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Bronze Medal Reward For Trailblazing Ireland Sevens Side

Bronze Medal Reward For Trailblazing Ireland Sevens Side

Mark Roche coolly converted Jordan Conroy’s last-minute try to seal an outstanding 21-19 Bronze final victory for the Ireland Men’s Sevens team over hosts England at the London Sevens tournament.

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Twickenham Stadium proved a happy hunting ground for another Ireland side as Anthony Eddy’s men, having already made history by reaching the Cup quarter-finals in their very first HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series appearance, followed up by claiming the scalps of the USA and England.
 
Jordan Conroy was back to his electric best, finishing the weekend with eight tries and a coveted place on the HSBC Dream Team alongside Mark Roche and three members of Fiji’s Cup-winning side. Harry McNulty, who had a huge presence up front for Ireland, was unlucky to miss out.
 
Conroy’s blistering pace and finishing prowess helped Ireland stun the US 22-12 at the quarter-final stage, and while Olympic champions and series leaders Fiji proved too strong in a 38-12 semi-final defeat, the men in green bounced back to edge out England thanks to a memorable hat-trick from Conroy, the Buccaneers flyer who was involved with the Connacht Academy this season.


 
It took a huge squad effort for Ireland – as an invitational team – to win three of their six matches against core sides and finish third in a 16-team field of the world’s elite Sevens nations, with Lansdowne’s Foster Horan stepping up to win his first Ireland Sevens cap and 20-year-old Enniskillen native Robert Baloucoune also making an impact off the bench.
 
Marshalled by IRFU Director of Sevens Eddy, IRFU Sevens coach Stan McDowell and team manager James Topping, eight of Ireland’s 13-man London panel are aged between 20 and 23 and the future certainly looks bright for the IRFU Men’s Sevens Programme if they can secure core team status on the series via next year’s Hong Kong qualifying tournament.

First half tries from Conroy (2 minutes), John O’Donnell (4) and Hugo Keenan (6) put Ireland on course for an unforgettable 22-12 quarter-final win over a much-vaunted USA outfit in today’s morning session.
 
The fifth-ranked Americans were one of the leading teams on the opening day in London, going through the pool stages in unbeaten fashion with only Fiji eclipsing them in terms of form and the manner of their qualification for the last-eight.
 
The Rugby World Cup Sevens hosts, who won the Las Vegas title in March, are packed full of power and pace but Ireland proved more than a match for them early on. Danny ‘Boom Boom’ Barrett is the US’s physical enforcer, and although he won an initial penalty at the breakdown, McNulty and Roche combined a few phases later to bundle him into touch.


 
From the resulting lineout deep in their own 22, Ireland conjured up a scintillating converted try. Working the ball infield, Keenan danced away from a couple of tackles and linked with Jimmy O’Brien whose timely delivery invited Roche to sprint away from Barrett, reaching the American 10-metre line before supplying the final pass to Conroy who had the pace to stay clear of world-renown speedster Carlin Isles.


 
It was a huge statement of intent and they struck another blow just a couple of minutes later. Key forward McNulty forced Ben Pinkleman to fumble the restart, and following strong running by O’Brien and Ian Fitzpatrick and another US infringement, O’Donnell finished smartly in the left corner from his own quick tap.
 
12-0 turned into 17-0 by the half-time hooter, as tremendous support running from Keenan earned him a deserved try as he collected Conroy’s offload out of a tackle to go over in the right corner. O’Brien was also influential in the build-up, with some hard running at US defenders.


 
Expecting a backlash on the resumption, McNulty came to Ireland’s rescue with another textbook tackle to send the strongly-builty Barrett into touch. O’Brien also reacted quickest to cover a dangerous kick through from Folau Niua.
 
The Americans did manage to split the Irish defence to release Martin Iosefo from halfway for a ninth minute try, converted by the same player, but Ireland responded with the clinching score three minutes later.
 
Another crucial tackle by McNulty – this time preventing a potential breakout by Isles – led to replacement Horan poaching the ball at the breakdown. Playing with a penalty advantage, Ireland attacked the short side and were rewarded when O’Brien slipped through for try number four.


