Wednesday 21 March 2018

'Tremendous opportunity' awaits U-20s in session with Schmidt's men

U-20s heac coach Noel McNamara. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
U-20s heac coach Noel McNamara. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

One of the key aspects in the Ireland U-20s' setup over recent years involves players leading the review sessions.

It says a lot about the character of the squad that in the immediate aftermath of last Friday's win over Italy, the celebrations were very much muted.

For the majority of the players the bonus-point win was their first taste of Six Nations success, yet such was their sub-standard second-half performance, they knew they had gotten out of jail.

Playing against 14-men for over 70-minutes, Ireland never should never have found themselves clinging on at the death, but as it is, it will be filed away as another learning experience.

"It was almost a reversal of last week," head coach Noel McNamara reflected. "It was frustrating. We knew what was coming. We knew it was going to be important to keep our discipline because they were going to look for opportunities to drive us. That's exactly what happened.

"We gave away too many penalties, similar to the first half over in France. You've got to give credit to Italy, down to 14 players they stuck to their task really well and took their opportunities.

"It was a game that we shouldn't really have been hanging on in at the end.

"I think at half time we were in a good place. Certainly the message was that, we play the game as if it's a new half and we had to win it.

"There was certainly no indication that that was coming. I would certainly like to put two 40 minutes back-to-back. Not one second half of one week, and the first half of the next."

The review won't be pretty when the squad reconvene before they turn their attentions to Thursday's open training session with the senior team in Athlone.

The players will address the issues, while McNamara and his staff will also have their say.

"When you identify things, you identify it for the benefit of the group," McNamara maintained.

"It's never about highlighting one individual, it's highlighting trends. It's highlighting things we can collectively be better at.

"The players will be hard on themselves. They'll be hard on each other. We certainly won't shy away from the areas where we need to be better.

"It's a mix of emotions. Listen, it's positive. We scored 38 points, we got five points. There is certainly frustrations. The players weren't in the changing room jumping about.


"They've just won a Six Nations game and taken five points from it but they knew themselves that they can be better and I think that's a positive reflection on them as a group."

Thursday's session in Dubarry Park will provide the U-20s with a stern test against Joe Schmidt's men, but they are relishing the prospect.

"What a tremendous opportunity to train with the senior team," McNamara added.

"Obviously they are on a high. We're in on Wednesday for the review and we'll do a little preview on Wales.

"We're really looking forward to the opportunity to train against the seniors. The reality is, they'll punish us if we make some of the same mistakes, so we'll need to be better."'s U-20s Six Nations coverage is in association with PwC

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