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Conroy Cuts Loose With Hat-Trick As Ireland See Off Kenya

Conroy Cuts Loose With Hat-Trick As Ireland See Off Kenya

Jordan Conroy’s dazzling hat-trick in the space of seven minutes saw Ireland take the scalp of World Series regulars Kenya and advance to the Challenge semi-finals at the Rugby World Cup Sevens.

MEN’S RUGBY WORLD CUP SEVENS – CHALLENGE QUARTER-FINAL: Saturday, July 21

KENYA 14 IRELAND 24, AT&T Park, San Francisco
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Hugo Keenan, Jordan Conroy 3; Cons: Billy Dardis 2

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Starved of scoring opportunities on day one, Jordan Conroy opened his account as a first half replacement against Kenya and added two jet-heeled long-range scores, including an electric 14th-minute match winner, as Ireland got back to winning ways.

Hugo Keenan, who notched the opening try, Harry McNulty, John O’Donnell and Terry Kennedy also played leading roles in Ireland’s best all-round performance of the tournament so far. Stan McDowell’s men advance to meet familiar rivals Wales in a mouth-watering Challenge semi-final tomorrow at 11.34am local time/7.34pm Irish time (live on eir Sport 1/live streaming via www.rwcsevens.com (in certain countries)/highlights on ITV 4)

Ireland converted their early possession against Kenya into points, with Keenan winning captain Billy Dardis’ kick-off and then bursting onto Kennedy’s inviting short pass to run in the opening try in the second minute, converted by Dardis.

They made the Kenyans, who were World Cup semi-finalists in 2009 and 2013, pay for missing touch from a penalty and successfully defended a kick over the top, before Jimmy O’Brien and Kennedy carried well again, using the stutter-step to good effect.

Kennedy was isolated on the deck and gave away a penalty, but McNulty returned the favour by winning a penalty at the breakdown and he popped up moments to deliver a classy looping pass out for Conroy to score from close range with his first touch of the game.

However, the pace and power of the Kenyans, who were eighth in the recent World Series, was in full effect as they reduced the arrears to 12-7 with a try past the half-time hooter. Collins Injera showed his experience to evade two onrushing defenders and link with Willy Ambaka who shrugged off Conroy on the 10-metre line to gallop clear.

Conroy got his own back with a tremendous try within 20 seconds of the restart. McNulty was in the right place to gobble up the breaking ball and release the Tullamore man from 60 metres out, and his in-and-out run took him past the covering Eden Agero to score wide on the right.

Dardis nailed the conversion to boot, restoring the 12-point margin, but Kenya answered back on the 10-minute mark with deftly delayed passes from Agero and Injera opening up a way through for Ambaka who completed his brace behind the posts.

It was all to play for at 19-14 and both sides in search of the game’s decisive try, O’Donnell going closest for Ireland before replacement Foster Horan and Dardis needed to make vital tackles to prevent a breakout from the strongly-built African outfit.

Kenya’s fifth handling error of the contest, coupled with a high tackle on Conroy, handed possession back to Ireland closing in on the final hooter. From the lineout just inside the Kenyan half, the ball was swept across to Conroy who had too much pace for two covering defenders, including the despairing dive of Nelson Oyoo. The 16th seeds are now set to finish at least 12th overall.

Speaking in the aftermath of the four-try triumph, Buccaneers flyer Conroy said: “We wanted to give a good performance today after last night. We were disappointed with the result (45-7) against South Africa, so today we wanted to come out and put in a good shift, and we came out and did that and we’re pretty pleased with ourselves.

“(The approach) was just stick to our tactics and structures, control the possession, control the game. If we do that, the attack will sort out itself and there’s a big emphasis on defence as well. We came in with a good mental attitude and as you’ve seen out there, it worked for us.”

Commenting on the support behind Ireland during their matches, he added: “The fans are absolutely amazing – they bring a great atmosphere to the game. It’s just good to have so much support in the stands. It kinda drives us on into competition to play well for us and play well for them after them all coming to see us, so we want to put a show on for them. We appreciate it a lot.”

TIME LINE: 2 minutes – Ireland try: Hugo Keenan – 0-5; conversion: Billy Dardis – 0-7; 7 mins – Ireland try: Jordan Conroy – 0-12; conversion: missed by Billy Dardis – 0-12; 7+1 mins – Kenya try: Willy Ambaka – 5-12; conversion: Eden Agero – 7-12; Half-time – Kenya 7 Ireland 12; 8 mins – Ireland try: Jordan Conroy – 7-17; conversion: Billy Dardis – 7-19; 10 mins – Kenya try: Willy Ambaka – 12-19; conversion: Eden Agero – 14-19; 14 mins – Ireland try: Jordan Conroy – 14-24; conversion: missed by Billy Dardis – 14-24; Full-time – Kenya 14 Ireland 24

Team: Harry McNulty, Ian Fitzpatrick, John O’Donnell, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Keenan, Jimmy O’Brien, Terry Kennedy.

Subs used: Jordan Conroy, Foster Horan, Shane Daly. Not used: Greg O’Shea.

Follow the Ireland Women’s and Men’s Sevens teams 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 (2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens, AT&T Park, San Francisco, USA, Friday, July 20-Sunday, July 22):

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

IRELAND MEN’S RWC SEVENS Results/Fixtures –

Friday, July 20:

Pre-Round of 16: Ireland 17 Chile 12, AT&T Park, San Francisco
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Hugo Keenan, Billy Dardis, Jimmy O’Brien; Con: Billy Dardis

Match Report: Ireland Men Leave It Late As O’Brien Try Knocks Out Chile

Team: Shane Daly, John O’Donnell, Harry McNulty, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Keenan, Bryan Mollen, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Jimmy O’Brien, Terry Kennedy, Ian Fitzpatrick. Not used: Foster Horan, Greg O’Shea.

Round of 16: South Africa 45 Ireland 7, AT&T Park, San Francisco
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Terry Kennedy; Con: Hugo Keenan

Match Report: Kenya Next Up For Ireland Men Following Heavy Loss To Blitzboks

Team: Foster Horan, Harry McNulty, John O’Donnell, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Keenan, Jimmy O’Brien, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Terry Kennedy, Ian Fitzpatrick, Shane Daly, Greg O’Shea.

Saturday, July 21:

Challenge Quarter-Final: Kenya 14 Ireland 24, AT&T Park, San Francisco
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Hugo Keenan, Jordan Conroy 3; Cons: Billy Dardis 2

Team: Harry McNulty, Ian Fitzpatrick, John O’Donnell, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Keenan, Jimmy O’Brien, Terry Kennedy.

Subs used: Jordan Conroy, Foster Horan, Shane Daly. Not used: Greg O’Shea.

Sunday, July 22:

Challenge Semi-Final: Ireland v Wales, AT&T Park, San Francisco, 11.34am local time/7.34pm Irish time

More details on the Rugby World Cup Sevens are available here. Tickets are available to purchase here via the tournament website. There are single-day tickets in all seating categories and three-day tickets.