Ireland star named World U20 best player after setting the tournament alight
Last night was a bitterly disappointing occasion for Ireland U20 as they were comprehensively beaten 45-21 by a rampant England side in the World Rugby U20 Championship final.
The swashbuckling offence, tigerish breakdown pilfering, bulldozing scrum and piranha-like defence that saw Ireland upset Wales, New Zealand and Argentina went missing in the face of a simply awesome English performance.
The young men in white mirrored Eddie Jones' seniors in combining a monstrous forward effort with scintillating back play behind the scrum.
There are plenty of positives for Nigel Carolan's men to take from the tournament though. Captain James Ryan, fullback Jacob Stockdale and loosehead Andrew Porter all look like future Ireland internationals, while Number Eight Max Deegan is definitely on that track too.
The dynamic back row was one of the few Irishmen to emerge from last night's game with any credit, crossing the line for his third try of the tournament.
Not only does Deegan perform the traditional back row duties with aplomb, he also has searing pace - notice his interception try from his own 22 against Argentina in the semi-final - and a dexterous sleight of hand - his side-door offload for a try against Wales springs to mind.
With all those skills, it is unsurprising that he was nominated for Player of the Tournament before the final, and it is a testament to his consistent brilliance throughout the championship that he won the award despite finishing on the losing side.
Deegan beat out England out-half Harry Mallinder, who scored two tries en route to 25 points in the final, which is almost another achievement in itself.
Deegan is the third Irishman to be nominated for the honour, following JJ Hanrahan and Garry Ringrose, and the St Michael's past pupil will be hopeful of following that duo's progression into the professional ranks.
The back row was recently announced as a member of the Leinster academy for next season.