In his latest blog, Paul O’Connell reflects on the squad’s mini camp at Carton House in Kildare and the Ireland cricket team’s memorable World Cup win over England.
I didn’t need a second invitation when Keith Wood asked me if I’d like to play a couple of holes on the O’Meara course at Carton House in shooting some television footage that BBC Sport will use in the build-up to one of the remaining matches in the Six Nations.
I have a brand new set of Taylor Made that I have been dying to use – I’ve managed just four holes prior to this – and was pleasantly surprised when I coaxed a five iron to 20 feet on a gorgeous par three.
My smugness quickly evaporated when I proceeded to three putt, my first effort barely covering half the distance to the hole.
I sliced my drive on the par five, a beautiful hole by the river, laid up with a five iron and then failed to keep my wedge shot dry. At that point we had to finish up, which was probably just as well.
There is a suggestion that we might be based in Carton House for the build-up to the World Cup. Keith Earls summed it up perfectly when he suggested: ‘I don’t know about the World Cup, but we’ll be ready to play in the Ryder Cup!’
It’s a great spot for those of us who like our golf and there are a few in the squad.
We were disappointed in the wake of the Scotland game. We’re still giving away too many penalties, making silly errors and putting down balls but in creativity terms and from a defence perspective our game is in good shape.
We are not dogged by systemic problems. I would be more concerned if we had got 21 points from the boot.
That is not to ignore the shortcomings. Everyone knows that our penalty count must come down. I was disappointed with how the lineout went and I’ll take most of the blame for that.
They weren’t the best calls at times and I felt sorry for the hookers who are targeted for blame. I made a few poor choices. Match fitness extends far beyond the physical and I know that as I rack up the game-time, this aspect of my game will pick up.
Ireland’s performance against England in the cricket was unbelievable, although some of the squad betrayed a sketchy knowledge to say the least.
I stated at one point that the 12 guys out there were doing a fantastic job before our defence coach Les Kiss, a proud Australian, pointed out that there are 11 players on a team.
Still my own shortcomings paled when it came to Donners (Donncha O’Callaghan) who, after a four from Trent Johnson, exclaimed: ‘I don’t know why we’re all screaming, but I’m excited.’
I thought that the Ireland team showed tremendous bottle. World sport offers up many an underdog who put themselves on the cusp of achieving a major upset but it takes tremendous character to see that through under the most intense pressure. The Ireland cricket team did that in spades.
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Paul’s blogs are on www.bethedifference.ie