See below for reaction from Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan after his side lost out 20-17 to France, the reigning Six Nations champions, at Croke Park on Sunday.
ON THE RESULT:
“It was tough to take because I thought we’d done enough to win the game.
“They needed a lucky break to win and they got it when the ball bounced their way. It’s hard to swallow a loss like that. If we’d done something stupid like dropping the ball or giving away a penalty, then fair enough. But it was a lucky break.”
ON IRELAND’S OVERALL PERFORMANCE:
“We didn’t get our hands on the football a lot, France dictated the pace of the game and we lost our first couple of set pieces. We were trying to contain them for the first 20 minutes, but once we got our hands on the ball and went at them, we played ourselves back into the game.
“At half-time, I was happy to be two points down and I felt we had got a handle on things.
“After that, we held on to the ball a lot better, took them on, mixed it up between moving it wide and punching around the sides and mauling them and making them work hard. It was always going to be nip and tuck.
“We were a bit unlucky a few times when we got breaks – Geordan was one, Marcus was another one. If we had got a try at that point, it might have sealed the game.
“We had the French where we wanted them. We controlled the game a lot better (in the second half) and they weren’t happy with the way things were going.
“They needed a lucky break at the death and it couldn’t have come at a worse time because there was no time to come back. We were dead in the water.”
ON THE CLOSING MINUTES’ PLAY:
“We still showed a lot of composure. The last score we got came from a lineout in our own half and we put a fantastic maul together. We were ahead and the pressure was on and they couldn’t afford to give away a penalty for field position.
“Eventually, we got them to give away a penalty and Rog (Ronan O’Gara) nailed it. But the ball broke the wrong way at the restart, they hit it on the run and that was it.”
ON REFEREE STEVE WALSH’S DISPLAY:
“To be fair to Steve, he said sorry to the boys when he blew the whistle for Geordan’s incident. A French player knocked it on, another picked it up and he automatically assumed the advantage was over. Then a French man threw an intercept pass.
That’s the luck of the draw and it could happen to any referee. As for the Marcus incident, you could call it any way but we had Simon (Easterby) in a similar situation last week and it went our way. I thought Steve had a good game, he called it down the middle and refereed consistently at the breakdown. I don’t think he influenced the outcome.”
ON THE REMAINDER OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP:
“When you lose a game by one score, you can scroll back through the tape and pick out 10, 15 mistakes and think if we didn’t make those mistakes, we might have won. But that’s a pointless exercise.
“It’s a challenge to pick ourselves up for what is still to come but there’s a Triple Crown and possibly a championship still to come. We won four games last year and lost the title on points.”
ON IRELAND’S WORLD CUP MEETING WITH FRANCE:
“If we got a shellacking by 50 points, we’d be worried about the World Cup but I wouldn’t mind being in the same boat in Paris with two minutes on the clock and see where the ball bounced.
“If we got a good hiding, I’d say we were in trouble for the World Cup but on that performance I think we can go to France and win there. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
“They’re a good side. They have the best record in the Six Nations over the past while and to win against France a lot of things have to go right on the day with a bit of luck thrown in. Today has proved the case.”