Look, I know people were disappointed but in fairness they must realise that whatever they felt, it’s nothing to what the players feel. No player likes to lose, simple as that
For John Hayes, Paris in the Spring wasn’t perhaps as memorable as he might have liked, nevertheless, as far as the big man from Cappamore is concerned it was far from being a total disaster.
Look, I know people were disappointed but in fairness they must realise that whatever they felt, it’s nothing to what the players feel. No player likes to lose, simple as that and against the French I thought we gave a good account of ourselves.
Ok, I know in the end, the scoreline certainly did us no favours but I think overall it was a closer game than that. We had a good first half and put them under a lot of pressure. Then we scored an early second half try to get within a point and in the end were hammering away at their line.
Now, after Axel scored that try they hit us with two very quick, that’s the French for you. They can do that, create tries from almost nothing. And they can do it against the best sides.
But we never dropped our heads. We got back up there and scored a good try and like, with a little more luck, might have scored another, but never mind that. I think the important thing was that we didn’t throw in the towel. We kept battling away.
And the stats bear out the Hayes claim. In the second half, Ireland spent almost 28 minutes in the opposition half, the difficulty of being that they wouldn’t score?
Well that’s not right, we just couldn’t score enough. We got two, they got three tries. They defended their line really well, they have a great defence, they fight for every inch.
And Hayes experienced that refusal to cede an inch first hand. He recalls the incident with a laugh.
Yeh that’s right. They knocked me right back, sat me on me arse. My own fault really. I went in much too high and paid the price. But that just shows their attitude. They were giving nothing away.
Make no mistake they’re a good side. They play with pace and they can mix it, backs and forwards. There were a lot of tired bodies in our dressing room afterwards, the boys had given their all. But I’ll tell’ye this, they would have been feeling it as well
The general consensus in the media in the days after the game was that the pack had acquitted themselves well but Hayes wouldn’t even dream of criticising his backline colleagues.
No, not one bit. I wouldn’t fancy their job at all. If I found the pace of the game fast, imagine what it’s like for them, fellas flying at them from all angles.
After the game, Hayes hauled his body into the freezing tanks of water laid on to aid recovery – three, one minute sessions immersed in ice-filled tubs of water – and then off back to the team hotel then to change into the black-tie garb for the post match dinner.
That took place at the French team hotel and of course highlight of the night was the sppech for captain Paul O’Connell.
‘Twas gas recalls Hayes, Paul had prepared a speech, written it down and was all ready to go. But a few minutes before he was to get up, Pelous whipped the notes and hid em and Paul hadn’t a clue where they were. But he (Pelous) gave them back and Paul was grand, did a good job.
One senses that O’Connell may have been fortunate that it was Frenchman who had acquired his speech notes.
Afterwards some of the Irish team took themselves off to Kitty O’Shea’s but Hayes returned to the hotel, I was tired and I had a bruised leg so I wanted to get back and get it iced and rest it. The following day we flew back to Dublin and came straight back here to City West. Get back into the swing of things for the Welsh game.
And that’s where the focus now shifts. Lansdowne Road next Sunday and the visit of Wales.
They’ve have a good run here in recent years. Had some good wins. On top of that they’re coming off a win in their first game while we have to pick ourselves up. They’ll fancy their chances. I haven’t seen the video yet of their game against Scotland but by accounts they won well.
“But it’ll be good to be back in Lansdowne Road, in front of our own crowd, They always give us a lift.”
Not many changes on the Irish side but the return of Brian O’Driscoll and the inclusion of his Munster team-mate Donncha O’Callaghan is something he’s pleased about. It’s good to see him getting a start. He’s been knocking on the door awhile now. I’ve known him since he came into the Munster team, shortly after he left school, Declan Kidney brought him into the squad, he was about 19.
” Mind you I haven’t played against him a lot. I did a few years back when Shannon played Con in the AIL in Temple Hill.
And did the young O’Callaghan make an impression ?
Ah, ye knew he was there right enough, grins Hayes, I got one clatter from him, not a dig like, he just ploughed into me. he says, laughing again at the memory.Drico is back as well and that’s a bonus. He’s probably one of the best centres in the world. Ye need blokes like that..
On Friday the squad will move from The City West to The Radisson in Stillorgan. Friday night will have Hayes and co text-messaging Stradey Park to get progress reports on Munster’s clash with Llanelli just as they’d done last week. There was an extra edge last Friday because Munster were playing Leinster and for a while the Munster lads in City West were in dire trouble.
Word was coming through that we were losing and the Leinster boys were giving us fierce slagging. And that went on for a while but then we heard we’d gone in front and it was our turn. It was all in good spirits though.