Sunday 23 October 2016

History beckons for Carolan's youngsters

Nigel Carolan. Photo: Sportsfile
Nigel Carolan. Photo: Sportsfile

It would be dangerous to read too much into Ireland's Six Nations win away in England at the end of February.

For example, Ireland coach Nigel Carolan will have half-a-dozen changes in personnel, most of them not by choice.

However, the inclusion of number eight Max Deegan and full-back Jacob Stockdale, the great improvement in goal-kicking from fly-half Johnny McPhillips and the proven ability to thrive in adversity, rank Ireland as a good shot for glory.

The English looked better on paper than they did on the field of play in Manchester until they got their act together against South Africa in the semi-final.

They retain just seven of those pained by the loss to Ireland in the Six Nations.

Coach Martin Haag has been able to embellish his squad with the Premiership talent of Harry Mallinder and Johnny Williams along with the nose-in-the-dirt work of openside Will Evans.

Where Ireland have been hurt by the loss of central characters, England have been improved by the introduction of experience.

The Irish set-piece will be the basis for their go-forward and a fast-up defence must be deployed to wrap up the English three-quarters.

Or else.

Ireland: J Stockdale; M Byrne, S Daly, C O'Brien, H Keenan; J McPhillips, S Kerins; A Porter, A McBurney, B Betts, S O'Connor, J Ryan (capt), G Jones, D Aspil, M Deegan.
England: M Malins; S Aspland-Robinson, J Marchant, J Williams, M Gallagher; H Mallinder (capt), M Green; L Boyce, J Singleton, B Walker, S South, H Taylor, G Nott, W Evans, C Chick.
Verdict: Ireland.
u20 world cup: England v Ireland (today, 7.0, live tg4/ss1)

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