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Dempsey Looking To Make Most Of ‘Fresh Start’

Dempsey Looking To Make Most Of ‘Fresh Start’

Leinster full-back Girvan Dempsey views the upcoming Six Nations championship as a “fresh start” for an Ireland side that played well below expectations during the 2007 World Cup.

Speaking as the Irish squad assembled at its base in Killiney, Dempsey is looking forward to banishing memories of the World Cup and insisted that morale in the camp is high despite recent results.

“Regardless of what’s gone on beforehand, it’s a new tournament, a fresh start and we’ve set goals and targets for what we want to achieve. Pressure is always there and it’s up to us as to how we handle it. It’s not about trying to restore reputations,” said the Terenure College clubman.

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“No matter who you talk to in the public domain, they’ll have their own different expectations. Some will feel we have to win the tournament, some feel we need to win another Triple Crown.

“But it’s all about what we want to achieve and we have our own goals. We’ve had some good meetings and we’re very driven to do well in this Six Nations and be the team we know we can.”

Having played and scored in last season’s memorable 43-13 win over England, Dempsey knows just how important the ‘Croke Park’ factor could be again this year – particularly with the Jones’ Road venue hosting three of Ireland’s five matches, including their February 2 clash with Italy.

“It’s definitely going to help us to get into Croke Park and get a crowd behind us like we’ve had on the two previous occasions,” he agreed.

“People savoured what was a special atmosphere on both days (against France and England last year) and want to be part of it.

“I think they’ll come along to Croke Park on February 2 against the Italians wanting to get involved in what will hopefully be a great game.”

Ireland’s trip to France the following week will once again be a key game, with the men in green’s championship hopes largely resting on whether or not they can pull off a elusive win at the Stade de France.

Dempsey conceded: “If you look back at the games we’ve played over there (against France), it seems to be early on that we give them a start and easy points. Then we find ourselves chasing the game. That’s a crucial thing.

“Against French teams, you can’t give them a sniff early on. You really need to be very clued in and make sure the game is tight going into the latter quarter because the crowd doesn’t seem to get behind them later on.

“They start to doubt themselves and if we can play well we can definitely bring that to the forefront of their minds.”