Saturday 24 February 2018

Ireland ready to unleash Marsh

u18 five nations

Ireland's near return from the dead against Wales -- coming within a converted try of an unlikely comeback victory-- could not paper over the cracks apparent in the 24-18 defeat at the U18 Five Nations Festival.

This is an exquisite footballing side but without the power and physical development required against the professionally prepared Welsh and English.

Ireland coach Terry McMaster has made five changes to his side to face England -- tournament rules dictate that every player must start at least one match. Full-back Ross Jones, out-half Cathal Marsh, prop Kyle McCall, lock Jack Conan and blindside Conor Gilsenan have all been introduced.

The most interesting of these is St Michael's play-maker Marsh, an intelligent user of the ball who possesses the best handling skills seen in Irish rugby in a long time. The deficit in his tactical and goal-kicking has been addressed by moving Paddy Jackson to inside centre.

For all of England's huff and puff against Scotland in their 29-9 win, there was a lack of subtlety. It was predictable and robotic as they relied on their enormous front eight. However, England are a significant step ahead of Wales in their development. They will bring a juggernaut of a pack and a quick, powerful three-quarter line that are unlikely to be denied in Llandovery today.

Ireland -- R Jones (Castleknock); M Corballis (St Michael's), P Nelson (Royal, Dungannon), P Jackson (Methodist), S Coghlan-Murray (Newbridge); C Marsh (St Michael's), L McGrath (St Michael's); R Harrison (Methodist), N Scannell (PBC Cork, capt), K McCall (Wallace High), J Conan (St Gerard's), S Buckley (Rockwell), C Gilsenan (Clongowes Wood), A Conneely (Colaiste Iognaid), D Qualter (Sligo Grammar).

Irish Independent

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