23/03/02.Immediately after the game Irish coach Eddie O’Sullivan, Man of the Match John Kelly and lock Gary Longwell gave their reaction to their side’s win over the Italians
Man of the Match, John Kelly, shocked and delighted, described this as a “dream day”. He was very happy with the result and praised Ronan O’Gara and Peter Clohessy for setting up his tries. “It was down to good teamwork and thanks to both Ronan and Peter’s excellent passing, I was able to finish off what were great patterns in play”. Referring to his recent step up from the A-side, and his inclusion in the squad for this game, an elated Kelly noted “the sense of unreal” he was feeling. Recognising his defining role in executing such a victory, Kelly desribed this day as “a dream come true. I was in shock on Tuesday when I heard I was playing and I’m still in shock. I was nervous all week. But this is a great feeling. I remember the first try, Ronan threw a great pass and I saw the gap and just went for it. I was hoping that no-one was coming.” Delight and pleasure are the two words Eddie O’Sullivan used to describe his reaction to Irelands victory over Italy. Fearing that Italy were going to be a difficult side to overcome, O’Sullivan said he was “very happy and very pleased with the result”. Despite the pressure the Italians put on the Irish scrum, O’Sullivan maintained that Ireland played well. O’Sullivan also made reference to the obvious improvements in this Irish side, and commended both John Kelly and Denis Hickie for their superb try scoring endeavours. “These players are like a fine wine, they get better with maturity and each victory is another concrete addition to the Irish aimbition of winning this competion outright”.
Speaking of the upcoming game against France in Paris, O’Sullivan urged caution. Referring to the obvious areas needing attention such as the srcum and the lineout, he noted that it will be a difficult match for Ireland. Yet he was quick to empahsise that the team are sure to rise to the occasion, and given that they met the target of three home wins, O’Sullivan remains positive as ever about the very definitive possibilty of an Irish win in Paris.
After another excellent performance, Ulsterman Gary Longwell agreed that the Italian side were very physical, “they made it very difficult for us and were happy to give away penalties rather than allow us through to score tries. But we had spoken about this and knew what to expect. I think the good thing is that we kept our discipline and kept our heads.”