Ireland Vs Scotland WC 2019

Ireland today started there 2019 World Cup campaign with a comprehensive 27-3 win over a Scotland side that will truly wonder did they even get off the bus before the game. Ireland went into this game after winning three of four warm up games only coming a cropper against England losing heavily 57-15. England today started their campaign with a comfortable 35-3 win over Tonga.

Back to the International Stadium in Yokohama where Ireland faced the supposed stiffest test of the group against a Scotland side looking to make it to a 2nd Semi Final after 1991. Ireland started both Andrew Conway and Jordan Larmour in the back three alongside Jacob Stockdale.

Both men started off being very shaky with Larmour off loading a ball in a tackle early on that was turned over by John Barclay and then Conway knocked on a catch but as the game wore on these two grew into the task at hand. Men like Conor Murray and his sparring partner at half back Jonathan Sexton did very well early on bringing the centre combination of Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose into play in attack and both of these men were strong in defence.

Ireland came into to today’s game with a few questions over the set piece and the non selection of Devin Toner but as has so often been the case under Joe Schmidt, Ireland had some cleaver moves lined up that saw Peter O Mahony go up for the first few line outs and then Iain Henderson took a few but they were shrewd that James Ryan only was called upon a few times as it looked likely that Scotland were set to target James Ryan as they may have felt he was the main target at line out time.

This failed to happen on so many occasions over the 80 minutes. That show’s that Ireland are being very cleaver in the video analysis room and making small tweaks to their game plans throughout the week. The performance this morning is far removed from the England game back in early August.

Some will say, it was cleaver thinking and planning in the team room and training pitch. All 23 played very well with Chris Farrell and Jack Conan being drafted in early on to replace Peter O Mahony and Bundee Aki who both failed Head Injury Assessments and will be touch and go whether they will be involved in match 2 against Japan next Saturday at 8.15am Irish time.

The Irish team will see a number of changes just to freshen things up and reintroduce a few men like Keith Earls, Rob Kearney and Robbie Henshaw if they are deemed fit to join in over the next few days. The show moves onto to face hosts Japan. The World Cup has started in strong winning fashion and they will hope to continue that winning form next week against Japan.

Here is the XV I would select to face Japan next week….

15 Andrew Conway

14 Keith Earls

13 Garry Ringrose

12 Chris Farrell

11 Jacob Stockdale

10 Jonathan Sexton

9 Conor Murray

8 Jack Conan

7 Josh Van Der Flier

6 CJ Stander

5 James Ryan

4 Iain Henderson

3 Tadgh Furlong

2 Rory Best

1 Cian Healy

16 Sean Cronin

17 Dave Kilcoyne

18 Andrew Porter

19 Tadgh Beirne

20 Rhys Ruddock

21 Luke Mc Grath

22 Jack Carty

23 Robbie Henshaw

2019 World Cup Match Day 1

Here is my XV for Ireland’s opening game of the 2019 World Cup against Scotland. I am taking into account the fact that a few of the Irish squad may not be available through injury.

15 Andrew Conway

14 Jordan Larmour

13 Gary Ringrose

12 Bundee Aki

11 Jacob Stockdale

10 Jonathan Sexton

9 Conor Murray

8 Jack Conan

7 Josh Van Der Flier

6 Peter O Mahony

5 James Ryan

4 Iain Henderson

3 Tadgh Furlong

2 Rory Best

1 Cian Healy

16 Sean Cronin

17 Dave Kilcoyne

18 Andrew Porter

19 Rhys Ruddock

20 Tadgh Beirne

21 Luke Mc Grath

22 Jack Carty

23 Chris Farrell

Here is the 23 I would select for the opening game of the 2019 World Cup for Ireland at 8.45am on Sunday morning.

5 In A Row Achieved

The mythical “5 in a row” has been achieved after Dublin beat Kerry in yesterday’s All Ireland Final replay with a 1-18 to 0-15 win at the second time of asking after a draw two weeks ago. Kilkenny and Kerry both tried to reach this magical milestone in the early 80’s for Kerry and in the late 2000’s for Kilkenny who were beaten by Liam Sheedy’s Tipperary in 2010.

