McAleese confident Ireland will bounce back against Scots

THE palpable sense of disappointment in the aftermath of Ireland U19’s 15-10 bonus point defeat to Australia, demonstrated a deep-rooted realisation that a top four finish — and a place in the World Championship semi-finals — is well within this side’s grasp.

According to Ireland coach Charlie McAleese, coping with a loss like last Thursday’s tends to linger with this age group.

But, he added, that the focus turned very quickly towards this evening’s second pool match against Scotland at Ravenhill (7.30pm).

The team rested on Friday and trained on Saturday before enjoying the AIB League ‘Ulster derby’ between Ballymena and Belfast Harlequins at Eaton Park. They wound down their preparations for the Scottish challenge with another training session yesterday.

“We’ve set our goals for the Scotland game,” McAleese said from the players’ luxurious base at the Dunadry House Hotel. “We know what we have to do now. The disappointment of the Australian game did linger a bit, which is understandable given the narrowness of the defeat. But I think they’re over that and the fact that there’s the carrot of ending in the top four is huge.”

On Thursday McAleese’s charges played with great passion and fed off the enthusiasm of the biggest ever attendance for an U19 international (6,715). But this team possess other virtues: a back-line laced with impressive, ball handling skill and a mobile pack. The lineout, thanks to the work of Bobby Byrne, functioned very smoothly against Australia and the front five held their own in the scrum – but poor decision-making at crucial junctures cost Ireland a famous result.

“We have to maintain our physicality, we have to maintain our high work ethic and we have to improve our decision-making on different plays and where we play with the ball,” warned McAleese.

While the Scots, says McAleese, can play an expansive game, he also feels this tie could be real dogfight as both teams (already on one bonus point) are eager to get a first win.

“We do need to be very wary of them because they’re very keen to spread the ball and play in all areas of the field. That’s going to test us all over the pitch.

Meanwhile there is one change to the Ireland for tonight’s game. Harry McAleese comes into the starting team at scrumhalf with Kris Greene moving to the replacements.

IRELAND U19 (v Scotland): A Craig (Instonians), N Morris (Blackrock College), E O’Malley (UCD) , C Cleary (St. Michael’s College), P Brophy (St. Michael’s College), S Deasy (Presentation Brothers College, Cork), H McAleese (Ballynahinch RFC), P Karayiannis (RBAI/Queens), S Douglas (Ballymena), M Nelson (Ballynahinch) , B Cawley (UCD), I Nagle (Glenstal Abbey), K Essex (Christian Brothers College, Cork/UCC), R Reilly (St. Michael’s College), P Ryan (Captain) (Blackrock College RFC).

Replacements: M Sherry (Ard Scoil Rís/Garryowen), I Leonard (St. Michael’s College), P McCabe (Dublin University), D Foley (U.L. Bohemians), J Harris-Wright (Blackrock College), P Mallon (St. Michael’s College), K Greene (St. Mary’s College), J Smith (Ballymena), M Kinsella (Newtown School, Waterford), A Gaughan (Buccaneers), T Seymour (Down High School).

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