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Denis Leamy Confident of Ireland U20s Defence

Ireland under-20’s Defence Coach Denis Leamy was impressed with the defensive effort the side showed last week and expects more of the same tonight.

Leamy praised the side’s work all over the pitch to keep Scotland at bay.

However, he wished that they did not concede to Scotland, even if it was only once.

“I think, you know, we could have been a little bit better there on that particular try…[but for the] first day out, we [are] happy, and we understand that [Wales] is a different challenge and that there is a lot more growth in us,” Leamy said.

However, the momentum of the win is hugely important for this U20 side, as Leamy added.

The defence coach says it has allowed the side to kick on and move forward.

“Going back to my time in Six Nations squads; getting that first win, getting out of the blocks and that feel-good factor. You know, you are away from home – you are in hotels, you are cooped up a little bit – it just helps so much. It’s so important.”

The former Ireland flanker commended the front row and the back row for their U20 Six Nations opener performances.

Leamy stated that the starting front row against Scotland put in a massive shift while the back row could be seen everywhere.

Regardless, some changes have been made to the side facing Wales tonight with six new faces coming into the starting lineup, including two new props.

Leamy says that this is down to fatigue amongst other things.

“It’s about being sensible and about protecting players as well and using the quality that we have.”

The starting back row from the Scotland game is all on the team sheet but Alex Soroka will be at lock forward tonight.

Leamy noted the versatility of the Leinster academy product and when asked if he saw similarities to Ireland international Tadhg Beirne’s versatility, he responded positively.

The 39-year-old listed some traits that he felt underlined Soroka’s flexibility in the pack.

“Alex is similar – he’s very athletic, he’s a very good footballer, he’s a real point of difference as a jumper, he’s very strong in that lineout in both attack and defence.”

The coach loves his new role with the U20s and says it takes him back to when he was playing.

He cited the likes of Noel McNamara and Trevor Hogan as figures that he has learned a lot from since he was appointed as Leinster’s Elite Player Development Officer in 2019.

Leamy has taken what he has learned from them and his role at Leinster into the Ireland camp in Cardiff.

He encourages players to have the same mentality he did on the pitch but to carry out their tackles in a fair manner.

“We certainly do like players who have an edge and channel it in the right way.”

As for the Welsh side they face tonight, Leamy singled out one player who could make a difference for Ioan Cunningham’s team.

Carwyn Tuipolotu has caught the eye of the 57-time Ireland international ahead of the game tonight.

His stature and carrying is something that Leamy feels that his defence needs to shut down, but the Tipperary native also made note of Wales’ system.

“They can go to width, they can go through you, they can go over you so it’s a challenge, but it’s been a brilliant week and it’s been really, really good trying to prep for this challenge and it has been very, very enjoyable – all-in.”

The defence coach clarified that the whole camp has been an enjoyable experience thus far in his opinion.

Leamy feels lucky to be over in Cardiff with the squad after everything that has happened in the world.

He labelled the atmosphere as “light” and said that the squad have even gone for ice creams.

However, he noted that the personnel in the camp know why they are there.

“We’re not here for a party, we’re here to get the job done.”

The game against Wales kicks off at 8:00 pm and will be available to watch on RTÉ One.



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