All eyes were on Irish second-row Donnacha Ryan as he made a successful comeback from a head injury when Munster A took on the Ireland U20s in a challenge game at Thomond Park yesterday.
Munster A coach Mick O’Driscoll added Robin Copeland and Niall Scannell to the mix in a bid to lend increased experience but there was more concern as to how Ryan would fare in his return to action after sustaining two successive concussions against Leinster and Connacht last month. Happily, he came through 50 minutes of competitive action.
The second of those injuries forced him out of a late April national one-day squad session and yesterday’s appearance was the end of a return-to-play protocol.
Joe Schmidt, no doubt, was a very interested party, having watched the Munster player pick up a man-of-the-match award in Ireland’s clinical Six Nations win over Italy in March, and given he will be a top contender to join the Irish squad for the upcoming summer tour of South Africa.
It was a decent game, O’Driscoll’s charges storming into a 26-7 lead with tries from Niall Scannell, Conor Kearns, Rob Deegan, and Dan Walsh, as well as three conversions from Jamie Gavin against a Hugo Keenan try and Bill Johnston conversion.
But the youngsters from Ireland struck back with tries from Kelvin Brown, Vincent O’Brien, and Conall Boomer and a conversion from Rob Little to put it up to Munster, who were pleased to survive the late storm.
C Kearns; A Spring, R Deegan, P Kiernan, S McMahon; J Gavin, J Poland; L O’Connor, N Scannell (captain), B Scott; E Mintern, D Ryan; R Copeland, D Walsh, J Foley.
A Moloney, S O’Hanlon, T Cusack, B Mitchell, B O’Byrne, C Oliver, B Kilkenny, J Higgins, J Purcell, T McHale.
P Meyer (Munster), A Coyle (Leinster), P Poillet (Munster), R O’Donovan (Munster), A McBurney (Ulster), V O’Brien (Munster), C Gallagher (Connacht), J Ryan (Leinster, captain), S O’Leary (Munster), S O’Connor (Munster), G Jones (Leinster), K Brown (Munster), C Boomer (Ulster), D Aspil (Leinster), M Deegan (Leinster); S Kerins (Connacht), B Johnston (Munster), J McPhillips (Ulster), C O’Brien (Leinster), S Daly (Munster), H Keenan (Leinster), R Lyttle (Ulster), T Kennedy (Leinster), B Connon (Newcastle Falcons), J Stockdale (Ulster).