A Look At The Squad From The Last Time Ireland U20s Won A Grand Slam In 2007
Ireland U2os were crowned Six Nations Grand Slam champions last night for the first time in 12 years with an excellent 26-17 win over Wales.
A bonus-point win over England in the opening round, despite going two tries down to begin with, set them on their way in the Championship – and they didn’t look back, going on to defeat Scotland, Italy and France before last night’s excellent win away from home.
But what happened to the last Ireland U20s team that won a Six Nations Grand Slam back in 2007? Here’s the team that defeat Italy to secure the Championship on the final day.
IRELAND U-20: Felix Jones (Seapoint/Leinster); Shane Monahan (Dublin University/Leinster), Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Aidan Wynne (Buccaneers/Connacht), Keith Earls (Thomond/Munster); Ian Keatley (UCD/Leinster), Paul O’Donohoe (UCD/Leinster); Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Richard Sweeney (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Jamie Hagan (Greystones/Leinster), Conor McInerney (UCD/Leinster), Andrew Browne (Galwegians/Connacht), Thomas Anderson (Dungannon/Ulster), Kevin Sheahan (UCD/Leinster), David Pollock (QUB/Ulster) (capt).
Replacements used: Kyle Tonetti (Blackrock College/Leinster), Ruaidhri Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Neilus Keogh (UCC/Munster), Eoghan Grace (Shannon/Munster), David Drake (Ballymena/Ulster), Ger Slattery (Young Munster/Munster), Niall O’Connor (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster).
A good number of them went on to be full fledged professionals with their provinces, while some went even further. Keith Earls and Cian Healy have become two of the best in the world in their respective positions, becoming key men for Ireland and earning British and Irish Lions selection. A 19-year old future Lion in Luke Fitzgerald would have also featured had he not picked up an injury ahead of the tournament.
Leinster, Ireland and Lions back-row Sean O’Brien featured in Ireland’s first two games of the tournament before ironically missing the rest of the Championship through injury. Munster and Ireland openside Tommy O’Donnell was also a part of the squad.
Felix Jones and Ian Keatley had to go to Munster to make their names but both have enjoyed stellar careers and earned international honours. Jones was forced to retire a few years back through injury but has become one of the hottest coaching prospects in the country with Munster. Keatley meanwhile is currently plying his trade with London Irish ahead of a move to Benetton. And then there’s Darren Cave – 11 caps for Ireland an an incredible 210 for Ulster.
A number of other players went on to earn professional honours either in Ireland or abroad. If Ireland can get the same return from the class of 2019 it will be a job well done. We wouldn’t say no to another Keith Earls, Sean O’Brien or Cian Healy.