Ireland should maintain their winning ways when they tackle Scotland in the Electric Ireland u20 Six Nations Championship match under the Dubarry Park, Athlone, floodlights tonight, Friday March 9, kick off 7pm. Ireland have three wins from three starts and should account for the visitors who are rock bottom of the league table after shifting heavy defeats in their fixtures to date.
Ireland trail leaders England on scoring difference and it looks like a final day showdown to settle where the title will go this season. Ireland have still not clicked for a full 80 minutes in their three victories to date but, nevertheless, have shown exciting flashes of their potential. Coach Mike Ruddock is also keeping an eye on the forthcoming Junior World Cup so has experimented to some extent to ensure that he sees how virtually all his squad can perform in the heat of competitive fare.
Ulster’s Patrick Jackson is a composed captain at outhalf and, in the most recent win over Italy in Athlone, he regained his quality place-kicking to complement his all-round reading of a match. Connacht’s Kieran Marmion is his lively scrumhalf partner. Host club Buccaneers provide three players including Roscommon duo Danny Qualter at lock and the hugely exciting fullback Shane Layden from near Carrick-on-Shannon. Conor Finn from Aughrim, close to Ballinasloe, features on the wing with Leinster’s Foster Horan staking a strong claim for the other flank berth against Italy. Ulster’s Chris Farrell switched to centre last time out to good effect where he partners Munster’s JJ Hanrahan, who is also a quality place-kicker.
Second row Iain Henderson has been the standout forwards performer to date and he was partnered by Tadhg Beirne, who has Longford roots, against Italy. Conor Gilsenan from Mullingar is an abrasive operator in the backrow where he could link with fellow Leinster players Jack Conan and Jordan Coghlan, if the latter is preferred to Connacht’s Aaron Conneely who is another very able flanker.
All in all there is a fine balance in this Ireland squad and they should possess too much power and panache for the Scots. Consequently, a home win is the likely verdict and another bumper crowd at Dubarry Park should witness further improvement by the boys in green as they chase another u20 Six Nations title.
Tickets can be purchased in advance from Buccaneers office, contact Geraldine on (087 ) 1732711 or email [email protected] during office hours.
Tickets are also on sale at The Bounty and Musicworld, Golden Island, Athlone. Cash will also be taken at the turnstiles on match night but come along early to savour the atmosphere.