Posts Tagged ‘ Craig Gilroy ’

Guinness Series – Lessons Learned Late For Ireland

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With such an experimental selection of was always going to be a little hodge podge from Ireland against Georgia. The scoreboard reflects a comprehensive victory, and other results mean they now sit at 3rd in the world rankings, but this was by no means a demolition of Tier 2 opposition and that’s not a bad thing. Here’s why.
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European Rugby – “Not” The Heineken Cup

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“Four tries at the very least, and a 27 point margin to boot. No team could surely ever pull it off. Watch now, as Ronan O’Gara lines up the most important kick of his Munster career…”

Ok so, except that there’s one less pool (and four less teams as a result), let’s face it, this is the Heineken Cup. To Irish rugby fans in particular, the Heineken Cup even in name alone meant a lot more than just sponsorship. It’s a heritage, a legacy. It’s the reason we all looked forward to October. And the greatest Irish successes, be it winning finals or overcoming huge opponents in knockouts, all came at the peak of the competition’s popularity both with the public and financially. Is it any wonder there were calls for change from outside the country? Continue reading

Pro 12 – Kearney King As The Provinces Nab A Clean Sweep

Rob Kearney dots down the firs of his two tries last Saturday

Rob Kearney dots down the first of his two tries last Saturday

Some of it was simply beautiful, some of it down and dirty nitty gritty, and some of it we’ll just never know as Munster V Treviso was inexplicably not televised. But it’s a clean sweep for the provinces, after an opening round that saw just the one – Connacht – team nab any joy. Ulster and Munster didn’t make it easy over what should have been straight forward enough Italian opposition, but they got the job done. Connacht ground out a win at the death that was just completely unrecognisable from their last two seasons, and Leinster came back to something resembling the defending champions they are. A good weekend indeed. Continue reading

Rabo Round Up – Munster Crash Back Down To Earth

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Well, that was deflating. Rob Penney went for a raft of changes after Munster’s thrilling defeat of Toulouse but it’s possible he underestimated Glasgow a touch too much. Leinster and Connacht won’t want to remember this weekend anytime soon either, Ulster on the other hand bounced back immensely with a comprehensive, and injury riddled, victory over the latter. Continue reading

Heineken Cup – Munster Brilliance Keeps Irish Interest Alive

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Well, that was emotional. Be it the dream of another fairytale for Brian O’Driscoll, the anger and passion that followed Jared Payne’s red card, or the sheer and utter dissection Munster undertook, that was yet another Heineken Cup knock out round that simply had it all. It was yet another reason why the dissolving of this competition next year is little short of a travesty, though at least the new tournament looks set to more closely resemble this one than it could have. Continue reading

Heineken Cup – The French Connection Continues

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What is it with Irish teams versus the French? The English have Le Crunch, but with fixtures like Leinster VS Clermont in 2010 at the Aviva, again two years later in Bordeaux, Ulster VS Montpellier and Munster VS Perpignan this year, you’d have to say the Celtic and Gallic head to head has just created a huge buzz in recent years. Good news then that two of the three Irish provinces are of course taking on French opposition this weekend. Pure sporting nectar. Continue reading

Six Nations 2014 – Testing Times

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After the highs and lows of the November Internationals, Joe Schmidt must look to the Six Nations Championship as a chance to show what Ireland can really offer. The World Cup in 2015 is being held just across the pond and all eyes will be on England and their neighbouring nations. Schmidt has two Six Nations campaigns to get through before the World Cup becomes an issue to concentrate on. So what are Ireland’s chances in this year’s competition?

