…Gaffney Looking For Result And Performance…Ticket, Parking And Shuttle Bus Information…Rugby Art Exhibition A Must See…Say What?…Numbers Game…
GAFFNEY LOOKING FOR RESULT AND PERFORMANCE: Excited by his return to a new-look Thomond Park Stadium and his first Test match as part of the Ireland set-up, backs coach Alan Gaffney was in good form when he faced the media at a pre-match press conference on Thursday.
Pressed for his views on Thomond’s redevelopment, he said: “I watched Munster’s game against Glasgow and found it a very impressive stadium. It’s a fine venue for the game at the weekend and great for Canada to play at such a place as Thomond and the history that goes with it.
“If you talk to a lot of the Australians who played here during the World Cup (some years ago), they still have very fond memories of Limerick.”
Although Ireland have a relatively short run-in to the GUINNESS Series 2008, Gaffney are primed for a big performance against Canada and perhaps a statement of intent ahead of the Croke Park clashes with New Zealand and Argentina.
“Canada are not full of professional players and we understand that. But the one thing we’ve got to do is pay them a great deal of respect,” the Australian surmised.
“I suppose you’ve got to look at it that way, and that’s not being disrespectful to Canada.
“But when you’re going in against the number one in the world (New Zealand) and the Argies, who are in the top bracket of international rugby, then Canada, who’d be one of the minnows, is a good game for us.
“But it’s a game that we will not take lightly. A win is extremely important, but equally the performance. We’ve got to go out and play in the manner we want to perform in for the following two weeks.”
Gaffney also discussed the non-selection of Malcolm O’Kelly, Ireland’s most-capped player, for the Canada game, clearing up some misguided speculation in the press.
“This is not the end of Malcolm’s career. Malcolm has been spoken to, he knows where he sits in this regard.
“I think you’ll find, not pre-empting things, but there is every chance Malcolm could be back in next week.
“Malcolm, at this point in time, has been suffering from a slight neck injury. He’s been bothered by that for a lot of the year.
“It probably was a fairly good time for Malcolm to have the week off, because there was no point, if he wasn’t going to be in the 22, having him here in the 34 to hold a tackle bag.”
TICKET, PARKING AND SHUTTLE BUS INFORMATION: A limited amount of tickets are still available for the opening game of the GUINNESS Series 2008 which will see Ireland take on Canada at Thomond Park on Saturday.
The game is vital for Ireland in terms of IRB World Ranking points and will be the first outing for Ireland coach Declan Kidney and the new coaching staff.
Tickets can still be purchased from the Munster Branch ticket offices at Thomond Park and Musgrave Park today (Friday) from 10am to 4pm.
There will also be a limited amount of tickets available on the day of the game from 12.30pm at the West side of the Stadium, but fans are encouraged to get their tickets in advance of the game to avoid disappointment for what promises to be a cracking encounter to kick off the international season.
Getting Into Thomond Park
Thomond Park operates an automated ticket/turnstile system. Please click here to view a short video on the new automatic turnstile system in action Thomond Park.
In addition, Limerick City Council would like to advise Members of the public travelling to matches at Thomond Park, that the parking of vehicles is expressly forbidden on any green area maintained by the City Council.
It is the policy of the City Council to photograph vehicles so parked, issue fixed penalty notices, and in some instances, remove these vehicles. Information signs to this effect have been erected on all approaches to the venue.
Bus Eireann Shuttle Bus Service to Thomond Park Stadium
– Departing from Henry St., outside the Harveys Quay Dunnes Stores
– Service commences at 3.15pm
– A nominal fee is charged on board
RUGBY ART EXHIBITION A MUST SEE: If you are in Limerick for the game this weekend, then why not pop along to the excellent ‘Rugby – The Popular Side’ art exhibition which is being held at Istrabraq Hall, City Hall in Limerick from this Saturday until November 21.
The first solo exhibition of Ger Mallen should prove a popular pre-match attraction on Saturday, with it being open from 10am to 2pm and the Canada game kicking off at 5.15pm.