What Dublin have managed to achieve is special and this group will now go down in the annals of GAA history as the first team to win the “5 in a row”.  This loss will sting in the Kingdom for a few months but when they look back on making the All Ireland Final they will realise how well the year went. It is tough to look back at this point but give it a few weeks and you will then realise how well Peter Keane and this young group did to reach the Final.

There is always next year although that won’t be any consolation at this stage, Kerry showed how well they are capable of competing but like most sides since Kerry last won the All Ireland in 2014 this Dublin team has proven to be a class apart from all contenders since 2015.

The 2nd half yesterday was very reminiscent of another team sponsored by AIG, Dublin were extremely clinical in everything they did after Eoin Murchan stroke in the opening minute of the 2nd half. The work done by Dublin in possession was a sight to behold and even though it upset the Kerry support it won’t matter to Dublin this morning as they are the All Ireland champions for a record 5th time in a row. Like Donegal in 2012 the way in which the win was achieved will only concern the beaten team.

Dublin will be thankful to key men like Stephen Cluxton, Jack Mc Caffrey, Ciaran Kilkenny, Con O Callaghan and Dean Rock all hit the right notes yesterday where in the drawn game they failed to make a telling mark in the contest. Yesterday was a different story as the much famed possession game was in full view in the 2nd half of the contest.

Jim Gavin has done very well to continue to work that was started by Pat Gilroy and Paul Caffrey. He and his management team have moulded a team with a huge work rate and appetite for success. The 5 in a row has been reached and now the clamour for the “surge for 6” will begin. Jim Gavin has said he will speak to the Dublin County Board in the near future about his own future and his management team will surely all speak to him about their own futures.

The “5 in a row” has been achieved, I am lucking to have live through a period where many sporting records have been broken, Ireland beating New Zealand, the grand slam being won and now the mythical 5 in a row has been achieved. Not since 1982 was this close to being done but now Dublin have managed it and will want to continue their impressive record into the 2020 season. For now though they can bask in the glow of their win yesterday.

For Kerry, it will take time to recover from this set back but with time they will be back to challenge again in 2020….

Life Changes 2019

It is amazing how quickly life changes, relationships and people change beyond all recognition when a big moment happens in life. You try extremely hard to return to your own self but your head and other factors stop you from doing things as you had hoped.

It has amazed me in particular how quick you lose touch with people. I have trusted more people in the last 5 years than I ever trusted in the previous 24 years. I have always been the guy to make others laugh and try to crack a joke.

Yes I seem to be Mr Serious and the look on my face seems to always suggest to people that I am in foul humour but that is so far removed from the truth in recent times. To some I may not have changed or moved on, to more I may seem like I haven’t a clue what to do with life or in life but as I have said so often before I will get there wherever there is in my own time. Again as my 29th birthday looms next week I am taking stock of where I am and where people expect you to be to keep up with the social norms of being in such and such a spot by 21, 30 and so on.

I have always done things stuff at a certain pace and in a certain way. I have given up listening to people who seem to be passing on pearls of wisdom because they feel it will benefit you in some way. I have heard so much “friendly” advice whether I wanted it or not in the last 2 and a bit years. Some decent advice but some utter crap from people who feel it is there right to fill in the void my Mam left.

I take advice from only a small number of people who have some idea of the situation I have been in since late 2016. It may also just be in my head but that is for me to figure out in time. I have spoken to so many and kept in touch with so many. I am at peace at last.

That plan of a few years ago to end my life at 30 has gone by the way side but I still think about what would happen if it did happen. Would I be missed, very doubtful from my perspective at this point but such is life.

I enjoy writing and recording but I will seriously have to think about what is really next on the agenda as I will turn 30 in 2020. I have time on my side and to use the skills already at my disposal and maybe add one or two more.

