Rugby Union: McGowan looks made to measure

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The Independent Online
Ireland Under-21. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

Wales Under-21. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11

IRELAND are after an outside- half, or out-half as they call it here, and now they have found one, writes Steve Bale. Alan McGowan, a Dubliner of silken skills and an educated left foot, looked as if he could have outplayed the Welsh on his own at Donnybrook yesterday.

In fact, it was a splendid - and, in its modest way, historic - collective effort by an Irish team containing others who will assuredly make their way into the senior international side in due course. McGowan was simply the pick of the bunch as Wales collapsed to their first defeat in 14 matches at this level going back to 1987.

He had already impressed for Leinster against Australia 11 days ago, a fine effort considering he was opposite Michael Lynagh and confronted by the Wallabies' Test back row. Compared with that, this was a doddle, and the only decision now to be made is when rather than if. Another year seems reasonable and, bearing in mind the lad's own interests, sensible.

In the early part of yesterday's proceedings he did not look as if he would have the opportunity. Wales began brightly: Huw Harries, soon to be a casualty, spotted an opening on the short side and delivered an exquisite long pass to the accelerating James Reynolds. When the try was followed by two penalties by Jason Williams, the protracted Welsh under-21 record seemed safe.

On the contrary. The home pack picked up their game and, with McGowan providing simple and effective tactical direction, Ireland's win deserved to be more conclusive. Roger Wilson scored a pushover try, McGowan scuttled through for the second and finally Irish forward power brought a third try by Gary Longwell.

For Wales it could have been worse, and would have been if Justin Redrup had received his desserts from the referee, Colin Henderson, who somehow allowed him to stay on the field when he had responded to Stephen Tynan's failure to release his one foot by kicking him on the head with the other.

Ireland: Tries Wilson, McGowan, Longwell; Conversions McGowan 2; Penalty McGowan. Wales: Try Reynolds; Penalties Williams 2.

IRELAND UNDER-21: I Gray (Queen's University); D Sheehan (Garryowen), R Hunter (Northampton), S Tynan (Terenure College), G McCluskey (Portadown); A McGowan, N Assaf (Blackrock College); M Carroll (Old Belvedere), S Byrne (Blackrock College), P Wallace (University College Cork, capt), G Longwell (Queen's University), B Cusack (Bective Rangers), L Toland (Old Crescent), R Wilson (Instonians), D Corkery (Constitution).

WALES UNDER-21: D Weatherley (Swansea); C Young, M Wintle (Llanelli), J Redrup (Newport), J Reynolds (Neath); J Williams (Abertillery), H Harries (Cardiff); R Jones (Llanelli), J Evans (Bryncoch, capt), S Price (Llanharan), L Harvey (Maesteg), G Taylor (newbridge), G Jones (Llanelli), P Jones (Neath), I Callaghan (Dunvant). Replacements: W Morris (Aberavon) for Harries, 7; R Appleyard (Swansea) for Callaghan, 70; R Jones (Llanelli) for Taylor, 73.

Referee: C Henderson (Scotland).