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Keith Earls and Ger Slattery celebrate
Inpho/Dan Sheridan
Slam Dunk For The Roaring Twenties.
3 March 2007, 11:26 am
By Pat Geraghty
The Ireland Under 20s rounded off a great season when they came from behind to defeat Italy (U21) 36-25 in Benevento on Friday and claim the Grand Slam.
And as they had done last time out against the Scots, the Irish boys did it the hard way. After an error prone and sometimes indisciplined No ALT tag specifiedopening half they trailed 20-7 as the half-time whistle beckoned. However, an injury time Felix Jones try cut the gap and tries in the opening ten minutes of the second half, from Darren Cave and and Ian Keatley edged the Irish in front and from then on there was only ever going to be one winner.

Afterwards delighted coach Eric Elwood said, No ALT tag specified"It's been brilliant and what this squad has achieved is really special. I obviously played for Ireland, in World Cups as well as the championship, but this is probably the best day in terms of my involvement with the sport. To win a Triple Crown and Grand Slam is just brilliant. It's a special, special day.

"There were times - the first 20 minutes - when we caused ourselves problems and we had to overcome some other issues but the boys responded superbly."

Ireland: F Jones (Seapoint); S Monahan (Dublin University), D Cave (Belfast Harlequins), A Wynne (Buccaneers), K Earls (Thomond); I Keatley (UCD), P O'Donohue (UCD); C Healy (Clontarf), R Sweeney (St Mary's College), J Hagan (Greystones); C McInerney (UCD), A Browne (Galwegians); T Anderson (Dungannon), K Sheahan (UCD), D Pollock (capt). Replacements : K Tonetti (Blackrock) for Cave (36-40(+2) mins); R Murphy (Lansdowne) for Hagan (55 mins); N Keogh (UCC) for Browne (67 mins); E Grace (Shannon) for Sheahan, D Drake for O'Donohue (both 70 mins); Tonetti for Monahan (75 mins); G Slattery (Young Munster) for Sweeney (81mins); N O'Connor for Keatley (83 mins). Sinbinned: T Anderson (30 mins); C McInerney (77 mins).

Italy: G Rubini; M Sepe, A Sgarbi, D Duca, G Pavan; E Ceccatoi, F Semenzato; P Sciamanna, D Giazzon, A de Marchi; A Saccardo, L No ALT tag specifiedBeccaris; N Duca, F Cristiano, P Derbyshire (capt). Replacements : F Flamini for Derbyshire (29-31 mins); R Paven for Sepe (46 mins); N Gatto for Giazzon (51 mins); T Tebaldi for G Pavan (55 mins); L Giovanchelli for di Marchi (66 mins); E Ceccato for Sciamana (69 mins); F Minto for Saccardo (75 mins).

Referee: D Rosich (France).

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