World Cup: Irelandwatch Episode 4

Geordan Murphy tweeted on wednesday night that ‘the obese lady was opening up her vocal chords’.  It didn’t take a genius to read between the lines.  Felix Jones had been given the nod for the France game, Murphy was left to tog out against Connacht, putting Jones in the box seat for the World Cup.  Geordan is of the age profile where, if he doesn’t make the World Cup, he is likely to retire.  Last night’s try-scoring  performance is likely to be his last in green.

The same, only more so, goes for John Hayes.  It looks as if the Irish management are willing Buckley to be the player they believe he can be, and are giving him every chance to show something – anything! – to get him on the plane.  Hayes, unlike Murphy, is incapable of the sort of eye-catching performance that would demand he be picked – indeed the scrum was dire last night, and it’s increasingly a case of ‘who is the least terrible’.  In one sense though you can sympathise with Deccie – Hayes can’t produce any more, at least Mushy might.  If the Bruff man doesn’t make the cut, the game against Connacht is likely to be his last ever game of senior rugby.  In many ways it’s a fittingly fanfare-free way for him to bow out. 

Wednesday’s team sheets gave us – at last – an insight into Deccie’s thinking.  Indeed, it all but named his squad.  For the likes of Jennings, McLaughlin and Fergus McFadden, it effectively shut the door on their World Cup chances (injuries notwithstanding).  Donncha Ryan appears all but certain to go.  It’s a remarkable call – Ryan has just a single Heineken Cup start to his name, and it was one in which he singularly failed to impress (he was immediately dropped for Mick O’Driscoll).  Similarly, Leamy is nailed on in spite of a wild, indisciplined season just gone.  Meanwhile, Kevin McLaughlin has barely been given a chance to stake a claim.  It looked curtains for Jennings too, but Wally’s injury might give him an unexpected chance to impress.  It is probably too late for him, but let’s hope he can at least give Deccie something to think about.

At scrum half, Conor Murray was rewarded for his confident French cameo with 30 minutes against Connacht and is now odds against – Deccie has perhaps decided Boss’s experience is what is required, in spite of never fancying him before. Curious.

France beckons tomorrow, and this time there can be few positives if Ireland lose.  After two defeats, Ireland need to beat a mixed France team (they’re never the same without Dusatoir) to build confidence.  Oh, and some meet and greet with the opposition’s whitewash wouldn’t go amiss either.

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5 Comments

  1. I wouldn't be so sure that Ryan is inked in ahead of McCarthy!

  2. I get the impression the 5.5 spot is still very much up for grabs. Perhaps they are thinking KMac got more audition time during the Heineken cup and are trying to see if Ryan or McCarthy can better those performances.It looks like whichever one of those three gets on the plane, they can expect to be on the bench for matchday. Its a pretty clear indication that Ireland intend to up the pace and go for a more open field game for the last 20 of their games, with probably Ferris, Flannery, Reddan and the flanker cum lock coming off the bench. This would also explain why they have persevered to the level they have with Buckley. Last night was worrying. I'm not a Munsterman, but have been a big advocate of taking Hayes and Buckley both. Hayes to let Ross rest in smaller games, Buckley to be an impact sub. The selectors will be talking about the props for a quite a while you'd imagine.Adh mor to Jennings and Jones tomorrow. Decent performances and they both should go. I suspect Kidney is swaying towards taking only two scrum halves, thereby allowing him to take Jones as an extra outside back-makes sense on the basis of Kearney's niggles.Defence has been good so far, though I am not so sure of the holding people up tactic. It definately works well around midfield, but is a bit risky close to your own line. Not to worry, tomorrow will (hopefully) be more about the attack!

