Noel backs return to Cork for U20 side

Noel McNamara has thrown his weight behind a return to Cork for Ireland’s 2020 Under-20 Six Nations home games. The U20 Grand Slam winners will welcome Scotland, Wales and Italy to these shores when their title defence gets underway next February.

Having staged previous home games in Dublin, the IRFU changed venues for 2019 and sell-out crowds at Musgrave Park were rewarded with victories over England and France.

Asked if he would like to see a return to Cork for future U20 home games, the Ireland U20 boss was unequivocal.

“Absolutely. I think Cork was a revelation, you can’t say otherwise,” McNamara said. “Over the course of the two games almost 14,000 people went to them and the atmosphere was absolutely electric.

“You can’t but say it was a great success. The players loved it, the opposition didn’t and what more can you ask for? It is a great surface and I think everything about it from our perspective was a success. The Cork people were very open and welcoming and really took to the team.”

McNamara’s favourite moment of the campaign, he said, came during the opening game against England when Ireland had been under the pump but were re-energised by the home supporters.

“The standout moment for me in the championship was that defensive stand down in the right-hand corner of Musgrave against England. There were a number of reset scrums. “We were down to seven at one stage and you talk about pivotal moments but I think the crowd really got behind them in that period. It was a critical moment in the course of that game and in the bigger picture over the course of the championship.

“So for me, I would definitely be really keen to see it back in Cork again. It was brilliant, absolutely brilliant.”

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