It wouldn’t be difficult to improve on last year’s dismal campaign, that had started so well. Beating the reigning champions at home in Cardiff was obviously the best start possible for the Irish. It wasn’t only the points that mattered but it was the way in which the team went about getting them. Yes, they were out on their feet for the last ten minutes or so and they allowed Wales back into that game just after half time, from a 3-30 score line, Ireland held on to win 22-30. It was the first half performance that included hunger, a controlled aggression and an ability to finish that left us feeling that maybe just maybe, another slam was on the cards. It must be said that Wales had suffered seven consecutive defeats (4 versus Australia) and were without their regular head coach Warren Gatland, previous to the Irish game. Still the Irish looked good. Ireland lost out at home to England in a kicking contest on a wet, windy day at home. England however were the favourites after taking care of the All Blacks, the previous November. For Ireland it went from bad to worse, losing to Scotland, drawing with France and for the first time, losing to Italy. Overall a dismal campaign that they will want to forget. Continue reading

Irish Rugby Review 2013

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The November series of 2012 led us into 2013 with a mixed bag of expectations, hope and a real feel of not knowing where Irish rugby was going. There was a sense that change was on the horizon, Declan Kidney was in charge of an ageing team but there were signs of talented youth on the periphery. South Africa were the first of the visiting nations and in a tight game they just did enough to keep Ireland from claiming a win. A scoreline of 16-12 suggested as much but it was a game that Ireland should have and could have won. The courageous performance of nearly winning was now becoming a bit too regular and the fans were becoming somewhat impatient, good performances no longer enough to keep them happy. The following week, an uncapped Ireland XV played host to Fiji in Thomond Park. It was a game that although one-sided, I as an Irish rugby fan, thoroughly enjoyed. Continue reading

Attack The Best Option For Kidney – Six Nations 2013

6nAnd we’re right back into the quagmire that is the Six Nations, a tournament that has been extremely unkind for the Irish team in recent years, especially against their first opposition this year, Wales. Seemingly the Welsh have taken over from the French as the bugbears of the Irish. Defeat in the last two campaigns, not to mention both matches featuring extremely questionable refereeing decisions, and of course they are the team that knocked Ireland out of a World Cup that looked set to be their best yet. The most common trend amongst pundits when talking about these three games has been to say that Wales have “figured us out” and so it is fitting then that Declan Kidney has gone with the “Lotto nunbers” he has in terms of cap selection. Continue reading

Lessons Learned, Will They Be Remembered? – Guinness Series Wrap Up

rugbyThere’s a peculiar feature of the Irish rugby team that infuriates and invigorates fan interest all at the same time. This feature is the one off. Argentina 2010, England 2011, Argentina 2012,these are the three most recent examples.

With the exclusion of big wins such as Australia last year you may have noticed that these “one offs” as I refer to them are not just big wins. No these incidents are when Ireland not only win against opposition they stood no chance against, but they also win in such a fashion that we all sit back and ask where the hell this performance has been until now. Before the game every journo, fan and pundit, myself included, predicted the usual bruiser this fixture turns out to be. But how wrong we were, as the Irish fifteen took to the pitch and what ensued was a clinical demolition of a team ranked one position above them, and one who only two weeks previously had put away Ireland’s nemesis of late, Wales, with relative ease and skill. Star of the day was of course Craig Gilroy with his eleventh minute try that set the tone and pace for the afternoon, but across the team there was performances produced that fly in the face of the last 12 months before this game. Gordon D’Arcy played at a level not seen from him since 09, Jamie Heaslip regained the Irish form that introduced him to the international stage way back when and then the likes of Sexton elevated his already great game into the neighbourhood of his best ever showing in green. On a tour where so many worried about the absence of the commanders and legends, this performance has many significances apart from ranking points. The need for a win first of all was crucial, but even more so the squad, and indeed the fans, needed assurance that there absolutely is a new guard to take over from the “Golden Generation”.

The only question that remains is whether or not these players will stand a chance of a place come the Six Nations. Will Zebo immediately make room for Kearney? Does the age old D’Arcy O’Driscoll pairing step straight back into the fold? Quite simply, if all of the injured return at the top of their form, there is no reason why they should not go straight back in. But what is crucial is that Kidney stays true to the argument for form over experience. If he does, then based on other results and performances we definitely have a fantastic shot at at least placing second in the Six Nations. It is frustrating that these performances from Ireland have rarely been followed up by one of a similar fashion. But pure logic above all else suggests that sooner rather than later, Ireland can find a run of form for at least the duration of the Six Nations, and finishing the November Series on a high such as this is a great way to start. It’s gonna be a long two months though.