Thursday 17 January 2019

'The Captain's Curse' strikes yet again for luckless Kelly

Ireland U20 Jack Kelly. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland U20 Jack Kelly. Photo: Sportsfile

The 'Captain's Curse' has struck again for Ireland U20 leader Jack Kelly.

He will probably not make it back for Ireland's final fixture against the champions England at Donnybrook on Friday night.

The Leinster Academy back, selected at outside centre for Wales, was removed in the second-half of the 41-27 defeat with a shoulder injury.

Kelly had already missed out on the victories over Italy and France following injury in the first round against Scotland.

Coach Nigel Carolan will have to make a decision on whether or not to recall Cillian Gallagher, the man who replaced Kelly as captain in Italy.

The back five forward's participation is in the balance as the Connacht man works his way back from an injury to the AC-joint in his shoulder.

Ireland won't even play for The Championship as their fall to Wales in Colwyn Bay leaves the Irish in third behind England and the Welsh.

For the first time, Ireland actually managed to combine forward aggression with three-quarter penetration to put their game plan into operation on Saturday.

They even clawed their way back from a 14-point deficit in the second-half with tries from Tadgh McElroy and Paul Boyle to make it a drawn game going into the last 28 minutes.

At this point, Ireland had three tries in the bag, all the momentum and the motivation to know that one more try could mean a bonus-point win and five valuable points.

However, the game swung on the binning of replacement Conor Fitzgerald for giving away two successive penalties close to the Irish line.

They quickly conceded seven points, but survived further damage until Fitzgerald's return in the 70th minute.

Sadly, they could make no further impression on Wales, despite a dominant scrum, eventually falling to a late sucker-punch to leave Parc Eilias without a single point.

They will be able to salvage a feel-great factor from the Six Nations should they manage to dent England's domination of the competition by denying them the Grand Slam.

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