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Debuts For O’Sullivan And Galvin As Ireland Men Begin Toulouse Campaign

Debuts For O’Sullivan And Galvin As Ireland Men Begin Toulouse Campaign

Debuts For O’Sullivan And Galvin As Ireland Men Begin Toulouse Campaign

World Series debutant Sean Galvin points the way as Liam McNamara runs in Ireland's try against Australia in Toulouse ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

The Ireland Men (sponsored by TritonLake) edged out Samoa and suffered a tight defeat to Australia on the opening day of the HSBC France Sevens in Toulouse.

Liam McNamara’s first half try had Ireland in a winning position against his native Australia, but they lost out 12-5 due to scores at key stages from Henry Paterson (10 minutes) and Nick Malouf (14).

In their first Pool D game at Stade Ernest Wallon, James Topping’s men had worn down Samoa’s defence for captain Harry McNulty to score the winning try in a dramatic late 14-12 triumph.

Mark Roche added the all-important conversion, while former skipper Billy Dardis had earlier made a try-scoring return to World Series action after missing last month’s leg in Singapore.

Connor O’Sullivan and Sean Galvin, two regular starters for Lansdowne in the Energia All-Ireland League, made their HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series debuts. O’Sullivan is the latest IQ Rugby player to wear the Ireland Sevens jersey.

Ireland currently sit ninth in the World Series standings and will be hoping for positive performances in Toulouse and next week in London as they build towards June’s European Games in Krakow, where a place at the Olympics will be up for grabs for the winning team.

Topping’s charges failed to convert some early opportunities against Samoa, Jordan Conroy’s well-weighted kick through being chased down by Sean Cribbin who forced a five-metre lineout which was stolen.

The Samoans also scrambled back to thwart a break from McNulty, who showed his defensive smarts midway through the first half when hauling down Neueli Leitufia to force a knock-on.

After some lung-busting phases, a McNulty turnover led to a quickly-taken penalty. Niall Comerford’s pass over the top allowed Cribbin to break into space and offload out of a tackle for Dardis to touch down and convert.

However, Samoa levelled matters while McNulty was in the sin bin for what was deemed a late tackle on Vaa Apelu Maliko. The elusive Paul Scanlan sliced in between Comerford and Conroy to make it seven-all.

The Samoans dominated possession early in the second half, keeping the ball in play and McNulty off the pitch. Scanlan provided the assist for Faafoi Falaniko’s lead score, but Leitufia missed the conversion from out wide.

Although that left the door ajar for Ireland at 12-5 down, time was ticking away and Samoa were commanding the territory. Co-captain Apelu Maliko threatened from a kick through with three minutes remaining.

Andrew Smith came on to make some important tackles, combining with Conroy to do just enough to prevent Apelu Maliko from scoring in the left corner. The TMO decision adjudged that he had narrowly lost control of the ball.

Samoa kicked the ball away inside the final seconds, allowing replacement McNamara to retrieve it, and O’Sullivan and Conroy both gained ground as Ireland advanced while playing with a penalty advantage.

Smith’s incisive run off a ruck drew his side deep inside the Samoan 22 before Roche sent the onrushing McNulty powering in under the posts, past Taunuu Niulevaea’s tackle. Roche’s conversion split the sides in the breathless finish.

Galvin and Smith spearheaded an early break for Ireland against Australia, with the 22-year-old O’Sullivan also prominent, before Smith was penalised for not releasing the ball after being tackled.

As the rain came down, two well-won Jack Kelly turnover penalties saw Ireland come through Smith’s fourth-minute sin-binning unscathed. He was given a yellow for a deliberate knock-on.

McNulty freed up scrappy lineout ball, releasing Kelly and the returning Smith, the latter charging past halfway and drawing in defenders before sending McNamara clear for a 40-metre run-in. Roche slid the conversion wide.

It remained 5-0 despite a helter-skelter finish to the first half, Smith having success in going the direct route before Nathan Lawson mistimed his attempt to dribble through from an initial Maurice Longbottom kick.

There was little between the teams early in the second period, with Bryan Mollen tackling Nathan Sargeant into touch, and Smith and Lawson both won penalty decisions at the breakdown.

One missed tackle is all it took for Australia to nip ahead, Paterson getting away from Kelly for an impressive try-scoring run from just outside his own 22. Longbottom’s right boot made it 7-5.

Zac Ward and Lawson traded turnover penalties before some patient build-up play ended with Australian captain Malouf touching down in the corner from a well-timed Paterson offload.

The victors did end the game with six men following Matthew Gonzalez’s sin-binning for delaying an Irish penalty. Ireland attacked off a scrum inside their own 22, but a penalty for crossing prevented Conroy from accelerating downfield.

You can watch all the action on the World Rugby Sevens Series website and app, while there will be live updates throughout the weekend on the Irish Rugby Twitter and Instagram pages.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC France Sevens, Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse, Friday, May 12-Sunday, May 14, 2023):

Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Niall Comerford (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College RFC)
Sean Galvin (Lansdowne FC)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Connor O’Sullivan (Lansdowne FC/IQ Rugby)
Liam McNamara (IQ Rugby)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC) (capt)
Bryan Mollen (UCD RFC)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC/Leinster)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Schedule – HSBC France Sevens:

Friday, May 12 –


SAMOA 12 IRELAND 14, Stade Ernest Wallon
Scorers: Samoa: Tries: Paul Scanlan, Faafoi Falaniko; Con: Neueli Leitufia
Ireland: Tries: Billy Dardis, Harry McNulty; Cons: Billy Dardis, Mark Roche
HT: Samoa 7 Ireland 7

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Billy Dardis, Sean Cribbin, Bryan Mollen, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Jack Kelly, Andrew Smith, Liam McNamara, Connor O’Sullivan, Mark Roche.

AUSTRALIA 12 IRELAND 5, Stade Ernest Wallon
Scorers: Australia: Tries: Henry Paterson, Nick Malouf; Con: Maurice Longbottom
Ireland: Try: Liam McNamara
HT: Australia 0 Ireland 5

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Connor O’Sullivan, Jack Kelly, Mark Roche, Liam McNamara, Andrew Smith, Sean Galvin.

Subs used: Sean Cribbin, Jordan Conroy, Zac Ward, Billy Dardis, Bryan Mollen.

Saturday, May 13 –


JAPAN v IRELAND, Stade Ernest Wallon, 11.37am local time/10.37am Irish time


Sunday, May 14 –