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Late Heartbreak For Ireland In Pursuit Of Tokyo Quarter-Final

Late Heartbreak For Ireland In Pursuit Of Tokyo Quarter-Final

Gavin Mullin dejected at full-time. ©INPHO/James Crombie

Ireland Men’s Sevens secured a maiden Olympic Games victory over Kenya on Tuesday, but a late try from the African side denied Anthony Eddy‘s side a passage through to the quarter-finals in Tokyo.

Ireland needed to beat Kenya by more than seven points in their final Pool C encounter to advance through to the knockout stages as one of the two best third-placed teams, and they had put themselves in a strong position to do so through first-half tries from Hugo Lennox and Harry McNulty.

A relentless work-rate in defence had kept a powerful Kenya outfit at bay for the majority of the high-stakes showdown in Tokyo Stadium, only for Vincent Onyala to eventually break through the Ireland rearguard in the final minute to end Irish medal hopes.

It was a devastating end to the game for Ireland, with Canada progressing through to the quarter-finals on points difference. Eddy’s side go into the placing games for 9th to 12th position and face Korea at 4.30pm Tokyo time/8.30am Irish time on Tuesday.

Speaking afterwards, McNulty said: “Nobody really wanted this scenario unfortunately with the points difference. It’s disappointing. I think we really should have won that game by a whole lot more. If we had one more score on the board, or if we didn’t let them in, we would have gone through to the quarters. 

“Realistically, if we had played at our best the last two days I think we would have been well and truly in there and have a really good shot at putting ourselves up for some sort of medal. It’s just disappointing because we know we’re so much better. It’s probably one of the lesser performances of our careers. I don’t know what’s really going wrong, but we’re not firing on all cylinders. It’s just simple errors. It’s really small errors, but at this level, particularly at the Olympics, those errors will cost you.”