O'Connell looks on as rising stars shine bright
Thomond Park hosted the future stars of Irish rugby last week, with the annual challenge game between a Munster Development XV and the Ireland U-20s once again an entertaining contest.
Munster led 28-0 at the interval but the young Irish side fought their way back to score 21 points in the second half to give a final score of 35-21.
Munster's try scorers were Rory Burke, Bailey Faloon, John Madigan, David McCarthy and Greg O'Shea while Shannon out-half Fitzgerald enjoyed a 100pc record off the tee, kicking all five conversions.
Jordan Larmour, Caelan Dorris and Tommy O'Brien all crossed for the visitors, with Conor Dean and Ciarán Frawley kicking conversions.
Munster Rugby elite player development officer Greig Oliver took charge of the hosts with Paul O'Connell the assistant coach in his first coaching involvement with a representative side.
Fourteen Munster players were selected in the December training camps for the Ireland U-20s as part of preparations for the 2017 Six Nations Championship.
Three Greencore Munster Rugby Academy players were included: Gavin Coombes, Calvin Nash and Fineen Wycherley.
Young Munster had four players in the squad: two forwards (Gavin Coombes and Wycherley) and two backs (Alan Tynan and Nash).
Three Garryowen players were included, all backs: Peadar Collins, Liam Coombes and Daniel Hurley.
Shannon half-back pairing Jack Stafford and Conor Fitzgerald were selected along with clubmate Adam Moloney (hooker).
Cork Constitution had a forward and a back involved, centre Alex McHenry and prop Sam Deane.
UL Bohemians loosehead prop Joey Conway and scrum-half James Lennon were also included.
Munster's Tynan, McHenry, Lennon, Moloney and Conway all featured for the Ireland squad in the challenge match while academy lock Wycherley, Stafford, Fitzgerald and Liam Coombes lined out for the province.