Noel McNamara was keeping the feet of his Ireland Under-20s firmly on the ground after the defending champions got their Six Nations campaign off to a flying start with a
Ireland notched a six-try 38-26 victory over the Scots as the 2020 successors to last year’s Grand Slam team got their campaign up and running in impressive style but the concession of a four-try bonus point to Sean Lineen’s battling Scotland side, secured with an overtime score at Musgrave Park, was enough for the head coach to temper his praise with four matches still to play.
“I think if you look at the result it’s obviously a positive,” McNamara said.
“There were aspects of the performance that we‘d be really pleased with and I think it’s fair to say there are a lot of things that we can develop further as well, so from that perspective it’s probably a good place to be.”
There was a similar theme to McNamara’s assessment of fly-half Jack Crowley’s man of the match performance. The former Bandon Grammar star, now a member of the Munster sub-academy and playing regularly at number 10 for Energia All Ireland League leaders Cork Constitution, wowed the crowds with a superb individual try on the stroke of half-time that was the second of his two tries on his competitive U20 debut.
Picking up turnover ball deep inside the Irish 22, Crowley ran the length of the pitch to score under the posts, showing brilliant footwork to evade two Scottish defenders on his 22, then rapid acceleration to break upfield before using his power to fend off Scotland full-back Ollie Smith before heading infield to touch down Ireland’s third try. Crowley also added the extras for a return of four from five attempts and McNamara praised the X-factor the Cork player, who turned 20 a fortnight ago, brought to the party.
“Yeah, absolutely. The reality with Jack is he’s been playing consistently with Cork Con in the AIL and he’s been playing well. There were some really positive aspects, obviously it’s eye-catching when anyone runs the length he did to score but equally, there’s areas for him to tighten up.
“There were a couple of turnovers and a couple of things that he won’t be happy with in his own performance so I think that’s the overarching thing you would say. There were lots of positives for us but it’s only green shoots. It’s one game so nobody’s getting carried away and Jack’s in exactly the same boat.”