That Sporting Weekend
What a weekend that was, wall to wall sport !! Unfortunately results didn’t go as planned and a weekend that promised so much delivered few memorable moments although the Ireland Women 7s did secure a spot on next year’s World Series they were beaten by Russia in the Cup Semi Final yesterday and with that defeat went there chance to compete in Rio in August. Instead of thinking what might have been , they tore into Kazakhstan and beat them 17-5 to make sure of 3rd spot. For that they must be commended.
They will be bitterly disappointed with the 19-10 defeat in that Semi Final though and will need to make some improvements if they are to make more strides forward in the next 12 months. The future of 7s in bright and this group can lead the charge.
Looking to France , It was a case of what might have been in the aftermath of the 2-1 defeat to France. Pride and honour has been restored to the green shirt in the last week or so and we can at least take so comfort from that and also players like Hendrick , Brady , Mc Clean , Duffy and Coleman came of age , will Seamus Coleman hold the armband beyond the Euro’s one wonders , I have a sneaking suspicion he may just do that. All we ever ask in this country of our sports hero’s is an honest effort and determination in what they do and the last few weeks has proven that theory right and for that this author is very happy.
I was very much in the camp we would struggle in getting anything from Italy and progress to the last 16 but let me tell you I was more than happy to eat humble pie when they secured a 1-0 win and a passage to take on France yesterday. A terrific start to yesterday’s game with Mr Rizzoli giving a penalty after 2 minutes.
Shane Long going over in the box just as he was about to pull the trigger. As Ireland showed vs Italy when they do hold onto the ball they look like a side will create chances. Daryl Murphy and Shane Long look like a pairing that will create chances when the ball is played to them like Quinn and Keane did for many year’s.
Yesterday I think we got a glimpse of a future Ireland 11 and it looked good a composed. Whether the likes of Hoolahan , Whelan , Keane and O Shea will be around again remains to be seen but over the last two game others answered the call to arms. Roll on qualification for Russia in 2018.
To the Under 20s who faced old enemy England in Manchester on Saturday and were beaten by a far more physical England side. This team wasn’t expected this far after some mixed performances in the Six Nations although they defeated England away from home , they beat both Scotland and Italy in Donnybrook to finish the campaign on a high.
Players like James Ryan , Andrew Porter , Jacob Stockdale , Bill Johnson , Max Deegan and Stephen Kerins have bright futures ahead , plenty to look forward to in the next few years. Full credit to Nigel Carolan who looked after the Connacht academy before taking on the 20s job has done a great job and has a bright coaching future.
The Senior rugby team last there series in South Africa 2-1 and will have a few regrets coming home from the tour along with some with questions surrounding belief given that they pounded the South African line in the final 5 minutes but didn’t manage to break the door down in the 3rd test. A lack of scoring in the 2nd half of games has also begun to become an issue. 3 points on Saturday , No score in the second test and only 6points in the 1st test , that an issue that needs urgent attention alongside the mental side of the game , I feel we still after 3 years under Joe Schmidt we still a mentally fragile at crucial stages of games and this needs to change , that said a test win in South Africa can’t be sneezed at given it took New Zealand over 50 years to win a Test series there until 1996.
Finally, Supporters need to be thanked for all they do to source tickets for games in any code because again in recent times they have been commended for the way they followed Ireland in France.
Irish fans do likewise in all sports not just football or rugby and that must be remembered as well. We must also remember we aren’t the only ones who follow our teams with passion and never ending belief , other nations do likewise. It’s great to read about it and see all the footage and it gives all back home and abroad a real lift to see it but never forget we aren’t the only ones and we don’t own the patent on following teams.
Cian Mc Gibney