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Posts Tagged ‘ Ian Madigan ’

European Rugby – Snowball’s Chance In Hell?

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To say that Leinster will define their season this Sunday is somewhat of an understatement. Pro 12 involvement on the line, consecutive defeats worse than anything in the last decade and a general air of division amongst their fans; this trip to Toulon didn’t need added importance but it has it now.

Matt O’Connor fielded 12 changes in the Pro 12 in an effort to distribute game time ahead of playing a team absolutely spoiled for choice. It wasn’t entirely illogical but what it means is that Leinster are essentially out of the league and this European Cup is all that remains to sign off in some style on a mixed 14/15 season. The obvious backlash here is that they’ve put more pressure on a game that really didn’t need anymore but for the sake of optimism let’s look at it from another angle – Leinster are head first throwing all of their weight into this weekend. Continue reading

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European Rugby – And Then There Was One

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Dual blogged on I’m Talkin’ Here

Can anyone else remember the last time only one Irish team managed to make the European knockouts? Eleven years ago, back when Ulster still couldn’t find a way out and Leinster lost out to Stade Francais and Munster were the sole hope in the Quarter Finals. Is it a reflection on the Irish club game that only Leinster have progressed or is it the new format living up to its name and providing a greater challenge to the Celts? Hard to say in this inaugural year but the fact is there to see that only one province from the back to back Six Nations champion country is present this weekend. Pity.
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Guinness Series – Who Will Tame The Wallabies?

Robbie-Henshaw

Dual blogged on I’m Talkin’ Here

Assuming there isn’t a Joe Schmidt curveball to come, the starting XV for this Saturday against Australia will come from the best of the Boks and Georgia fixtures. At a glance you would say that the starting team from the South Africa fixture will get to go out and prove their mettle once more, excluding Jared Payne of course who is ruled out with the sprain suffered in that game. That said though, some hands went up against Georgia and you couldn’t put it past Schmidt to feel those few deserve their chance, on the bench at the very least.

In the front row, Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Mike Ross will surely be nailed on starters for Saturday. You could argue Cronin if Best is good to go, but Schmidt is not going to put in someone on merit so unless Best has a training week for the ages Cronin has got to start. Mike Ross has had a tough old run of it, playing to 74 minutes against the Boks, but having had so little game time beforehand it is still likely he will get the nod. In the second row you cannot look past Devin Toner and Paul O’Connell, especially with the commanding presence the former brought to the pitch when he was introduced last weekend. Dave Foley has likely played himself onto the bench however. The back row throws up a few more debates, especially when they will be up against the like of Matt Hooper, though admittedly the Aussie back rows had little or no fun against France last week. For Ireland, Dominic Ryan has likely played himself onto the bench, marginally ahead of Tommy O’Donnell though the latter did nothing wrong against Georgia or South Africa. The two are just simply fairly level and Ryan would benefit more from the experience. Expect no less than Jamie Heaslip and Peter O’Mahony to fill out the rest of the pack. Continue reading

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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Guinness Series – Too Soon To Be Cocky?

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Yes we beat the second best team in the world, after they just beat the best. Yes the hype and hysteria was completely justified. Yes – all talk of winning the World Cup has ramped up massively. Maybe that isn’t quite so justified. Either way questions of whether or not Georgia can cause an upset here should be gone now. Without wanting to sound too cocky, the question is how much Ireland will win by.

Seven years ago Ireland nearly suffered a fate worse than death – elimination from the World Cup at the hands of Georgia. They were only squaring off in the second game of the pool, but suffice to say had Ireland fallen in that game none of the residual hope would have spilled into the games against France and Argentina. But the times have changed, as last week showed, and the chances of limping home by four points this time are nil. Continue reading

Guinness Series – Ireland Trash South Africa

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Well, who stopped believing? It’s genuinely hard to not exaggerate, that was an incredible performance. Over the years Ireland have provided many threats at their abilities but few solid shows. Australia in 2011 was followed by that Wales game, earlier that year we hammered England and never again showed the same level of attack. But now Ireland have just beaten the second highest ranked team in the world, and more importantly the best team they will face between now and the world cup. Let’s go.
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European Rugby – Time To Separate The Men From The Boys

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Round two of the European Rugby Champion’s Cup and already we’re looking at a whole new playing field. Ulster VS Toulon, Munster VS Saracens, Leinster VS Castres and Connacht VS Exeter. Certainly far more fitting and mouth watering challenges for the provinces, and though it may be true that you don’t lose any competition in the first round, the second is where those short fallings and mistakes can be made that haunt you for the rest of the season.

Munster VS Saracens this evening is a fixture that has never failed to thrill. Through the year these sides have fought some of the closest matches in rugby history and one could argue that Saracens have the closest thing to a Munster-esque legacy in England, their embrace of brand establishment and of course they have thrown up some results to justify all of it. Kelly Brown, Billy Vunipola, David Strettle, Owen Farrell, Brad Barrit. It doesn’t need to be emphasised what pedigree Munster find themselves up against this evening. Continue reading

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