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Irish rising stars out to build momentum



Noel McNamara

Noel McNamara

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Noel McNamara

It said a lot about the standards that Noel McNamara expects from his Ireland U-20s side that even after a bonus point win, his immediate thoughts were more about the manner in which Scotland were allowed back into the game.

Even allowing for the inevitable nerves on what was the biggest occa­sion any of the players had been involved in, it was a fair assessment from the head coach. As an attacking threat, Ireland were hugely impressive at times, but defensively they weren't as hot, which will have been a big focus this week.

A battered and bruised Wales outfit arrive in Irish Independent Park this evening looking to make up for their shocking home defeat to Italy.

Ulster's Hayden Hyde was a huge source of go-forward ball last time out and if the powerful centre can provide a similar kind of platform, Ireland must take advantage.

"This week with that cohesion built up and people are a bit more understanding of how each other play, we'll be more ruthless in there and take opportunities when they're presented," assistant coach Kieran Campbell said.

"But it's a nice thing to be talking about little issues at this point after a solid win and five points under your belt as opposed to huge under-perfor­mance. It's a nice place to be."

Ireland will be expecting a major backlash from Wales, but if they can get the better of them up front, they should be able to make it two wins from two.

David McCann again skippers the team from No 8, and the Ulsterman will be hoping that his side can heap more misery on Wales.

"There's no doubt they'll bring a different challenge than Scotland," Campbell added.

Ireland U20s: O McNulty; B Moxham, D Kelly, H Hyde, A Smith; J Crowley, L Finlay; M Hannan, T Stewart, T Clarkson; T Ahern, B Deeny; S O'Brien, Mark Hernan, D McCann. Reps: J McKee, H Noonan, C Ward, J McCarthy, C Prendergast, B Murphy, T Corkery, L Faria.

Belfast Telegraph