Murray Kinsella reports from Cumbernauld
THE IRELAND SUPPORTERS who made the trek to Cumbernauld on Friday were greeted by icy and wet weather, but late wins for the U20s and Women were warming rewards.
Ireland celebrate their win in Scotland. Source: Craig Watson/INPHO
After Paula Fitzpatrick and her team-mates had secured a last-gasp victory in their Six Nations opener, thanks to a Jenny Murphy try, the U20s pulled off a similar feat against their Scottish counterparts.
A late Paul Boyle score, converted by out-half Johnny McPhillips, was enough for Nigel Carolan’s latest crop of talented young Irishmen to get off to a 20-19 winning start in their Six Nations.
Though the weather conditions ensured a high error count on both sides, there were glimpses of the potential in this Irish team, with second rows Oisin Dowling and Fineen Wycherley outstanding.
Number eight Caelan Doris and blindside Cillian Gallagher were also excellent, proving their quality most notably in the build-up to that Boyle try with some powerful carrying.
“There’s guys there, without a doubt, who’ll be playing international rugby in a few years,” said head coach Carolan afterwards.
“I thought the two locks today were unbelievable. I thought Caelan Doris, an 18-year-old number eight, had an unbelievable game. He didn’t want to come off in the end, but he had emptied the tank and I thought he was massive today.
“There’s huge potential in the group, so for us just getting that team cohesion is going to be the biggest challenge and we’re only going to get better as the campaign goes on.
Number eight Caelan Doris was excellent. Source: Craig Watson/INPHO
“It’s a good starting point to come over to Scotland, we haven’t won here for a few years, so to come away with a win – albeit by one point – we’ll certainly take the positives out of that.”
Gallagher and McPhillips were the only two players back for the U20s from last year’s campaign, but their experience was important in a tense affair at Broadwood Stadium.
“I thought Johnny was huge, having that year of experience, you could hear the chat out of him,” said Carolan. “We were asking what he was saying and he was on the money, even at the last play of the game on our scrum he was on about keeping the ball and getting into the little zigzag that we do.