Brave Ireland sunk by late English salvo
Ireland U-18: 12
England U-18: 29
Ireland Schools came within eight minutes of trumping a powerful England side in an adrenalin-fuelled contest at Donnybrook yesterday.
Ireland snatched the lead in the 56th minute when flanker Daniel Leavy fed prop Edward Byrne for a superbly worked try, converted by Mark Roche, for a 12-10 lead. The Irish were hampered by poor preparation -- the players only met on Monday -- against an England outfit powered by players conditioned by their Premiership clubs for the last two years and boosted by a summer tour.
The disparity in size was stark as England left-wing Anthony Watson popped up on the other side of the field to take Sam Hill's pass to the line in the 15th minute. Fly-half Will Hooley converted.
Ireland's only second-season player at this level, scrum-half Luke McGrath, sniped the blindside for a try to narrow the gap to two points at the break.
Hooley stretched it to five with a 37th-minute penalty before the home crowd was sent into rapture by Byrne's lunge for the line. However, England drove at Ireland before full-back Jack Nowell crossed in the corner. Henry Slade converted.
The home side couldn't execute their chances and breakaway tries from James Lightfoot-Brown and Mark Jennings killed the game.
Ireland -- J Fitzpatrick (Gonzaga); R Scholes (Campbell), S Glynn (PBC, Cork), C Farrell (Campbell), M Roche (Blackrock); S Crosbie (St Gerard's), L McGrath (St Michael's, capt); E Byrne (Clongowes Wood), A Murphy (St Michael's), A Boland (Blackrock), J Sexton (St Mary's), S McCarthy (Rockwell), D Leavy (St Michael's), J O'Neill (Castleknock), R Murphy (PBC, Cork).
Reps -- B Scott (PBC, Cork) for Murphy (22 -- temp); C McEllin (Blackrock) for Fitzpatrick (38); T Ferrari (Sligo Grammar) for Boland (58), C Taylor (Wallace High) for Byrne (58); G Thornbury (Blackrock) for Sexton (67), J Creighton (Campbell) for Crosbie (67); R Scannell (PBC, Cork) for Scholes (68), B Scott (PBC, Cork) for Murphy (68), S Hooks (Royal School Armagh) for McCarthy (68).