The Ireland Sevens squad, sponsored by Independent News and Media, have finished fourth overall at the FIRA-AER European Sevens Championship in Hannover, Germany. They lost 26-7 to Georgia in the third place play-off.
Jon Skurr’s Ireland side had earlier beaten Poland in their final pool match to secure second place in Pool B, thus gaining qualification for next year’s IRB Sevens World Cup in Dubai.
But their chances of lifting silverware took a hit when they went down to an agonising 14-12 defeat to Portugal in the semi-finals.
The Irish overcame a first half yellow card to really put it up to to top seeds Portugal at the AWD-Arena.
The Portuguese, regulars on the IRB World Sevens circuit, knocked on over the Irish try-line as they threatened early on.
But after Ireland were cut to six players, Pedro Leal sliced through for the semi-final’s opening try, which he converted himself.
Portugal moved 14-0 ahead just after the break when their captain Diogo Mateus, a name familiar to Munster supporters, touched down out wide on the left, with the conversion successfully added.
Skurr’s men had a mountain to climb but they got back into contention when Connacht out-half Ian Keatley darted over close to the posts for a much-needed converted try.
In a dramatic finale, Keatley then touched down for a second time but unfortunately the conversion was missed and Portugal were able to hang on for a two-point win.
In their final outing in Hannover – the third place play-off – Ireland took on a highly-regarded Georgia side.
Skurr’s charges took a 7-5 lead into half-time as UCD flyer Cian Aherne grabbed a converted try, in response to an early five-pointer from Simon Maisuradze.
The Georgians had a player yellow carded before the break but they made an impressive start to the second period with converted tries from Irakli Gegenava and Jaba Bregvadze.
A bout of fisticuffs led to yellow cards for both sides and Georgia were able to confirm their 26-7 win and bronze medal finish with a late try from the influential Maisuradze.
Overall, Ireland’s try scorers at the tournament were Andrew Maxwell (5), Ian Keatley (4), Seamus Mallon (2), Richard Briggs (2), Darren Cave (2), Kieran Campbell, James Coughlan, Brian Tuohy, Chris Henry and Cian Aherne (1 each).
For a round-up of Ireland’s pool matches and how they qualified for the Sevens World Cup, please click here.
For a pre-tournament interview with Jon Skurr, click here.
Click here for player profiles of the Ireland Sevens squad.