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Ireland Men Qualify For Olympic Repechage With Third Place Finish

Ireland Men Qualify For Olympic Repechage With Third Place Finish

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team qualified for the World Rugby Olympic Repechage next year thanks to a third place finish at the Rugby Europe Olympic Repechage tournament in Lisbon today.

Ireland’s accuracy from kick-offs proved crucial as they won the 3rd/4th place play-off against Georgia (15-7) to seal their place at next June’s global repechage event.

The opening try came from Lansdowne’s Ian Fitzpatrick – just a minute into the game – after some excellent hands from Aaron Cairns, who was industrious all day.

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Gearoid Lyons, captaining the team in the absence of the injured Tom Daly, missed the difficult conversion, but his hanging restarts provided the perfect platform for Ireland to attack. The chasers had time to put pressure on Georgia and knock the ball back and retain possession.

UCD clubman Harry McNulty pounced on the ball as it squirted free from an ensuing ruck and ran in Ireland’s second unconverted score to make it 10-0.

The restart kick again proved fruitful for Ireland as the Georgians failed to cope with the high ball and the men in green worked the ball up the pitch. Terry Kennedy scampered through from a ruck to give Ireland their third five-pointer.

A late first half surge from Georgia was then snuffed out as Adam Byrne put in a try-saving tackle to hold his man up over the line. The second half saw Georgia come out fighting and with both sides reduced to six men from yellow cards, Ireland’s work-rate was impressive throughout.

Georgia scored the only points of the half but the young Irish side covered well to win out on an eight-point margin and earn the plaudits from their toughest tournament to date.

Earlier in the day, Ireland battled their way past Lithuania in a tight and tense quarter-final tie, with a last-minute try from Mark Roche sealing a 17-0 result for the men in green.

The Irish outfit struggled to get out of their 22 early on, and were fortunate when Lithuania knocked on out wide while Ballynahinch ace Cairns was down receiving treatment.

Back on his feet, Cairns then broke up the left wing and while his pass back inside hacked on by Lyons, the ball beat everyone for a Lithuanian lineout five metres out. However, the subsequent lineout went loose and the alert McNulty managed to reach out and get the touchdown ahead of a covering player.

5-0 is how it stayed up to half-time and Ireland, looking the more threatening as Alex Wootton and Byrne increased their influence in attack, missed a chance to add to their lead when Lyons knocked on following a half-break.

Nonetheless, they gradually ground the Lithuanians down. Good work from McNulty and Lyons, who wisely attacked the short side, set the wheels in motion for Byrne to go over in the left corner.

Ireland had to weather a good spell of Lithuanian pressure before Shane Layden’s kick downfield bounced favourably for the onrushing Roche to sprint clear from halfway and claim the clinching seven-pointer.

Meeting top-seeded Russia for the second time this weekend, Ireland gave another very good account of themselves against more experienced opponents, going down 24-10 in a well-contested semi-final.

An offload that might have been called forward on another day led to the Russians taking a 5-0 lead, but Ireland managed to level before the break. Aggressive Irish defending, combined with a powerful carry from Wootton, got them into scoring range and space was created on the left for Byrne to stretch over in the corner.

Disciplined defence kept the Russians out approaching half-time, and Ireland edged ahead early in the second half with another unconverted effort. Brilliant support play and running from Cairns and then Fitzpatrick forced Russia backwards and having done to build through the phases, possession was worked wide to the right where Fitzpatrick finished smartly.

Lyons was unable to convert and that was to be the end of Ireland’s scoring. They were caught flat by a Russian kick which resulted in a try and a 10-all scoreline. Byrne threatened shortly afterwards but ran out of room, and the result was sealed by two more Russian tries as the Irish challenge petered out.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (Rugby Europe Olympic Repechage, Lisbon, Saturday, July 18-Sunday, July 19):

Adam Byrne (UCD/Leinster)
Aaron Cairns (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Shane Layden (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Gearoid Lyons (Young Munster/Munster)
Diarmaid McCarthy (Young Munster/Munster)
David McGuigan (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Harry McNulty (UCD/Leinster)
Matthew O’Regan (Exiles)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Alex Wootton (Garryowen/Munster)
Steve Toal-Lennon (St Mary’s College/Leinster)

Ireland Results:

Saturday: Pool A –

Russia 19 Ireland 19
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Steve Toal-Lennon, Shane Layden, Harry McNulty; Cons: Steve Toal-Lennon, Gearoid Lyons

Georgia 17 Ireland 21
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Alex Wootton, Ian Fitzpatrick, Aaron Cairns; Cons: Gearoid Lyons 3

Italy 15 Ireland 33
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Alex Wootton 2, Adam Byrne, Aaron Cairns, Terry Kennedy; Cons: Gearoid Lyons 4

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland Men Advance As Pool Winners In Lisbon

Full Tournament Pools/Fixtures/Results

Sunday: Cup Quarter-Finals –

Ireland 17 Lithuania 0
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Harry McNulty, Adam Byrne, Mark Roche; Con: Gearoid Lyons

Germany 26 Romania 5
Portugal 0 Russia 24
Belgium 5 Georgia 21

Cup Semi-Finals –

Russia 24 v Ireland 10
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Adam Byrne, Ian Fitzpatrick

Germany 26 Georgia 5

3rd/4th Place Play-Off –

Ireland 15 v Georgia 7
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Ian Fitzpatrick, Harry McNulty, Terry Kennedy