightly and the southern province raced into a 28-0 lead by half-time.

Rory Burke, Bailey Faloon, John Madigan and David McCarthy all crossed for Munster before the interval with Conor Fitzgerald boasting a 100% kicking record from the tee.

Paul O'Connell's coaching career off to a winning start at Thomond Park
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  • Adam Moloney and James French.

    Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
  • Munster's Jack Lyons.

    Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
  • Colm de Buitleár just about stays in play.

    Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
  • Caelan Dorris scored a late try for Ireland U20s.

    Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
  • Conor Fitzgerald kicked five conversions from five.

    Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
  • Ryan Feehily clears his lines.

    Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
  • Greg O'Shea goes over for Munster's fifth try.

    Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
  • Jack Lyons makes a break.

    Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
  • Conor Dean dejected at full-time.

    Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Ireland U20s did respond on the restart and Jordan Larmour — who has featured for Leinster A in recent weeks — managed to break Munster’s defensive line and dot down.

There was, however, more to come from Munster as Greg O’Shea added a fifth try before Caelan Dorris and Tommy O’Brien added scores for Ireland.

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Preparations for the U20 Six Nations will intensify next month with Ireland’s opening game of the campaign against Scotland at Broadwood Stadium on 3 February.

Munster Development XV: Steven McMahon ( S Fitzgerald 52); Liam Coombes, David Johnston (Capt.), David McCarthy, Greg O’Shea; Conor Fitzgerald (A Molloy 66), Jack Stafford (J Lyons 52); Liam O’Connor (J French 58), Niall Mulcahy (D Barron 63), Rory Burke (R O’Donovan 63); Fineen Wycherley, John Madigan (R Coffey 40); Bailey Falloon, Jack Daly, Evan Mintern.

Ireland U20 XV: Alan Tynan; Jordan Larmour, Jack Kelly, Alex McHenry, Tommy O’Brien; Conor Dean, James Lennon; Greg McGrath, Shane O’Hehir, Ciarán McHugh; Jack Regan, Oisin Dowling; Caelan Dorris, Sean Masterson, Marcus Rae.

Replacements: Adam Moloney, Joey Conway, Cillian Gallagher, Richard Dunne, Ryan Feehily, Ciarán Frawley, Colm de Buitleár, Conor Kelly.

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