 
Despite Isles taking the Americans into double figures with a try from his own half with 20 seconds remaining, Ireland were out of reach and McNulty successfully took down the restart to confirm the 10-point winning margin.
 
Fiji proved a bar too far for captain Billy Dardis and his team-mates at the semi-final stage. The world’s leading exponents of the Sevens game ran in three tries in each half to register a 38-12 triumph.
 
Early nerves were evident with O’Brien knocking on, and then the Leinster Academy back could not prevent Semi Radradra from breaking up the left wing to create a first minute try for Eroni Sau. Radradra continued to impress with ball in hand, and when Ireland carried a threat in attack, the ever-industrious McNulty was unable to link with O’Donnell having broken over halfway.


 
Fiji extended their lead to 19-0 by the seven-minute mark, their captain Jerry Tuwai surging through from deep and Josua Vakurunabili touching down despite a gutsy chase from Roche, and the breaking ball from the restart evaded Ireland as Sau sauntered through for his second.
 
Vatemo Ravouvou’s sin-binning for a deliberate knock-on following a Keenan break set up a gilt-edged for Ireland just before half-time, but 24-year-old winger Conroy had a try ruled out for a forward pass.


 
Into the second period, they immediately fell further behind when star replacement Josua Tuisova had too much power as he shrugged off an attempted tackle and darted clear for Fiji’s fourth try of the game. With Ireland whistled up for another forward pass and the bounce of the ball going Fiji’s way, Waisea Nacuqu crossed in the 10th minute.
 
The Twickenham crowd showed their appreciation as Ireland rallied with two consolation tries. Keenan hoovered up possession from the restart and replacement Kennedy displayed the pace which terrorised defences in Moscow last month to race clear up the left touchline.


 
Tuisova’s turnover penalty put the wheels in motion for Nacuqu to complete his brace at 38-5, but Ireland at least had the final say as Horan and Baloucoune injected some pace into a last-minute attack up the left wing and Kennedy’s pass back inside sent Keenan over for a Dardis-converted try.
 
Conroy evaded the clutches of England dangerman Dan Norton to run in a terrific opening try in the Bronze final, taking a great line off Kennedy and crossing wide on the right with just 23 seconds on the clock.
 
Roche swung over a pinpoint conversion to make it 7-0, and Ireland kept their eighth-ranked opponents pinned back with some tigerish defending, typified by a ball-dislodging tackle from a fired-up Fitzpatrick.


 
Ground-gaining runs from Kennedy and O’Donnell kept Ireland on the front foot, and even when they were turned in defence, Kennedy was able to deny Norton from a kick through towards the Irish posts. Indeed, quick ruck ball allowed them to fashion a try from their own line as Conroy was released for a turbo-charged 95-metre run in under the posts, with Roche converting.
 
But England showed their undoubted quality to close the gap to 14-12 by half-time. Dan Bibby crossed for two tries, the first one courtesy of a slick run and offload from Ryan Olowofela and the second coming from a late bout of pressure in the Irish 22.
 
England captain Tom Mitchell struck the left-hand post with the conversion from out wide, and that proved vital in the end as Blackrock College clubman Roche managed to split the posts with all three of his kicks.
 
Into the second half, Kennedy did brilliantly to chase down Ethan Waddleton, but England capitalised on quick ruck ball as Norton jinked his way over in the left corner. Mitchell nailed the difficult conversion this time for a 19-14 turnaround.


 
Kennedy and Horan launched Ireland forward in response, finding gaps in the home defence, only for Phil Burgess to force a fumble from Fitzpatrick after the Lansdowne winger’s link-up with McNulty almost created a third try for the men in green.
 
England lost key possession when Mike Ellery was tackled into touch by Bryan Mollen with two minutes remaining, and a ruck penalty against Tom Bowen allowed Ireland to gain some precious field position with a lineout near halfway.
 
Inside the final minute, the lineout ball went to ground but Fitzpatrick gobbled it up for Ireland, setting up a sweep of passes out to the right where Keenan’s floated delivery was inch-perfect for Conroy to come onto it, beat Bowen on the outside and run in a memorable 60-metre score, spinning out of Ollie Lindsay-Haigue’s last-ditch tackle in the act of scoring.


