The Ireland Men’s Sevens team had a comfortable passage through to the Cup quarter-finals at the Rugby Europe Trophy tournament in Prague today, chalking up wins over Monaco, Cyprus and Israel along the way.
Coached by Anthony Eddy and Stan McDowell, Ireland ran in an impressive tally of 23 tries as they continued their dominant form from the first leg of the Trophy competition in Malmo last month.
They opened their Pool A campaign with a 57-0 victory over a weakened Monaco side, with good restart work from Harry McNulty and Dan Goggin laying the foundations for the result. New caps Luke O’Dea and John O’Donnell both started.
Eager to build on his power-packed displays in the recent Olympic Repechage, Mick McGrath’s direct running rewarded him with a hat-trick of tries before half-time. Alex Wootton came on to replace the Clontarf man and grabbed three tries himself.
Cyprus, one of Ireland’s toughest opponents in Malmo, again produced a physical challenge. A brace of tries from both Wootton and captain Tom Daly gave Ireland some breathing space by the interval and they eventually ran out 53-0 winners, taking what few chances they got in the second period.
The margin was tighter in the third and final pool game against Israel who used their size to cause the men in green some difficulties in defence. However, Leinster-capped winger McGrath proved a handful once more, finishing with another hat-trick.
Former Munster back O’Dea used great footwork to beat the aggressive defence and score from 60 metres out. Unforced errors at the restart gifted possession to Israel, resulting in the concession of a try just before the break.
Sevens debutant O’Donnell, who spent the past two seasons at Sale Sharks, came off the bench to score his second try of the day – adding to his score from the match against Cyprus – and complete Ireland’s five-try haul.
Overall, McGrath topped the try-scoring charts for Ireland with his six scores, closely followed by Munster Academy talent Wootton (five) and skipper Daly (four), who recently graduated from the Leinster Academy.
The action resumes tomorrow morning at Slavia Praha Rugby Club with Ireland meeting Cyprus at the quarter-final stage (10am local time/9am Irish time). The other last-eight fixtures are Sweden v Latvia, Ukraine v Israel and Romania v Denmark.
The winners of the two-legged Trophy competition will be promoted to the Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series for next season. The Grand Prix is the level just below the World Series.
IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (Rugby Europe Men’s Sevens Trophy Leg 2, RC Slavia Praha, Prague, Czech Republic, July 2-3):
Adam Byrne (UCD/Leinster)
Tom Daly (Lansdowne/Leinster) (capt)
Billy Dardis (UCD/Leinster)
Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Dan Goggin (Young Munster/Munster)
Mick McGrath (Clontarf)
Harry McNulty (UCD)
Luke O’Dea (unaffiliated)
John O’Donnell (unaffiliated)
Josh Rowland (unaffiliated)
Steve Toal-Lennon (St. Mary’s College)
Alex Wootton (Garryowen/Munster)
Ireland Men’s Sevens – Prague Schedule:
Saturday, July 2 –
IRELAND 57 MONACO 0, RC Slavia Praha
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Dan Goggin, Alex Wootton 3, Mick McGrath 3, Steve Toal-Lennon, Tom Daly; Cons: Billy Dardis 3, Steve Toal-Lennon 2, Tom Daly
IRELAND: John O’Donnell, Harry McNulty, Luke O’Dea, Adam Byrne, Steve Toal-Lennon, Tom Daly (capt), Mick McGrath.
Subs: Dan Goggin, Ian Fitzpatrick, Josh Rowland, Billy Dardis, Alex Wootton.
IRELAND 53 CYPRUS 0, RC Slavia Praha
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Dan Goggin, Steve Toal-Lennon, Harry McNulty, Tom Daly 3, John O’Donnell, Alex Wootton 2; Cons: Billy Dardis 2, Steve Toal-Lennon 2
IRELAND: Dan Goggin, Harry McNulty, Ian Fitzpatrick, Josh Rowland, Billy Dardis, Tom Daly (capt), Alex Wootton.
Subs: John O’Donnell, Luke O’Dea, Adam Byrne, Steve Toal-Lennon, Mick McGrath.
IRELAND 33 ISRAEL 5, RC Slavia Praha
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Mick McGrath 3, John O’Donnell, Luke O’Dea; Cons: Tom Daly, Steve Toal-Lennon 3
IRELAND: Harry McNulty, Luke O’Dea, Adam Byrne, Ian Fitzpatrick, Steve Toal-Lennon, Tom Daly, Mick McGrath (capt).
Subs: John O’Donnell, Dan Goggin, Josh Rowland, Billy Dardis, Alex Wootton.
Sunday, July 3 –
IRELAND v Cyprus, 10am local time/9am Irish time
Sweden v Latvia
Ukraine v Israel
Romania v Denmark