Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan expressed himself happy with the overall performance from his side in their record 61-6 win over Italy in Thomond Park on Saturday.
Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan expressed himself happy with the overall performance from his side in their record 61-6 win over Italy in Thomond Park on Saturday. His main concern was the inuries sustained by John Kelly and Victor Costello, Kelly in particular looking in some distress when he was stretchered off after suffering injury in a nasty lunge while he lay prone on the ground. The good news is that Kelly hopes to be back doing some level of training in about three weeks while Costello dislocated a finger and has been named in the squad for the Scotland game.
Elsewhere there was the usual solid performance from Gary Longwell while Leo Cullen, helped by Shane Byrne’s accurate throws, dominated the line-out and Marcus Horan marked his return with a solid all round game.
The opening 30 minutes were fairly dire with even the normally vocal Thomond crowd finding it difficult to get any way enthusiastic. They did show their appreciation when the Irish defence passed their first serious examination, repelling a sustained bout of Italian pressure on the half hour. That period was identified by Eddie O’Sullivan as the turning point in the game, but in injury time when it seems odds on that the Irish would retire with a three point lead, they hit the Italians with a two try salvo in the space of three minutes.
John Kelly scored the first and Denis Hickie, the second, both of which were converted by David Humphreys, to give the home side what most observers agreed was a flattering seventeen point lead (23-6).
Ireland went further ahead within a minute of the restart when Shane Byrne was credited with a try from a rolling maul. Two minutes later the game was up for the Italians when they were punished for failing to defend what most Under 11 sides would handle as a matter of course. Humphreys chipped into the empty left hand pocket and Hickie needed to do no more than pick up and stroll over almost totally unnoticed by the Italian defenders.
From turnover ball in the Ireland 22, Kelly broke out and hared off up the right touchline. He cut inside cleverly and when halted had the irresistible Hickie steaming up in support. Once Hickie hit the after burners, there could be only one result and Humphreys stepped up once again to knock over the conversion.
His fourth try should have come a little earlier than it did, Humphreys guilty of going-it alone when all he had to do was link with the unmarked winger but at this stage it was a case of shooting fish in a barrel.
With less than ten minutes of normal time remaining O’Sullivan emptied his bench and one of those newcomers, Geordan Murphy demonstrated his sublime skill in setting up Girvan Dempsey’s injury time try. Minutes later Humphreys compounded the Italian’s misery when he scored the game’s eight try.