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Ireland Men Boost Olympic Hopes With Fourth Place Finish

Ireland Men Boost Olympic Hopes With Fourth Place Finish

Ireland Men Boost Olympic Hopes With Fourth Place Finish

20-year-old flyer Dylan O'Grady impressed with a four-try haul at the HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver ©INPHO/Travis Prior

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team (sponsored by TritonLake) picked up 15 valuable points for their fourth place finish at the HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver.

While disappointed to lose to eventual champions Argentina (14-7) and end the tournament with a 20-5 Bronze final defeat to Australia, James Topping’s side have moved up to eighth in the World Series standings and closed the gap on fourth-placed Fiji from 16 to 11 points.

Jordan Conroy and 20-year-old UCD winger Dylan O’Grady led the try-scoring with five and four tries respectively. Conroy and Andrew Smith both unfortunately missed the Australia game through injury.

The World Series’ top four finishers will automatically qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games, so Ireland (83 points) will be aiming for a strong finish to the season with South Africa and Samoa (both 89), and Australia and Fiji (both 94), in their sights.

This was the Ireland Men’s best World Series performance since their silver medal win in Dubai in December. With four tournaments remaining and plenty of points still up for grabs, the action will continue in Hong Kong at the end of the month.

Some thrilling clashes await at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens as Ireland have been drawn in a heavyweight Pool D along with World Series leaders New Zealand, Kenya, and South Africa.

Renewing rivalries with Argentina in the Cup semi-final in Vancouver, a couple of early turnovers gave los Pumas the first sight of the try-line. Hugo Lennox and Matt McDonald got in at the breakdown to win a clearing penalty.

Ireland enjoyed some possession in their own half before O’Grady picked from a ruck on the 10-metre line, accelerating in between German Schulz and Joaquin Pellandini to burst clear and score his fourth try of the tournament, converted by Lennox.

There was little between the teams, the breakdown hotly contested and Argentina won two penalties on their way to drawing level just on half-time. Captain Matias Osadczuk crashed over for a converted score despite the best efforts of Lennox and O’Grady to deny him.

An early Luciano Gonzalez surge, on the restart, was thwarted by Conroy’s tackle and Mark Roche swallowing up his attempted offload. Again though, Argentina continue to hunt for turnover penalties and were rewarded.

Osadczuk won possession back for his side, the ever-dangerous Marcos Moneta breaking past McDonald and offloading out of a tackle from Harry McNulty for Rodrigo Isgro to raid in behind the posts.

Pellandini’s second successful conversion left Ireland with seven points to make up, their hopes also hit by Conroy hobbling off after Smith had suffered a game-ending ‘stinger’ during the first half.

The fleet-footed O’Grady increased his threat with some sharp running on the right, and although Ireland twice made it back into the Argentinian 22 during the final minutes, the defence held them at bay.

The men in green felt aggrieved when a crucial penalty went Argentina’s way, Isgro getting the decision from referee Luciano Gonzalez despite having hands on the ground first. A further penalty off a scrum confirmed their victory.

Australia’s defence was key to their Bronze medal success, with Henry Paterson capitalising on a Jack Kelly knock-on to open the scoring in the second minute, slipping past Bryan Mollen and Lennox on his way to the line.

However, the pair were central to Ireland’s levelling try from 80 metres out, Mollen’s counter-rucking forcing possession loose at an Australian ruck and Lennox scooped it up to connect with O’Grady.

He sent Billy Dardis darting up to halfway, the former captain floating a pass out to the right for Niall Comerford to gather and embark on a 45-metre run-in. The conversion from Dardis cannoned back off the near right hand post.

Crucially, an initial knock-on and then a couple of missed tackles allowed the in-form Darby Lancaster to wrestle back the lead for Australia, making it 10-5 at the break.

O’Grady was almost away early in the second period, having been first receiver off a scrum. Maurice Longbottom’s 10th-minute try was a killer blow, though, as his quick reactions turned a grounded offload into a lung-busting breakaway effort.

Midway through the second half, Hayden Sargeant won a penalty at the breakdown just five metres out from the opposition line. Two quick passes later, a tired Irish defence watched Lawson register the clinching try in the right corner.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC Canada Sevens, BC Place, Vancouver, Canada, March 3-5, 2023):

Niall Comerford (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College RFC)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Matt McDonald (IQ Rugby)
Tom Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC) (capt)
Bryan Mollen (UCD FC)
Dylan O’Grady (UCD RFC)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC/Leinster)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Schedule – HSBC Canada Sevens:

Friday, March 3 –


Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy, Hugo Lennox, Andrew Smith 2, Dylan O’Grady; Cons: Mark Roche 4, Billy Dardis
Canada: Try: Kalin Sager
HT: Ireland 21 Canada 0

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Jack Kelly, Tom Roche, Mark Roche, Hugo Lennox, Andrew Smith, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Niall Comerford, Bryan Mollen, Zac Ward, Billy Dardis, Dylan O’Grady.

Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Bryan Mollen, Mark Roche, Dylan O’Grady 2, Jordan Conroy 2, Tom Roche, Zac Ward; Cons: Mark Roche 3, Billy Dardis 2
Chile: Try: Diego Greiber; Con: Luca Strabucchi
HT: Ireland 26 Chile 0

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Jack Kelly, Matt McDonald, Mark Roche, Bryan Mollen, Andrew Smith, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Billy Dardis, Zac Ward, Hugo Lennox, Jordan Conroy, Tom Roche.

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland Men Kick Off Canada Sevens In High-Scoring Form

Saturday, March 4 –


Scorers: Australia: Tries: Darby Lancaster, Dally Bird, Henry Paterson; Cons: Maurice Longbottom 3
Ireland: Try: Jordan Conroy; Con: Billy Dardis
HT: Australia 7 Ireland 0

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Mark Roche, Hugo Lennox, Andrew Smith, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Jordan Conroy, Jack Kelly, Billy Dardis, Bryan Mollen, Matt McDonald.


IRELAND 15 USA 10 (after extra-time), BC Place
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jack Kelly, Jordan Conroy, Zac Ward
USA: Tries: Perry Baker, Malacchi Esdale
HT: Ireland 5 USA 5

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Jack Kelly, Tom Roche, Mark Roche, Bryan Mollen, Andrew Smith, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Hugo Lennox, Niall Comerford, Billy Dardis, Dylan O’Grady, Zac Ward.

Day 2 Round-Up: Ireland Men Go Extra Mile To Reach Vancouver’s Last-Four

Watch The Cup Quarter-Final: Ireland v USA

Sunday, March 5 –


Scorers: Argentina: Tries: Matias Osadczuk, Rodrigo Isgro; Cons: Joaquin Pellandini 2
Ireland: Try: Dylan O’Grady; Con: Hugo Lennox
HT: Argentina 7 Ireland 7

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Zac Ward, Matt McDonald, Mark Roche, Hugo Lennox, Andrew Smith, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Jordan Conroy, Bryan Mollen, Jack Kelly, Tom Roche. Not used: Billy Dardis.

Watch The Cup Semi-Final: Argentina v Ireland


Scorers: Ireland: Try: Niall Comerford
Australia: Tries: Henry Paterson, Darby Lancaster, Maurice Longbottom, Nathan Lawson
HT: Ireland 5 Australia 10

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Jack Kelly, Niall Comerford, Billy Dardis, Hugo Lennox, Bryan Mollen, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Tom Roche, Zac Ward, Mark Roche, Matt McDonald.

Watch The Bronze Final: Ireland v Australia