Five Ireland U20 youngsters who stood out in magnificent World Championship win over England
Ireland got off to the perfect start at the U20 World Championship in Argentina last night with a commanding 42-26 win over England in their pool opener.
The tournament structure sees three groups of four teams compete, with the top three teams and the best runner-up advancing to the semi-finals. Noel McNamara's side, who claimed a Six Nations Grand Slam in March, now face Australia this Saturday knowing that a second victory will put them in a strong position to make the final four ahead of their final pool game against Italy.
Just like during that spring clean sweep, there were a number of inspirational performers on the Irish team. What makes the emphatic victory alll the more remarkable is that Ireland are shorn of a number of key men from earlier in the year, chiefly out-half Harry Byrne and flanker Scott Penny.
Still, in the face of so many absences, a number of other players stepped up and delivered in style.
Here are five youngsters who stood out against England.
The former Glenstal Abbey out-half started the game on the bench behind Jake Flannery but gave a match-winning cameo off the bench in a very assured performance. Healy was flawless from the tee, nailing four conversions from four including a tricky touchline effort after dotting down in the corner for a try of his own. A few booming touch-finders helped ease the pressure on Ireland as they closed out the win, and Healy will be in the frame to start against Australia on Saturday.
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The Ulster flanker typified the beef of the Irish pack, who were lethal in close quarters against a muscular England outfit. McCann squeezed over twice for crucial scores and carried well all day alongside John Hodnett at openside flanker.
The Connacht hooker has emerged as one of Ireland's talismans. Solid at the line-out, where he has two imposing targets in Charlie Ryan and Ryan Baird, Tierney-Martin comes into his own in the loose. The abrasive youngster consistently gains extra yards.
Ireland's backline is much-changed to the attack that started the Six Nations, with a number of players dropping out through injury. Ulster's Moore has benefited and took his chance last night. He formed an effective partnership with Liam Turner, with both men causing the England defence problems with the ball in hand. He also showed brilliant awareness of the laws to sneak around the English breakdown to touch down for Ireland's second try.
Another replacement who offered a lot from the bench, Watters came in for the injured number eight Azur Allison after just 24 minutes but Ireland were no worse for it as the St Mary's man got over the gain-line consistently. Could be a key man as part of a strong back row against Australia.