Thursday 22 August 2019

McCarthy: We can't give England U-20s too much respect

England arrive in the capital as world champions but Ireland captain Nick McCarthy doesn’t fear them in the slightest.
England arrive in the capital as world champions but Ireland captain Nick McCarthy doesn’t fear them in the slightest.
Former Ireland U-20 captain Nick McCarthy. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The fact that Ireland and England's U-20s have not played each other in Dublin since 2005 is just a minor sub-plot to this evening's (7.05) mouthwatering clash at Donnybrook.

The main reason why a large crowd is expected is because these are the two most exciting teams to watch in the U-20s Six Nations championship.

England arrive in the capital as world champions but Ireland captain Nick McCarthy doesn't fear them in the slightest.

Nigel Carolan's side sit top of the table having won both of their opening games but this is undoubtedly their toughest test.

"You can't give them too much respect - I think at times teams might get a bit scared of them even just because they're such a big side," McCarthy said.

"England are always traditionally a massive, physical side and you really have to stand up to them. It's important that we get our defence right.

"As you saw in the French game, our attack is in a good place so if we get that defence right, we'll be in a good place."

The feelgood factor surrounding the U-20s camp is refreshing - when they're playing this free-flowing brand of rugby, it's difficult not to be excited about their prospects.

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England, however, are also a hugely impressive outfity and they have several players primed for the top; McCarthy isn't underestimating the scale of the challenge that his side face.

"We've had two really good wins and we've a good bit of momentum behind us, but we've parked those two now," the 19-year old said. "Our focus is on England and we're really looking forward to it. It's a massive challenge for us.

"We've got a really good back-line and if we get to run teams around, we'll be in a good spot. If the boys do well up front, they'll give us a good platform to attack out wide."

With the likes of Garry Ringrose, Billy Dardis and Stephen Fitzgerald in that back-line, Ireland have an abundance of pace and power.

Donnybrook's new 4G surface is sure to make it an open game with both sides having already shown in the opening two games a willingness to get their back-line moving as often as possible.

Despite that fact, as a scrum-half, McCarthy is cautious of "overplaying it too much".

"It definitely comes down to the half-backs. If we're smart about it, we can really boss the game and put the ball into the right places," he said. "Wales did really well against them, fronted up physically and got off the line in defence to put them under pressure. I think we can match Wales in that sense."

England's surprise defeat to Wales has shown their vulnerability and under Carolan's tutelage, you can be certain that Ireland will take the game to them.

It has all the ingredients to be a thriller. A thriller that Ireland can just about shade.

Verdict: Ireland

Ireland - B Dardis; J Owens, G Ringrose, S Arnold, S Fitzgerald; R Byrne, N McCarthy (c); J Loughman, Z McCall, O Heffernan; D O'Connor, A Thompson; J Murphy, R Moloney, L Dow. Reps: A McBurney, M Lagan, C O'Donnell, C Romaine, N Timoney, J Cullen, J Carbery, H Brewer.

England - A Morris; G Perkins, J Marchant, N Tompkins, H Packman; O Bryant, J Mitchell; E Genge, J Walker, C Parker; K Treadwell, C Ewels; J Batley, W Owen, J Chisholm. Reps: J Innard, S Adeniran-Olule, P Hill, C Beckett, S Skinner, W Homer, P O'Conor, T Howe.

Ireland v England, Live RTE2, 7.05

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