…Fitzgerald Helps Launch ARC House Mini Marathon…Kyle Says Ireland Can Do It…Be The Difference…Say What?…Numbers Game…
FITZGERALD HELPS LAUNCH ARC HOUSE MINI MARATHON: Ireland winger Luke Fitzgerald took time out this week to lend his support for the inaugural ARC House Men’s Mini Marathon, which will take place in Dublin on Bank Holiday Monday, May 4.
The event aims to raise awareness for services provided for men by ARC Cancer Support Centre along with raising funds for the Centre. For further details and race registration, please visit http://www.arccancersupport.ie/ or http://www.arcchallenges.com/.
Meanwhile, Fitzgerald’s Leinster and Ireland team-mate Rob Kearney says that the fear of missing out on the Championship and Grand Slam will be a driving force for the men in green this weekend.
“Potentially, this is a good way to end the season but it could be heartache for us too,” the Louth man said, ahead of Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations title decider.
“We have to have that fear in our game. There can be no such thing as complacency when you are playing Wales in Cardiff.
“They won the Grand Slam last year so it takes a brave side to be complacent against them.
“We will have that bit of fear in us because we are playing against such a good team. It’s important to have that fear as it can bring out the best in you.”
Commenting on the pre-match mood in the Irish camp, Kearney added: “There is an excitement because we are going to Cardiff and it should be a great game.
“But, at the same time, it’s just another 80 minutes of rugby and we will go at it like every game, going out to win it, and it won’t be any different this week.
“We will go out with the sole intention of winning and, if there is a prize at the end, then fantastic.
“There are absolutely no celebrations planned and that will be the last mention of it too.”
KYLE SAYS IRELAND CAN DO IT: The legendary Jack Kyle, the playmaker behind Ireland’s last Grand Slam success in 1948, is backing Declan Kidney’s troops to end the nation’s Grand Slam drought this weekend in Cardiff.
The Belfast-born Kyle is one of seven surviving members of the famous Irish side that beat Wales 6-3 at Ravenhill to complete a clean sweep of Championship victories.
Karl Mullen, Jim McCarthy, Colm Callan, Bertie O’Hanlon, Paddy Reid, Jimmy Nelson and Kyle are all hoping the 2009 team can repeat their feat.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Kyle said: “I believe they can win the Grand Slam. We’ve beaten Wales in Wales before but we know we’re up against tough opposition, especially Wales in Cardiff.
“We had the advantage in ’48 of playing Wales at home but none of us in ’48 would ever have dreamt for a moment that an Irish side wouldn’t have won the Grand Slam for another 61 years.
“It’d be a good thing for Irish rugby and also for the guys who’ve been playing for so many years.
“And it’ll nice for some of them to end their careers and look back and say, ‘we had the Grand Slam win in 2009.’ It adds a lot to anyone’s rugby career.”
While acknowledging the great work of coach Kidney, Kyle, one of the greatests number 10s of the amateur era, also had a special mention for Ireland’s long-time out-half, Ronan O’Gara.
“You’ve got to remember it’s a big responsibility taking the kicks…look back to the Scotland match at Ronan’s penalties and that beautiful drop goal.
“If you talk about the out-half directing things, he has directed them to victory in every game this year so, from that point of view, one has got to give him tremendous praise.
“He fulfils all the functions a good out-half should – let’s hope he can do it on Saturday.”
BE THE DIFFERENCE: Ireland’s ’16th man’ will be out in force in the Welsh capital this weekend but if you are not travelling over to the game, you can still let the players know you are behind them all the way.
O2’s ‘Be The Difference’ campaign has been a massive successive this year and you can still play your part ahead of the Welsh game.
Free-text IRELAND and your name to 50308 or Log on to http://www.bethedifference.ie/ and add your name to the book of support which will be presented to the Ireland players on the eve of Saturday’s game.
For further details, click here.
“We can’t control how much expectation people want to put on this game or how much weight they want to put behind it.
“All we can control is the way we prepare for the match and then when we’re in the game, how we play. Other than that, it’s outside of our hands.
“I’m sure there will be a lot talked about it and a lot written about it. All we’re worried about is playing our game, playing the way we want to play, coming up with a game-plan and doing that.
“If we get carried away with everything else it will mean sod all and we won’t play to our potential. And we must play to our potential on Saturday to be in with a shout against Wales.”
– Ireland number 8 Jamie Heaslip talks about the squad’s approach to Saturday’s title decider against Wales and how they must play to their potential if they want to make it five wins out of five
“They are two fine second rows, in fairness to them. What with the Magners League as well, we’ve had plenty of battles in the past.
“I’m not sure how many consecutive games they have played together, but in the majority of the big Tests they are always there.
“They are probably two of the names that are already pencilled in for the Lions tour. Everyone knows their quality. They are at the top of the tree.
“They’ve played superbly well for Munster, and then duplicated that on the international stage.
“We’ve had some good tussles. They are good players…honest, really hard-working, skilful boys.”
– Wales lock Ian Gough gives his assessment of the Ireland second row partnership of Paul O’Connell and Donncha O’Callaghan, whom he and Alun Wyn Jones will face off against on Saturday
“Going to bed early and having tall parents.”
– Ireland lock Paul O’Connell answers a question from Ireland supporter Paddy McCrossan, who asked him, ‘what does it takes to be really tall?’
1948 – The 1948 fixtures for the Ireland Grand Slam-winning team went in the same order as 2009 with the obvious exception of Italy’s inclusion.
Ireland’s ’48 heroes won their final game at Ravenhill against Wales 6-3. The entrance free was 10 shillings (50p) and the match programme was thrown in for an extra thruppence!
22 – Out-half David Humphreys created the individual scoring record for an Ireland v Wales match by scoring 22 points for Ireland in their Dublin win in 2002. Neil Jenkins set the corresponding record for Wales when he collected 20 points there in the 30-21 win in 1998.
113 – Out-half Neil Jenkins is the leading overall scorer in the Ireland v Wales series. He scored 113 points for Wales in ten appearances against Ireland between 1991 and 2000.
David Humphreys has corresponding record for Ireland with 84 points in nine appearances in the series between 1996 and 2005. The sides’ current number 10s Ronan O’Gara and Stephen Jones have scored 80 points to date