I still need time to process things in my own way and not just to suit others. I honestly feel like I make a choice and then I get advice helpful or not straight off the bat. Time to take full control of my life and drive on and not be sitting here in April 2020 writing a similar piece……

Ireland Vs England Warm Up Match 2

Ireland were dismantled by England in the 2nd World Cup warm up fixture for Joe Schmidt’s men after a 29-10 win over Italy in Dublin 2 weeks ago. This was meant to be the game where Ireland stepped up preparations after the tough weeks of pre season in Carton House and at the National Sport Campus in Abbotstown.

They certainly didn’t seem to get the memo as they were ruthlessly beaten by an England side that seems hell bent on winning the big prize in Japan in early November. Yes Ireland may be slightly behind England in match terms but they have done similar amounts of training over the past few months.

Being beaten yesterday was one thing but to be dismantled and not really come up with any real answers even when the game was lost will be the most alarming problem for the playing squad and the coaches as they return to base to review and try and pick up the pieces after such an abject showing.

From an England perspective I go back almost 4 years to when Eddie Jones took on the England job and his stated aim was to win the World Cup in Japan he also said he would use the first 2 years to work on forward play and getting his forwards comfortable on the ball that stated aim has been achieved along with his hope to do similar with the backs over the final 2 years of his 4 year deal. This whole approach was scoffed at in some quarters but does now seem to be coming to fruition just as the World Cup comes into sharp focus.

Jones has Manu Tuilagi playing well after so many periods on the sidelines his decision not to put him on the scrap heap is reaping the reward of patience. With other men like Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph also in good form at the minute in time things do seem to be rosy in the garden for all in the England camp. He got his wish of having Sam Underhill and Tom Curry on the field of play and this combination worked a treat and nullified the trio of O Mahony, Van Der Flier and Stander.

Only 4 members of the Ireland extended squad has yet to see game time and will see game time in two games vs Wales in Cardiff and Dublin. After the defeat yesterday this squad will be shaken and will be looking for reasons for the manner of the defeat, it wasn’t just a defeat it was like a lamb being led to slaughter and can’t be good for confidence or put down as “one of those things”.

We are less than a month out from the opening World Cup game vs Scotland and time is running out for this squad to build up the confidence that is surely waning. The positive attitude that Joe Schmidt usually can muster after a loss was missing in the aftermath yesterday and he will know it is down to his players and coaches to make sure his final few weeks as Ireland head coach don’t end in a whimper.

As I have said several times when writing about this squad time again to circle the wagons and go again but I will honestly say the manner of the loss yesterday has me worried for the first time in Joe Schmidt’s 6 year tenure. I hope I am proven wrong but the signs really don’t look good 4 weeks out.

I will select the side I feel will try and restore lost confidence

15 Andrew Conway

14 Keith Earls

13 Gary Ringrose

12 Chris Farrell

11 Will Addison

10 Ross Byrne

9 Conor Murray

8 Jack Conan

7 Josh Van Der Flier

6 Peter O Mahony

5 James Ryan

4 Tadgh Beirne

3 John Ryan

2 Niall Scannell

1 Dave Kilcoyne

16 Sean Cronin

17 Jack Mc Grath

18 Tadgh Furlong

19 Devin Toner

20 Rhys Ruddock

21 Kieran Marmion

22 Jonathan Sexton

23 Robbie Henshaw

Mam 3 Years On

Hard to believe I am writing my 3rd one of these but here goes. Mam passed away almost 3 years ago and since that day September 7th 2016 through to September 10th 2016 when the decision was made as a family to switch off the life support machine I haven’t stopped think about you on a daily basis.

Life has been strange, funny, agonising, terrifying and terrific in equal measure in the 3 years since you left the three of us to pick up the pieces. I hope the three of us have done a decent job in living together and done even better in not killing each other.

With each passing year Mam I can feel myself taking on your well known traits of talking straight and not taking a backward step from any situation, It has been said to me in recent months that I stand like you, make similar gestures, speak like you and so forth. I can listen to those around me speak about you and how much I remind you of them.

