The Ireland Men and Women finished third and fourth respectively at II Torneo Internacional Rugby 7s in Elche, Spain over the weekend.
The Ireland Men’s team, coached by Stan McDowell, enjoyed a strong finish to the tournament as they defeated Portugal 42-14 in Saturday’s 3rd-4th place play-off.
Terry Kennedy took down the kick-off and a few phases later, Alan Bennie’s smart break and pass sent the supporting Nick Timoney crashing over in the left corner for the opening try.
Gearoid Lyons added a terrific conversion and maintaining a high tempo, Ireland were quick to tag on a second try. Cian Aherne was the scorer, brilliantly cutting in from the left wing past two defenders before a final hand-off took him over close to the posts. Lyons converted for 14-0.
The Portuguese replied with a well-taken breakaway score, but Ireland managed to lead 21-7 by the break, Foster Horan doing well to win turnover ball at a ruck and Aherne’s strong break through the middle saw him up tee up his UL Bohemians club-mate Bennie to go over unopposed behind the posts.
Ireland’s high rate of scoring continued straight after the restart, Adam Byrne immediately setting off down the right wing and looping a pass inside for Mark Roche to collect and sprint in behind the posts.
Fed possession just inside his 22, Kennedy turned on the after-burners to break away up the left flank and score try number five. But a harsh yellow card for Horan gave Portugal a numerical advantage and they duly picked up their second seven-pointer.
The numbers were then even up following a series of ruck offences by Portugal, and Roche completed his brace from a Matthew O’Regan pass with Lyons landing his sixth successful conversion for a 28-point winning margin.
Earlier in the day, the Ireland Men lost to European champions France (38-7) and runners-up Spain (31-14), showing the ground they need to make up before competing with the Spanish and 14 other teams at next summer’s World Olympic Repechage tournament.
Captain Tom Daly took advantage of a early French sin-binning to run in a try which he converted himself, however France profited from some good angles of running and clever offloading to score three tries by the interval for a 19-7 buffer.
Les Bleus struck again from a quick tap in the Irish 22 and despite some purposeful running from UCD duo Adam Byrne and Barry Daly and a second yellow card for the French, Ireland leaked two more tries to finish on the end of a 31-point beating.
Ireland faced Spain next up, but the eager hosts sliced through the heart of the Irish defence for a try from Angel Lopez inside 13 seconds. A second converted effort soon followed.
Daly and his team-mates tried to break free from their own half, but a combination of poor decision making and determined Spanish defending meant they could not make much progress and trailed 14-0 at the interval.
Another well-timed offload out of a tackle set up Spain’s third converted score, but Timoney, who played very well in his first tournament with the squad, stepped inside a couple of defenders to notch a well-worked Irish try. Lyons was a key figure in the build-up, twice injecting pace into the attack.
Spain seized control of the game again with two tries before nice footwork from Lansdowne clubman Roche opened up the Spanish defence and he cut through for a consolation score from just outside the hosts’ 22.
Meanwhile, the Ireland Women continued on their own learning curve ahead of next month’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series opening round in Dubai. Like their male counterparts, they also got some valuable game-time against France, the reigning European champions, and Spain, one of their rivals at next summer’s World Olympic Repechage tournament.
Ireland, France and Spain will also compete in the upcoming World Series as core teams. The girls in green proved far too strong for a local Alicante selection in their opening game on Saturday morning.
A try from Aoife Doyle (pictured above) inside the opening 20 seconds set them on their way and Alison Miller found a lot of joy down the left wing, notching a first half hat-trick.
Doyle completed her brace and Shannon Houston and Eimear Considine also crossed before half-time, with Kim Flood’s four successful conversions making it 43-0 at the turnaround.
The one-way traffic continued on the restart as Houston showed a good turn of pace to break over halfway and Flood converted to rack up the half-century. The Irish ran in four more converted tries for a 78-0 final scoreline, the pacey Doyle taking her tally to four, two steps off her right taking Considine over again and Kim’s sister Stacey got on the scoresheet in the final minute with try number 12.
