The Leinster U18 Clubs rounded out their preparations for the Interprovincial Championship with a welcome 28-24 victory over Blackrock College last weekend.

It was confirmation that the players are making the necessary improvements to build their confidence for their away date at Ulster on Saturday.

The most accurate form guide to this conundrum lies in the exploits of The Exiles.

Their IQ (Ireland Qualified) Talent Programme is headed up by former Leinster employee Wayne Mitchell with support from former Ireland centre Kevin Maggs and ex-Rugby League great Joe Lydon.

They made their mark on all four provinces by going unbeaten over the last month with what is a fine squad, even though they are not involved in this competition.

Leinster learned a lot about where they were in their development two weeks ago when The Exiles blew them away to lead 19-0 in the opening 40 minutes.

From there, the combination of the fitness and minute-by-minute improvement from Leinster saw them claw it back to 29-24 by the final whistle.

Captain Luke Thompson thrived in the trenches and the front row of Marcus Hannon, Barry Ryan and Charlie Ward were a handful.

The back division looks to have the basic ingredients of a handy unit, out-half Paddy McKenzie mixing the game up and centres Luis Faria and Karl Martin making for a complimentary pair in the midfield.

The Clubs have been something of a revelation in the last five years, the colossal work at grassroots level paying off handsomely.

It is worth noting that Tadhg Furlong, out of New Ross RFC, and Sean O’Brien, out of Tullow RFC, were two of just three Irishmen – the other was Conor Murray – to start in all three tests for the British & Irish Lions against New Zealand in the summer.

In the end, this is what mining the provincial counties and tapping into Dublin talent outside the schools system is all about, unearthing the next Ireland international.

Who knows where the next O’Brien or Furlong will come from? On recent evidence, there is a fair chance it is as likely to come from the Leinster Clubs as it is from the Schools.

Either way, Leinster Team Manager Louis Magee is more concerned with the here and now than ‘The Big Picture’ of the professional game.

For the moment. It is all about Ulster in Armagh on Saturday afternoon and Magee is well aware that they can’t fall into the same trap set by the Exiles.

“We need to do what we didn’t against The Exiles. We need to start well,” warned Team Manager Louis Magee.

“This is rep rugby. A lot of our guys are new to it. It is a new level of intensity and aggression. You can’t let teams get away from you early on.”

Leinster U18 Clubs

15. Diarmuid Egan (Tullamore RFC)
14. Matthew Yungman (Seapoint Rugby Club)
13. Luis Faria (Wanderers FC)
12. Karl Martin (Boyne RFC)
11. Josh O’Connor (Wexford Wanderers RFC)
10. Paddy McKenzie (Wicklow RFC)
9. Shane Murphy (Skerries RFC)
1. Marcus Hanan (Clane RFC)
2. Barry Ryan (Wexford Wanderers RFC)
3. Michael Power (Clontarf FC)
4. Fionn Gilbert (Clontarf FC)
5. Sam Porter (Wicklow RFC)
6. Brian Deeney (Wexford Wanderers RFC)
7. Luke Thompson (Wicklow RFC) CAPTAIN
8. David Murphy (Blackrock College RFC)


16. Sean O’Rourke (Athy RFC)
17. Mark Nicholson (Wicklow RFC)
18. Jordan Kelly (Enniscorthy RFC)
19. Tadgh Butler (Kilkenny RFC)
20. Robery Murphy (Gorey RFC)
21. Jack Ussher (Suttonians RFC)
22. Adam Nealon (DLSP FC)
23. Thomas McBrien (Skerries RFC)

Leinster U18 Clubs fixtures

Saturday, 9th September: Ulster v Leinster, Armagh RFC, KO 1pm
Saturday, 16th September: Connacht v Leinster, The Sportsground, KO 2.30pm
Saturday, 23rd September: Leinster v Munster, Donnybrook, KO 12pm