I am in a strong place mentally and you will be delighted to know I am working now, shock horror…. I am out and about and finally doing the thing you always wanted me to do, go out and live a decent life. I know you’d be thrilled to know I am working. It’s a real shame I didn’t do this while you were here on earth but you are looking after me still 3 years on.

It is still strange when I write these pieces as the years slowly move on as I say this will be your 3rd anniversary. I am doing very well, thankfully much better with each passing year and again I think about you every morning I wake up and you’re always in my thoughts every single day.

I hope that my new job would has shown you that I will make out fine in life as I know you were worried if anything ever happened to you that I would not make out too well but I hope that the last few months have proven to you that I am making out fine…

Your decision to be an organ donor still baffles me as I had no clue you wanted to be an organ donor but in equal measure your decision also proves to type of person you were, you always thought about everyone else before yourself and thanks to you 4 people were given the gift of life….

That’s enough from me, say hello to all up there for me and keep an eye on me even though quite a few people have taken on the “mammy” role and had a few words in my ear when they felt I needed a kick in the backside…. Rest assured I will always have a large group of people to give me that kick up the arse when needed….

Mam’s Anniversary Mass is on Saturday September 7th at 6pm in Tarbert….

Ireland World Cup Prep Match 1 vs Italy

Earlier today Ireland kicked off there playing preparations after 6 weeks of pre season training that took in numerous venues like Galway, Limerick and also the new training facility in Abbotstown where the IRFU, FAI and GAA have dedicated training facilities. Looking at those weeks Ireland have put in some hard graft in preparation for the upcoming World Cup.

Italy came to town with a much changed side from last season’s 6 Nations where Conor O Shea wanted a performance and for some of his charges to step up to the mark and put a hand up for team selection heading into the 2019 campaign.

For Joe Schmidt it was a opportunity to test out some new players like Jean Kleyn, Mike Haley and give guys like Dave Kearney a chance to stake a claim for selection for Japan 2019.  The game itself was scrappy from the 1st minute to 80 minutes and will more than likely be just remembered for the injury to Joey Carbery that saw him leave the field after 49 minutes to be replaced by Jack Carty. Here’s hoping the news of Carbery’s injury will be positive when Ireland gather again in the middle of next week.

Although the performance won’t have any sides quaking it still threw up a number of decent performances from Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell and Joey Carbery before injury forced him to depart to let Jack Carty take his chance for the final 30 minutes. Carty for his part played well in the final 30 minutes even if the game dropped in intensity in that final quarter, he still found touch with two wonderful kicks to push Ireland up field.

Other stand out performers were Tadgh Beirne, Kieran Marmion and Devin Toner who rolled his ankle but should be in contention to face England in two weeks time. The work will need to be put in to see can the level of performance improve before they face England in match two of four.

Ireland will know the performance levels will need to get much better and the supposed heavy hitters will need to hit the ground running when they get back in harness whether that is against England or the two fixtures against Wales home and away. It’s two weeks until England in Twickenham and let’s hope the news on Joey Carbery will be positive later in the week.

Here is the side I would select to face England :

15 Will Addison

14 Keith Earls

13 Chris Farrell

12 Robbie Henshaw

11 Andrew Conway

10 Ross Byrne

9 John Cooney

8 Jack Conan

7 Peter O Mahony

6 CJ Stander

5 Iain Henderson

4 Tadgh Beirne

3 John Ryan

2 Sean Cronin

1 Dave Kilcoyne

16 Niall Scannell

17 Jack Mc Grath

18 Andrew Porter

19 Devin Toner

20 Jordi Murphy

21 Kieran Marmion

22 Jonathan Sexton

23 Jacob Stockdale

World Cup Warm Up Vs Italy 2019

15 Andrew Conway

14 Jordan Larmour

13 Chris Farrell

12 Robbie Henshaw

11 Will Addison

10 Joey Carbery

9 John Cooney

8 Jack Conan

7 Tommy O Donnell

6 Tadgh Beirne

5 Iain Henderson

4 Jean Kleyn

3 John Ryan

2 Rob Herring

1 Dave Kilcoyne

16 Sean Cronin

17 Cian Healy

18 Finlay Bealham

19 Devin Toner

20 CJ Stander

21 Luke Mc Grath

22 Ross Byrne

23 Mike Haley

Here is the team I would select to take Italy on Saturday at 2pm in the opening game of the World Cup warm up fixtures….. Ireland will then face England home and away while taking on Wales in Dublin on September 7th.