Ireland captain Lucy Mulhall sparked a lively opening from Ireland in their clash with France. Megan Williams was hauled down just short and Stacey Flood fumbled the ball as she tried to stretch over from close range. Miller was also inches away from touching down a loose ball past the try-line.
Crucially, the French side managed to absorb the pressure and after a scoreless but entertaining first half, Jennifer Troncy broke the deadlock with a converted try and les Bleues added a second soon after for a 12-0 win.
Anthony Eddy’s side started their 3rd-4th place play-off against Spain on the front foot, with Mulhall (pictured below) and Claire Keohane leading the charge. Considine used her power and pace to break into the 22, taking a brilliant return pass from Keohane to go over in the left corner.
Spain were quick to respond, though, as the ever-influential Patricia Garcia burst through a gap on the 10-metre line and despite a great cover tackle from Amee-Leigh Crowe, the Spanish play-maker reached over to make it 5-all.
Although Keohane saw yellow for infringing at a ruck, Ireland stayed on level terms up to half-time thanks to some gritty defending from Houston and Williams, in particular.
But a quick turnover allowed the sidestepping Garcia make a 35-metre burst to the line for her second try which she converted herself. Spain could have added a third try but Ireland defended well and ran out of time when launching a late breakout, as they fell to a 12-5 defeat.
IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (II Torneo Internacional Rugby 7s, Campo José Díez Iborra, Elche, Spain, Friday, November 13-Saturday, November 14):
Cian Aherne (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Alan Bennie (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Adam Byrne (UCD/Leinster)
Aaron Cairns (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Tom Daly (Lansdowne/Leinster) (capt)
Barry Daly (UCD/Leinster)
Matthew D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Foster Horan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Gearoid Lyons (Young Munster/Munster)
Matthew O’Regan (Macclesfield/Exiles)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Nick Timoney (Queen’s University/Ulster)
Ireland Men’s Sevens Results –
Friday, November 13:
Spain 19 Ireland 7
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Adam Byrne; Con: Tom Daly
Ireland 31 Portugal 5
Scorers: Tries: Cian Aherne, Barry Daly, Matthew O’Regan, Terry Kennedy, Mark Roche; Cons: Gearoid Lyons, Tom Daly 2
Saturday, November 14:
France 38 Ireland 7
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Tom Daly; Con: Tom Daly
Spain 31 Ireland 14
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Nick Timoney, Mark Roche; Cons: Tom Daly, Foster Horan
Ireland 42 Portugal 14
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Nick Timoney, Cian Aherne, Alan Bennie, Mark Roche 2, Terry Kennedy; Cons: Gearoid Lyons 6
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (II Torneo Internacional Rugby 7s, Campo José Díez Iborra, Elche, Spain, Friday, November 13-Saturday, November 14):
Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster)
Megan Williams (St. Mary’s/Leinster)
Audrey O’Flynn (TID)
Emma Murphy (Railway Union/Leinster)
Kim Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Shannon Houston (Blackrock/Leinster)
Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum/Leinster) (capt)
Eimear Considine (TID)
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Aoife Doyle (Shannon/Munster)
Amee-Leigh Crowe (St. Mary’s/Munster)
Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht)
Ireland Women’s Sevens Results –
Friday, November 13:
Portugal 12 Ireland 19
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Alison Miller 2, Kim Flood; Cons: Kim Flood 2
Ireland 7 Britain 26
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Amee-Leigh Crowe; Con: Lucy Mulhall
Spain 21 Ireland 5
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Amee-Leigh Crowe
Saturday, November 14:
Spain Development 0 Ireland 78
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Aoife Doyle 4, Alison Miller 3, Shannon Houston 2, Eimear Considine 2, Stacey Flood; Cons: Kim Flood 7, Lucy Mulhall 2
Ireland 0 France 12
Scorers: Ireland: –
Spain 12 Ireland 5
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Eimear Considine