Ireland’s U20s have won the Grand Slam with a Clare man at the helm.
Noel McNamara from O’Callaghans Mills guided Ireland to a 6 Nations clean sweep on Friday evening securing the title with a 27-16 win over Wales. It is the first time Ireland have won an U20 Grand Slam having previously achieved the same feat at U21 level in 2007 when Keith Earls, Sean O’Brien, Cian Healy, Darren Cave and Ian Keatley were part of the national side.
Late tries from Colm Reilly and Tom Clarkson helped Ireland grind out the result that guaranteed their championship success. Captain Charlie Ryan, Scott Penny, Dylan Tierney-Martin who ran over for his fifth try of the campaign, midfield pair Liam Turner and Sean French were most impressive for the winners.
37 year old McNamara climbed through the ranks of underage and schools coaching before landing the U20s gig which he balances alongside his full-time role as an elite player development officer with Leinster Rugby.
A past pupil of St Josephs Secondary School in Tulla, Noel first immersed himself in rugby while completing a BSc in Physical Education and Maths at the University of Limerick. His final year at UL saw the Mills man take on a coaching position at Glenstal Abbey, from here he headed to Clongowes who would go on to contest four finals in his eight year tenure, the back to back senior cup success of 2010 and 2011 being the highlight.
Leinster then came calling for Noel who took charge of their U20 & Development side, as well as an assistant to the province’s ‘A’ team.
Having already built up a strong reputation within Irish circles, McNamara’s latest success is one that will earn him plenty of plaudits.
*Photograph: Irish Rugby