Schools' touch of quality enough to tip the balance


AGE GRADE INTERNATIONAL/Ireland Schools15 Ireland Clubs 5:SLICKER USE of the ball was the difference between these two, as centre Rory O’Loughlin and replacement wing David Busby finished off well-worked moves for the schools to outgun the clubs at Merrion Road yesterday.

This was a chance for coaches to gain further knowledge about their players, but the officiating was not sympathetic to their need to see their teams play ball.

The numerous reset scrums and a generally finicky attitude prevented the players from getting into any rhythm on a heavy pitch and under rainy conditions.

Schools centre Stephen O’Neill kicked a 10th minute penalty, which was followed by a superb try from O’Loughlin, following a swift interchange that owed everything to the timing of simple passes.

The match-defining breakthrough came in the 52nd minute when Busby simply fizzed down the right touchline at the end of a fine series of passes, sparked by outhalf Bobby Holland, with decoy runners holding defenders inside to create room outside. Replacement Gearóid Lyons converted from the touchline for a 15-0 lead.

The clubs reacted positively, and after concerted pressure around the fringes, replacement wing Adrian Enright crossed for a well-crafted try.

IRELAND SCHOOLS: C O’Donnell (St Munchin’s); I Fitzpatrick (King’s Hospital), R O’Loughlin (St Michael’s), S O’Neill (Terenure), G O’Shea (Crescent); B Holland (St Michael’s), R Foley (CBC Cork); C Slowey (CBC Cork), M Abbot (Pres Cork), S Meunargia (Marist, Athlone), R Molony (St Michael’s), S O’Brien (Roscrea), D Leavy (St Michael’s, capt), J O’Neill (Castleknock), P Timmins (Clongowes Wood). Replacements: D Busby (Portadown) for O’Shea, B Dardis (Terenure) for O’Donnell both ht; E McKeever (CBC Monkstown) for Meunargia (37 mins); S Delahunt (Kilkenny) for Slowey (39 mins); S Boyle (Sligo Grammar) for O’Brien (45 mins); H Brewer (Terenure) for O’Neill (47 mins); G Lyons (Crescent) for O’Neill (48 mins); D McGagh (Rockwell) for Foley, S Dwyer (Rockwell) for Leavy, B Alexander (RBAI) for Timmins (all 57 mins); D Donnellan (Clongowes Wood) for Abbot (59 mins). Scorers: R O’Loughlin, D Busby try each; S O’Neill pen; G Lyons con.

IRELAND CLUBS: A Webb (The Exiles); J O’Sullivan (The Exiles), A Byrne (UCD), S Keating (Dungarvan), J White (Enniscorthy); F Cleary (Navan), C Blade (Monivea); P Dooley (Birr), P O’Donnell (Galwegians), J Walshe (Ballinasloe), J Madigan (Charleville), R Blair (Ballymoney), F Taggart (The Exiles), J Bercis (The Exiles), J O’Donoghue (Waterpark). Replacements: S O’Hagan (The Exiles) for Keating, S Dalton (The Exiles) for Walshe (both 29 mins); A Enright (Abbeyfeale) for White, S Flannagan (Buccaneers) for O’Donnell, R Pepper-Hobbs (Westport) for Webb (all ht); K Sweeney (Malahide) for Bercis (46 mins); K O’Keeffe (Crosshaven) for Blade (51 mins); B Cunningham (Navan) for Dooley (61 mins). Scorers: A Enright try.

Referee: D Blake (IRFU).