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Ireland Sevens Team Reaches Final In Denmark

Ireland Sevens Team Reaches Final In Denmark

The Ireland Sevens team (sponsored by Independent News & Media) began its charge towards the goal of qualification for the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament with a positive runners-up spot in the Denmark Sevens competition at the weekend.

The tournament took place in Odense and is the first of three FIRA-AER qualifying rounds for the World Sevens that Ireland will take part in over the coming months.

The Ireland squad is being coached by Jon Skurr (a noted Sevens specialist with the DHL Exiles Sevens) and managed by Hugh McCaughey and contains players from the provincial teams and Exiles with a blend of Magners League and Churchill Cup experience.

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The next round of qualification games takes place in Sopot, Poland (May 24-25) and Ireland must gain enough points at this tournament to progress through to the final qualifier in Hanover, Germany in July where the top five teams from that competition will qualify for the IRB World Sevens in Dubai.

The Ireland squad began the tournament with victories over Austria (70-0) and Switzerland (49-0) on Saturday and completed the day with a strong display to beat Wales (26-10).

On Sunday, the Irish side registered further wins win over the hosts Denmark (45-0) and Belgium (36-0) in the semi-finals.

The final was a rematch with Wales and the sides finished regulation time at 26-26, forcing the game into extra-time.

The first team to score would win the game though the ‘golden point’ rule and Wales got that vital score through a dropped goal from a penalty to take the match 29-26.

Although the finish was a heartbreaker for the squad, manager Hugh McCaughey said: “The display over the two days augured well for the next rounds. The squad were excellent and when you consider that many of the Wales players had the experience of playing in the IRB Sevens World Series, I think we have plenty of positives going forward.

“We had some good individual performances as well with Darren Cave the top try scorer for the tournament with nine.  Overall we got better as the tournament went on.

“The final was a close affair and certainly we were gutted with the manner in which we lost, but the experience will stand to us in Poland,” he added.

Ireland Sevens Squad (Odense tournament, Denmark):

James Coughlan (Dolphin/Munster)

Chris Henry (Malone/Ulster)

Brian Tuohy (Cornish Pirates)

Seamus Mallon (Ballymena/Ulster)

Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)

Richard Briggs (Esher)

Kieran Campbell (Dungannon/Ulster)

Andrew Maxwell (Edinburgh)

Cian Aherne (UCD/Leinster)

Ian Keatley (Clontarf/Leinster)