Friday 9 December 2016

O'Brien drawing on rare Paris success

Published 12/02/2016 | 02:30

Ireland coach Nigel Carolan. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Ireland coach Nigel Carolan. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile

In the aftermath of last Friday's disappointing defeat to Wales, Nigel Carolan admitted that Monday's video review session would be an ugly affair.

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It wasn't so much the defeat but rather the manner in which the Ireland U-20s were dominated in almost every aspect of play on their own turf. So was the review as bad as expected?

"Yeah it was very bad," centre Jimmy O'Brien conceded. "We all had individual reviews over the weekend so we all knew what was coming. Looking back it was horrible."

Ireland's task doesn't get any easier tonight as they travel to Narbonne to take on a French side who put 40 points on Italy in the opening round.

Ireland have only won once (2012) in France at this age-grade but crucially they can draw on their experiences of beating France in Marcoussis at U-19 level last year.

"We played two matches in Paris," O'Brien recalled. "We won the first one by three points and lost the second one quite heavily. We don't see it as an impossible task - we think we can win."

Assistant coach Peter Malone was involved with the U-19s last year as well and he admitted that playing in Narbonne in front of a hostile crowd is going to be completely different to what his young players experienced in Marcoussis.

Nevertheless, Malone is expecting a marked improvement on last week.

"It is a massive test. U-20 rugby is very close to professional rugby," he insisted. "The most similar environment crowd-wise is when you go to France. It's big pressure."

Ireland were physically dominated by a strong Welsh pack last week and up against a similarly big French side, another long night may lie ahead.

Verdict: France

France U-20 - R Buros; G Nandebe, D Penaud, A Arrate, E Roudil; A Belleau, C Kaiser; A Jelonch, J Cancoriet, M Voisi; M Tanguy, F Verhaegue; M Simutoga, B Mauvaka, Castets (capt). Reps: E El Ansari, Bourgarit, E Setiano, T Hannoyer, J-B Grenod, B Couilloud, A Septar, A Pilati.

Ireland U-20 - H Keenan; M Byrne, S Daly, J O'Brien, C O'Brien; J McPhillips, J Poland; A Porter, A McBurney, C Kenny; P Claffey, J Ryan (c); C Gallagher, D Walsh, M Deegan. Reps: S Fenton, J Bollard, C O'Donnell, S O'Connor, K Brown, S Keirns, B Connon, T Kennedy.

Live, RTE 2, 8.05.

Irish Independent

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