 
The outcome rested on Roche’s pressure kick and the 25-year-old delivered the goods in nerveless fashion, dropping over a majestic skyscraper of a conversion from the left wing. Dardis’ restart was just as accurate, Keenan hunting it down and tapping it back for O’Brien to kick the ball dead and start Ireland’s medal-winning celebrations.

Eddy’s charges have a second chance to gain top tier experience as the invitational team for the final World Series tournament of the 2017/18 campaign in Paris next weekend. Click here to buy Paris Sevens tickets.

The back-to-back Moscow 7s champions will be in action in Marcoussis in France for the second round of the Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series on June 30-July 1, and the following week they compete at the third round in Exeter (July 7-8).

The Ireland Men’s and Women’s Sevens teams will both compete at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco over the weekend of July 20-22 at AT&T Park. RWC Sevens tickets are available here. The final round of the Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series takes place in Lodz, Poland on September 8-9.

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – London Sevens Results

Follow the Ireland Women’s and Men’s Sevens sides this season in our exclusive behind-the-scenes series – On The Road with the Ireland 7s.

The Ireland Sevens jerseys are available to buy online here from Elverys Intersport, official sports retailer of the IRFU.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2017/18 World Rugby Sevens Series – London Sevens, Twickenham Stadium, London, Saturday, June 2-Sunday, June 3):

Robert Baloucoune (Enniskillen/Ulster)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers)
Billy Dardis (UCD) (capt)
Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Foster Horan (Lansdowne)
Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Harry McNulty (UCD)
Bryan Mollen (Dublin University)
Jimmy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster)
John O’Donnell (Lansdowne)
Greg O’Shea (Shannon)
Mark Roche (Blackrock College)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Results:

Saturday, June 2 –

Pool B:

Australia 33 Ireland 7, Twickenham Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Jordan Conroy; Con: Mark Roche

Team: Harry McNulty, Ian Fitzpatrick, John O’Donnell, Mark Roche, Hugo Keenan, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Foster Horan, Jimmy O’Brien, Bryan Mollen, Billy Dardis (capt). Not used: Robert Baloucoune.

Spain 10 Ireland 38, Twickenham Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy 2, Jimmy O’Brien 2, Harry McNulty, Terry Kennedy; Cons: Mark Roche 4

Team: Harry McNulty, Ian Fitzpatrick, John O’Donnell, Mark Roche, Hugo Keenan, Jimmy O’Brien, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Terry Kennedy, Robert Baloucoune, Foster Horan, Billy Dardis (capt), Bryan Mollen.

Wales 21 Ireland 19, Twickenham Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy, Harry McNulty, Jimmy O’Brien; Cons: Mark Roche, Billy Dardis

Team: Harry McNulty, Ian Fitzpatrick, John O’Donnell, Mark Roche, Hugo Keenan, Jimmy O’Brien, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Terry Kennedy, Foster Horan, Billy Dardis (capt). Not used: Robert Baloucoune, Bryan Mollen.

Sunday, June 3 –

Cup Quarter-Final: USA 12 Ireland 22, Twickenham Stadium
Scorers: Ireland Tries: Jordan Conroy, John O’Donnell, Hugo Keenan, Jimmy O’Brien; Con: Mark Roche

Team: Harry McNulty, Ian Fitzpatrick, John O’Donnell, Mark Roche, Hugo Keenan, Jimmy O’Brien, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Foster Horan, Robert Baloucoune, Terry Kennedy, Foster Horan, Bryan Mollen. Not used: Billy Dardis (capt).

Cup Semi-Final: Fiji 38 Ireland 12, Twickenham Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Terry Kennedy, Hugo Keenan; Con: Billy Dardis

Team: Harry McNulty, Ian Fitzpatrick, John O’Donnell, Mark Roche, Hugo Keenan, Jimmy O’Brien, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Terry Kennedy, Foster Horan, Bryan Mollen, Billy Dardis (capt), Robert Baloucoune.

Bronze Final: Ireland 21 England 19, Twickenham Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy 3; Cons: Mark Roche 3

Team: Harry McNulty, Ian Fitzpatrick, John O’Donnell, Mark Roche, Hugo Keenan, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Foster Horan, Bryan Mollen, Jimmy O’Brien, Robert Baloucoune, Billy Dardis (capt).