The Ireland Men’s Sevens team finished third a the Dubai Men’s Sevens International Invitational Tournament, seeing off France Development in the 3rd/4th place-off. Ireland lost out to eventual champions Samurai 7s in the semi-final, having defeated Georgia earlier in the day.
Having topped their group on the opening day, the Stan McDowell-coached Irish side faced Georgia in the Cup quarter-finals. They were quick to put pressure on the Georgians and forced a knock-on from the kick-off which allowed Munster Academy player Dan Goggin to gather and touch down.
Ireland, who had beaten Georgia at the Lisbon Sevens in July, used accurate passing to move the ball from right to left, before changing the direction of attack, with Goggin again involved as he threw a long skip pass out to Barry Daly who slid in to the corner, giving the men in green a 10-0 half-time lead.
Ireland dropped their composure slightly in the second half, and while Lansdowne winger Mark Roche touched down under the posts, Georgia managed to steal a try by utilising space out wide and outpacing the Irish cover. However, a closing penalty from captain Tom Daly sealed a 20-7 win.
Ireland then met Samurai 7s, an international Sevens touring side made up predominately of South African players, in an eagerly-awaited semi-final clash.
A good crowd of Irish supporters turned out to support McDowell’s charges who found themselves seven points down after two minutes when Samurai chipped over the top of the Irish defence, regathered and moved the ball out wide to score.
Ireland looked to come back fighting, and a strong break from Goggin looked promising for the Irish, however as he powered towards the Samurai five-metre line, he was turned over.
Samurai quickly shipped the ball wide to one of their pacey wingers, who sprinted from his own half to score under the Irish posts. A ruck penalty against Ireland soon proved costly as Samurai quickly tapped and scored.
From Samurai’s kick-off, former Ireland Under-20 winger Barry Daly used his strength and speed to make his way down the right side of the field before being brought down just outside the Samurai 22. Ireland recycled well and shifted the ball wide to Ballynahinch clubman Aaron Cairns who outmuscled his opposite man to score Ireland’s first try, leaving it 19-5 at the break.
In the second half, Samurai again found space in the Irish defence to score a converted try. Samurai’s discipline left them towards the end of the game, and they were given a yellow card for infringing at ruck time.
Young Munster’s Gearoid Lyons took the subsequent penalty quickly and dived over the line. He kicked a challenging conversion to leave the final score at Samurai 26-12 Ireland.
In Ireland’s final game of the tournament, they faced the FFR Development side in the 3rd/4th place-off. Ireland set out a marker early on, with Leinster winger Adam Byrne powering through the middle of the French defence before offloading to skipper Tom Daly who touched down.
Pressure on the French attack say them fumble the ball into touch and from the resulting lineout, Ireland scored a try straight from the training ground through Lyons, which he also converted.
Ireland continued to squeeze the French. They turned over a ball at ruck time to allow Ulsterman David McGuigan score under the posts. Lyons again converted, making it 19-0 at the break.
In the second half, the French managed to break the Irish line, and while Adam Byrne, who had just returned from the sin-bin, did well to track back and make a cover tackle, the French offloaded to score.
With the Dubai heat beginning to take its toll on the players, France moved the ball wide in their own 22, and fresh legs from the French bench rounded the Irish defensive line to sprint the length of the field.
That was to be the final score, and speaking after the 19-10 for his team, coach Stan McDowell said: “We’re really pleased with a third place finish. We are very much in a developmental stage with these players, and going out to play against the likes of Apache and Samurai, sides who have seasoned Sevens players that have been competing on the International stage for several years is really beneficial for us.
“The guys did very well, and this week has given them a good insight as to what is required to make it to the main stage.”
IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (Emirates Airline International Invitational Men’s Tournament – Dubai, UAE – Friday, December 4-Saturday, December 5):
Adam Byrne (UCD/Leinster)
Aaron Cairns (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Barry Daly (UCD/Leinster)
Dan Goggin (Young Munster/Munster)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Gearoid Lyons (Young Munster/Munster)
David McGuigan (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Rory O’Loughlin (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Steve Toal-Lennon (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Ireland Men’s Sevens Results –
Friday, December 4:
Belgium Rugby 7s 0 Ireland 36
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Dan Goggin, Barry Daly 2, Aaron Cairns, Nick Timoney, Gearoid Lyons; Cons: Tom Daly 3
Apache 19 Ireland 0
Scorers: Ireland: –
Saturday, December 5:
Cup Quarter-Final: Georgia 7 Ireland 20
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Dan Goggin, Barry Daly, Aaron Cairns; Con: Tom Daly; Pen: Tom Daly
Team: Tom Daly (capt), Adam Byrne, Aaron Cairns, Nick Timoney, David McGuigan, Barry Daly, Dan Goggin.
Subs: Steve Toal-Lennon, Mark Roche, Rory O’Loughlin, Terry Kennedy, Gearoid Lyons.
Cup Semi-Final: Ireland 12 Samurai 7s 26
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Aaron Cairns, Gearoid Lyons; Con Gearoid Lyons
Team: Tom Daly (capt), Adam Byrne, Aaron Cairns, Terry Kennedy, Nick Timoney, Barry Daly, Dan Goggin.
Subs: Steve Toal-Lennon, Mark Roche, Rory O’Loughlin, David McGuigan, Gearoid Lyons.
3rd/4th Place Play-Off: Ireland 19 FFR Development 10
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Tom Daly, Gearoid Lyons, David McGuigan; Cons: Gearoid Lyons 2
Team: Tom Daly (capt), Steve Toal-Lennon, Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Terry Kennedy, Gearoid Lyons, David McGuigan.
Subs: Aaron Cairns, Mark Roche, Nick Timoney, Barry Daly.