Wales made a losing start to to the Five Nations under 18 Festival being hosted this week in Italy with defeat by an accomplished Ireland side at Parma .
In warm conditions at the Stadio XXV Aprile, Ireland won the try count convincingly by 3-0, reflecting their overall superiority in most areas of play and not least the forward battle where the Irish front row impressed.
Wales showed their forward strength at the beginning of the second half but elsewhere, save for several forays down the touchlines the Welsh backs were held in check by a well organised Irish defence.
"Ireland deserved their victory after winning the try count 3-0" said Wales coach Simon King. He added : "The difference was that they were accurate when they had chances. We struggled to put shape in our game.
"The pity is that we had played well prior to this tournament. We now have six days rest before we play Scotland on Saturday" stated the Wales coach.
It was Ireland who garnered first points with a drop goal by outside half Quinn-McDonagh after the Irish side had put pressure on their Welsh opponents.
Wales indiscipline allowed Ireland to gain a strong field position through a couple of touch finders from Quinn-Donagh. From the enduing line-out number 8 Jordi Murphy burst20away from the tail of the line-out before handing on to Macken who sent Andrew Conway racing in for a fine try and an 8-0 lead.
Wales came into the game with a penalty from full back Tom Prydie but from set piece Macken again showed his handling skills to put Conway in for his second try, this time converted by right wing Tiarnan O'Halloran.
Ireland looked set to increase their lead when blindside flanker Stephen Leckey made a charge to the line only to be called back for crossing. In the event it was Wales who grabbed the next points with a second penalty by Prydie and just before half time the full back slotted his third goal to leave Wales trailing 15-9 at the break.
Another penalty by Prydie at the beginning of the second half narrowed Ireland's lead to just three points, giving Wales the confidence to attack. Ireland's defence, however, withstood a steady assault on the line, but at the expense of a fourth penalty goal from Prydie.
Having survived this siege, Ireland returned to attacking play and were rewarded when Alex Kelly slipped through a gap in midfield for a fine set-piece try converted by O'Halloran.
A fifth penalty by Prydie brought Wales with a converted try of Ireland's score and it seemed that the Welsh youngsters might just pull off a draw with several chances at the end.
First Dale Ford was presented with an interception chance but the centre just failed to hold the ball and then when full back Prydie made a determined run down the right touchline his pass to the supporting runners just failed to find target, leaving Wales left musing what might have been
Scorers Ireland Tries Conway (2), Kelly Con O'Halloran (2) Drop Goal Quinn-Donagh Wales Pens Prydie (5)
Ireland: A Conway (Blackrock College); T O'Halloran (Cistercian College Roscrea), B Macken (Blackrock College), A Kelly (St Michael's College), C Colvin (Royal School, Armagh); G Quinn-McDonagh (Crescent Comprehensive), P du Toit (King's Hospital); J Tracy (Newbridge College), N Annett (Methodist College - capt), M Moore (Castleknock College), D O'Mahony (Pres Cork), A Spring (Sligo Grammar), S Leckey (Methodist College), D Doyle (Gonzaga College), J Murphy (Blackrock College). Subs used Shane Buckley (Rockwell College), Paddy Marks (Royal Belfast Academical Insitutute), Niall Scannell (PBC Cork)
Wales: Tom Prydie (Porthcawl Comp); Luke Williams (Ysgol Gyfun Penweddig), Dale Ford (Strade), Jack Gadd (Filton College), Eli Walker (Swansea College); , Matthew Morgan (Bridgend College), Adam Jones (Filton College); Rowan Jenkins (CSG), Leaun Davies (Treorchy), Rhodri Jones (Llandovery College), Lloyd Peers (Pencoed College) (capt), McCauley Cook (Bridgend College), Edward Siggery (QEHS), Tom Young (Rhydywaun), David Barry (Neath College) Subs used Nicky Williams (Filton College), George North (Llandovery College), Lewis Robling (Ysgol Gyfum Gwynliyw), Ben Thomas (Bryntirion CS),, Tom Crandon (Cross Keys College), Gareth Harvey (Pencoed College), Lewis Smout (Coleg Powys)
Referee: J van der Marve, Scotland.