It is presented in various medium including acrylic, pencil, ink, conte and charcoal, and the paintings include ‘The High King’ (Paul O’Connell), Stand Up & Fight, Thomond Park 1978, Hook & Pope RFC, Dodo Reddan, Clubs of Limerick Rugby, Richard Harris and Michael Galvin.
Cartoons will include Woody, Paul O’Connell, John Hayes, Gerry McLoughlin’s famous try in Twickenham and ‘Je suis un prop’ featuring Peter Clohessy.
The exhibition will also feature two large cartoon versions of the haka featuring Doug Howlett and a surprise player! A step-by-step instruction for a child or the young at heart to try their hand at drawing their favourite player will be provided.
Ger said: “I hope this exhibition will offer a unique glimpse into part of our city’s unique heritage and culture and I hope that all of you who are kind enough to attend will find something to enjoy, perhaps something that sparks a memory or brings a smile.
“For in the sphere of rugby, the memories we all have, have created these Incredible, magical moments to which I hope I will have given some justice to in this exhibition.”
The exhibition is free and open to the public during regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm including lunch-time).
It will be open on Saturday, November 8 from 10am to 2pm and again on Monday, November 17 until 8pm. A percentage of proceeds of the sale of paintings will go to the Injured Rugby Players fund in Ireland.
“I don’t think (complacency) is a danger. The players have prepared for this game the exact same as they would for any other Test match.
“It’s an international Test match, and there are quality players in the Canadian fifteen. If you are loose, they have some good strike runners and they can penetrate and get behind you.
“If you give loose penalties away in your own half, James Pritchard will kick goals.”
– Ireland kicking coach Mark Tainton comments on the hosts’ approach to Saturday’s GUINNESS Series 2008 opener and highlights the dangers of the likes of Ciaran Hearn, Justin Mensah-Coker and Ryan Smith in open play, as well as James Pritchard’s goal-kicking ability
“My hope is to win. Play the style of rugby we hope to play, branching out from the traditional Canadian game – smash it up, smash it up – we’re better than that.
“We’ve got speed as well and Jimmy Pritchard is one of the better place-kickers that I’ve seen. You get more up for this than you would against the States or teams that are below you.”
– Inside centre Ryan Smith gives his views on Saturday’s game and the Kieran Crowley-coached Canadians will tackle facing Ireland under the floodlights at Thomond Park Stadium
“I think what will happen naturally is that their shifting of positions will be based on reads, based on where they end up on the field in different general plays.
“So it’s not a tactic to say ‘shift here’ and ‘shift there’ but in the course of the game I think all the back-three have a responsibility to be able to move when they need to.
“I know Alan (Gaffney) has worked it well with (Rob) Kearney being able to switch between 15 and the wing at different times with Leinster.”
– Ireland defence coach Les Kiss talks about the possibility of the back-three switching positions during Saturday’s clash with Canada, with Keith Earls, Tommy Bowe and Rob Kearney having experience this season of playing in positions other than those they have been selected in this time around
17 – The average number of points scored by Ireland during their 13 international matches last season, from the 31-21 defeat to Scotland in August through to last June’s 18-12 loss to the Wallabies at the Telstra Dome. Their highest score was the 34 points tallied up against Scotland at Croke Park, while the 25-3 Rugby World Cup pool reversal to France marked their lowest score
1 – The number of players in the Ireland squad for Saturday’s game who played for the ‘A’ team against Canada in the 2007 Churchill Cup. Keith Earls, playing on the left wing and scoring a 29th minute try, lined out for that game at Sandy Park in Exeter. Ulster lock Ryan Caldwell, a member of the extended GUINNESS Series 2008 panel, was another starter in that game
10 – The number of points that Canada full-back James Pritchard is averaging per Test match. The Australian-born player has played 21 times for the Canucks, amassing 209 points and that haul includes a 16-point tally (try, conversion and 3 penalties) from last weekend’s win over Portugal