  3. Never thought that I could be this depressed going into the World Cup! There are very positives for Ireland at the moment, we have played our strongest side and produced a terrible performance. Where do we go from here? First thing is to drop Tomas O'Leary. We keep hearing about his physical nature and how he is like an extra back row etc etc but he CAN NOT pass which is a scrumhalfs main attribute. With TOL starting any big game in the World Cup I can't see us making an impression. Imagine if Quade Cooper, JOC, Beale et al got that kind of possession from a TOL box kick that led to the French drop goal? The second big concern for me is the lack of leadership. At no point when things weren't going well did any of the leaders on the pitch (BOD, POC, Heaslip, Best) make a decision and say "Guys throwing the ball wide at every play isnt going anywhere lets stick the ball in their 22 and put some pressure on". The Irish players seem incapable of thinking on their feet, they seem to have one gameplan and stick to it rigidly. Contrast this with how they perform for their provinces, is it that big a step up from Heino Cup knockout stages to international rugby? For me the answer is no in fact, a bit off topic, I would fancy Leinster and Toulouse as better World Cup bets than any of the Northern Hemisphere sides. Something seems to be seriously wrong with our game granted we arent at 2007 yet but we are on a seriously slippery slope I fear. Kidney is a poor selector and God only knows what happens in Alan Gaffneys training sessions. The majority of these backs ripped quality sides apart for fun in the Heineken but are so toothless with Ireland it is frankly beyond belief. The silver lining to Irelands ever growing cloud is the set piece. The scrum has to be regarded as Irelands only constant success of the series. Ross and Healy really have given us a stable attacking platform and we no longer dread Irish scrums as we did a year ago. The lineout looks to be improving. Granted it isnt at 2009 levels but is better than last years autumn internationals. Stephen Ferris and Jerry Flannery both added ball carrying impact from the bench. Their styles are perfect for coming on and changing the tempo of a big game for Ireland. Andy Trimble looks in great form and is the only back to have impressed in the series. ROG and Sexton both seem to be striking the ball well off the ground and I think Sexton starting and ROG coming off the bench is Irelands best combination. Both of their decision making in open play however hasnt been great. That said 95% of Sextons rugby has been with TOL inside so perhaps it would be unfair to judge.What can we expect against England? I would be happy with any win, no injuries and TOL being no where near Lansdowne Road.

  4. JSRF – that the point isn't it – and you talk about a gameplan, I certainly didn't see one. France picked us off at their leisure as they copped after 20 minutes we were just throwing it around.Very worrying. Earls was a disaster (taking Sexton's ball, the brainless off the ball tackle and that back of the hand pass over BOD's head), the centres looked toothless, and O'Leary is just frazzled. Its not even fair to him to ask him to play himself into form against France.The lack of leadership from Best and the locks was a huge worry. On the bright side, Flannery should start, Ferris looked in excellent nick when he came in, and POC and BOD are still feeling their way back in. Regarding injuries, leaving Healy on I didn't get – he is a key man and there is 3 weeks to go. I was almost in tears seeing Jones go off – the lad has no luck. Deccie seems optimistic, but even if its not as bad as you fear, you surely can't bring him if he is out for 3 weeks. That fat lady singing at Welford Road for Geordy might be shutting up, but I think McFadden is more likely to step in….

  5. The Bastearauds did it again. Don't let them get you down JSRF! I must say I saw this coming. I was happily expecting an Irish win and then it came. The exact moment was during the pre-match discusion and we had an interview with BO'D. Could not believe my ears when I heard "and when you get to a semi-final all bets are off." I proceeded to watch through my fingers as Conor O'Shea compounded the jynx by saying words to the effect of: they're not going to talk about it – he just had! You knew,… you just knew the day would end with George Hook muttering the classic: "we are in deep, deep doo doo" and Drico would come out and say "no-one is hitting the panic button here," though his eyes betrayed him. I swear behind them you could see a guy pulling levers and pushing buttons as sirens blared in his head. Joking aside, I was genuinely astonished to hear the captain go so far off message as he had done pre-match.Its becoming pretty clear we over egged the victory over England and I would say yes JSRF it is now more of a step up from province to international, but ("back up the truck") I would avoid going too much the other way just yet. You can see improvements are being made in the sectors which the team work on from week to week and it still remains pre-season. Initially defence impressed, this week saw (some) better attacking plus the lineout and scrum were very good platforms, though little came from them(except a self-inflicted French try). More should come from them another day.I still think there are fixable improvements needing to be made in supporting runners (think of Kearney being isolated in Bordeaux and O'Brien similarly yesterday). It is a bit unfair to give SOB the ball and just say away you go there fella, even though he is pretty useful at making something of it. However the single biggest thing we need is the mindset, namely to hang in as much as possible when you are on the ropes; and when you get on top to be ruthless in the number of points you can extract. If we think we are going to maintain a frenzied intensity at this level where the other team never get into the game for 80 minutes we are being very naive. Wales have demonstrated the necessary mental togetherness in successive weeks – being outplayed in first half, but hanging in and then making hay when given a whiff. Hopefully this will improve for us after the final 30 selection is official.On a similar note our restart remains poor. If you are to stop the momentum of the opposition, then being able to get hands on these makes life a bit easier. I am trying to look at the brighter side of things here, though I admit in the rubble of this defeat it is not an easy task!

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