Adare Manor 2026 Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup will take place in Adare Manor in 2026 after it was confirmed as the host venue for the 2026 Biennial competition that will be played in Rome and New York in 2022 and 2024 before landing in Limerick in 7 years time.

It was confirmed today that the Irish Open’s future is secure until 2026 which is good news coming off the back of a successful is staging in Lahinch 3 weeks ago. The good news just keeps coming for the golf fraternity after Shane Lowry’s win in Portrush last week.

The hosting of the Ryder Cup will be the culmination of years of work for JP Mc Manus and all the staff that work in Adare. It was his stated desire when he purchased Adare Manor that he would bring the Ryder Cup to Limerick and now the dream will be realised in 2026.

While the confirmation of the news will be welcomed, it is now that the tough work will begin to put the correct infrastructure in place, roads, public transport etc and also making sure that the Manor will be in good shape.

With the backing of the Irish Government, JP and his team in Adare will have 7 years to put all the right infrastructure in place to make this Ryder Cup one to remember like the K Club in 2006.

It will be the biggest world sporting event staged in Ireland like the Paralympics that was held in 2003. The work that has gone in to get this bid off the ground has to be commended. The Manor saw off competition from the Belfrey to name one course that looked to host the Ryder Cup.

As I say, the hard work will commence right away because 7 years seems a long way off but in sporting terms it is only a short period. Here’s hoping that everyone gets in behind this and all the required support will be put in place to help all in the Manor to chance to show Limerick off and also the West of Ireland.

It will be a huge boost to the tourist sector but this news will also be a boost to the golf clubs all over Ireland like Shane Lowry winning last weekend, it will mean people will dust off the clubs and go out and play a round in their local club.

2026 is 7 years away but this is terrific for the sporting scene in Ireland. Well done to JP and all his team in Adare. Roll on 2026…..

World Cup 2021 Qualifier Route

The IRFU have today given a much needed boost to the women’s game after they revealed a plan to try and help Ireland gain qualification for the 2021 World Cup. They will have two Internationals in November 2019. They will have a National camp in August. This will hopefully set them up for the games that will come in November and the 6 Nations of 2020.

It is good to see the IRFU put this together and Adam Griggs and his coaching staff can now put a plan together as they will have much needed time together in August and again in November. This plan is 2 years in the making after a poor showing at a home World Cup alongside some poor displays in the last two 6 Nations under Adam Griggs.

Yes there has been a large turn over in players in the past few seasons with some really experienced players making way for less experienced players but you still have a core group of leaders like Claire Molloy, Lindsey Peat and Ciara Griffin. These are the players that will hopefully lead Ireland to the 2021 World Cup.

The games are against Italy and Scotland and an as yet unnamed opponent. Ireland will know that the performances of the past few months just won’t cut it at the very top level. They will have 9 training camps before the serious stuff of qualifying will kick off.

The hope with this plan is that it won’t just be a flash in the pan situation where these games have only been put into the schedule for this season. There has to be room for this set up to continue beyond the qualifying campaign of late 2020. The IRFU have committed to this plan and the appetite is there from the players to try and get to the 2021 World Cup.

With the positive impact that we have seen from the recent Women’s World Cup in France, let’s hope that the appetite for women’s sport will continue into the future. I am not trying to compare like for like because rugby still has some distance to go to gain the same recognition as Football.

The coverage of women’s sport is beginning to gain real momentum and will only get stronger as the years roll on. I have been a strong supporter of the Irish women’s rugby side since 2013 and I can now count a number of that grand slam winning side as friends. Let’s hope that this 13 month plan for World Cup qualification is a permanent fixture. Roll on the camp in August and the pair of games set for November….