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Shane Jennings’ wonder try evokes memories of mentor Mannion’s score in ‘89

The Ballinasloe-born centre is the latest rugby star to emerge from the Galway town.

Jennings scores his wonder try.
Jennings scores his wonder try.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

NO IRELAND TRIP to Cardiff would be complete without some reference to that try in 1989.

You know the one, a young fella from Ballinasloe racing down the wing before touching down. Well, today we had the sequel, Shane Jennings scoring a superb effort for the Ireland Under 20s in their comprehensive win over Scotland in the opening game of the Six Nations.

Like Noel Mannion, Jennings is a Ballinalsoe man. Unlike Mannion, he does his talking in the centre rather than in the backrow. It just so happens that Noel Mannion – capped 16 times for Ireland – was his mentor as a kid. “A friend of the family’s,” explained Jennings, the flame-haired Connacht player who lit up the Arms Park for Ireland’s Under 20s this afternoon.

“Playing for Ireland, do you know, it’s just such an honour for my family, for all the people who worked with me on the way up,” he said afterwards.

Mannion was one of his early mentors, ‘one of the people who got me into rugby’ and who later worked with him at Garbally College. Does Jennings know about the try in 1989? Does he what? “Yeah,” he smiled, “I’ve seen it many times on YouTube.

They’ll soon be clicking on social media to see Jennings’ score from today, a wonderful finish, assisted by the presence of his captain, Alex Kendellen, on his left shoulder, and his house mate, fellow Connacht centre, Cathal Forde, on his right. Jennings ignored both to touch down.

“It was a great feeling to get my try,” said Jennings, “but I suppose you have to give credit to the lads, there was a lot of work put in on the far side of the pitch for things to open up for me. I had an easy job.”

On the surface it looks like Ireland also had an easy job but long before the game opened up and the tries started flowing in, this game was a tense affair, the scores locked at 7-7 just before half-time. Then, in the space of five minutes either side of the break, Scotland lost one player to a yellow card and a second to a red. That changed everything, Ireland running out comfortable 38-7 victors.

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Their next game is Friday against Wales, again in the Arms Park. Those Ballinasloe memories of ’89 aren’t going to fade just quite yet.

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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