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Ireland Men End World Series With Sixth Place Finish In London

Ireland Men End World Series With Sixth Place Finish In London

Ireland Men End World Series With Sixth Place Finish In London

Sean Cribbin finishes off the decisive try in Ireland's 5th place semi-final victory over Great Britain in London ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team (sponsored by TritonLake) wrapped up this season’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with back-to-back sixth place finishes.

Following on from their improved performances in Toulouse last week, Ireland were the only team to beat eventual London champions Argentina over an eventful weekend at Twickenham Stadium.

A dramatic late Sean Cribbin try saw them edge out hosts Great Britain 19-12 in a thrilling play-off clash earlier today, before their fifth place showdown with France ended in a 21-19 defeat.

A couple of the Ireland squad’s newer players grasped the opportunity to impress in London, with three tries each from Connor O’Sullivan and Dylan O’Grady, while captain Harry McNulty, Bryan Mollen and Zac Ward were also prominent.

James Topping’s men finished the season in eighth place overall, their 114-point haul – the highlight of which was last December’s Dubai silver medal – leaving them just six points behind South Africa and 14 clear of Britain.

With fifth-placed Australia (133 points) claiming the last automatic qualifying place for the Olympics, Ireland and Britain will now set their sights on the European Games in Krakow (June 25-27) as their next chance to progress to Paris 2024.

Ireland began day two by renewing rivalries with Argentina in a mouth-watering Cup quarter-final, following yesterday’s 14-12 pool win. German Schulz broke strongly off a ruck to open the scoring in the second minute.

Chay Mullins went close to an interception, but Rodrigo Isgro’s delicate grubber kick sat up nicely for Agustin Fraga to double Argentina’s lead to 14 points with four minutes on the clock.

A snappy run from Sean Galvin, coupled with a penalty, saw a territory-starved Ireland get into range late on. Mollen brilliantly slowed down an attack before capitalising on a missed tackle to raid in under the posts.

Nonetheless, a costly turnover and a subsequent penalty allowed Argentina to make it 21-7 early in the second half. Fraga completed his brace by crashing over beside the posts.

With the Pumas Sevens continuing to win the breakdown battle, replacement Mateo Graziano sliced through midfield for try number four, and Ireland could only squeeze in a late consolation score for a 28-14 defeat.

It was a well-constructed effort from deep, Mollen’s counter-ruck allowing O’Grady to snatch turnover ball. O’Sullivan broke past halfway and despite being hauled down by Tomas Elizalde, he got the ball away for O’Grady to finish from 10 metres out.

Ireland’s aggression in defence paid dividends early on against Britain. The old rivals met for a place in the fifth place play-off, with the upcoming European Games adding some extra intrigue to proceedings.

O’Grady combined with McNulty in a double tackle on Freddie Roddick, forcing a knock-on, and Hugo Lennox, starting at scrum half, showed his pace with a sharp break from the set-piece.

Britain leaked a penalty inside their own 22, and Mollen took it quickly, firing out a long, looping pass for O’Grady to cross in the right corner despite Nathan Greenwood’s last-ditch challenge.

It was a quick-fire double for the men in green, as Mollen and Lennox hounded Kaleem Barreto into a handling error. Cribbin gobbled the loose ball, passing for Lansdowne clubman O’Sullivan to power in under the posts in the fourth minute.

With Lennox’s conversion and O’Grady’s superb reeling in of Greenwood to prevent a breakaway try, Ireland took a 12-0 lead into the second half.

They were soon heading in the right direction again thanks to some crisp interplay between McNulty, Mullins and Matthew McDonald along the right touchline.

However, a vital turnover allowed Britain to hit back with a well-taken Greenwood score, converted by Roddick. McNulty was then guilty of going off his feet as an attack spearheaded by Ward and Lennox had Ireland poised to respond.

Britain regained the momentum with a series of further penalties, working the ball wide for Femi Sofolarin to make it 12-all with 30 seconds left. Crucially, Roddick missed the conversion from the left, hitting both the right hand post and the crossbar.

Breathing a big sigh of relief that they were not trailing, Ireland regrouped and took down Will Homer on halfway. Ward and Billy Dardis’ determination at the ruck allowed O’Grady to get in for the steal, setting the wheels in motion for a memorable match winner.

With pace and precise passing, O’Grady and McDonald sent Mullins breaking up into the British 22. He brought two defenders to ground as he laid off for Cribbin to cut in from the left and touch down while evading Roddick’s tackle. Dardis’ conversion sealed a thrilling seven-point triumph.

Frustratingly, in their final game of the tournament, Ireland allowed France to develop an early lead. They strung together converted tries from Rayan Rebbadj, who lunged over after William Iraguha was tackled just short, and Lerairtre Paul.

When an Irish attack broke down, the French put together a series of well-timed offloads to send Paul over in the fourth minute, but Topping’s side opened their account just before the interval.

Some excellent footwork from Galvin saw him sidestep away from three defenders inside the French 22, before setting up Mullins to score one-handed in the left corner. Lennox added a cracking conversion for a 14-7 deficit.

Mullins returned the favour in the ninth minute, sucking in two defenders and flicking a terrific offload out for Galvin to scamper over from 12 metres out. This time Lennox’s kick stayed wide.

Despite Irish protests of an extra roll in the build-up, France swept through for a third converted try, scored by captain Paulin Riva. The scoreboard now showed 21-12 with just over two minutes remaining.

Cribbin, Mullins and McDonald made some decent headway, but a late Irish score was out of reach until, fittingly, skipper McNulty found a gap and galloped clear for a 60-metre run-in with the clock in the red.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC London Sevens, Twickenham Stadium, London, Saturday, May 20-Sunday, May 21, 2023):

Harry McNulty (UCD RFC) (capt)
Chay Mullins (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht/IQ Rugby)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)
Matthew McDonald (IQ Rugby)
Niall Comerford (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Connor O’Sullivan (Lansdowne FC/IQ Rugby)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College RFC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Bryan Mollen (UCD RFC)
Gavin Mullin (UCD RFC)
Dylan O’Grady (UCD RFC)
Sean Galvin (Lansdowne FC)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Schedule – HSBC London Sevens:

Saturday, May 20 –


IRELAND 12 FIJI 33, Twickenham Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Niall Comerford, Chay Mullins; Con: Billy Dardis
Fiji: Tries: Joseva Talacolo, Filipe Sauturaga, Waisea Nacuqu, Sevuloni Mocenacagi, Viwa Naduvalo; Cons: Terio Tamani 3, Waisea Nacuqu
HT: Ireland 0 Fiji 12

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Matthew McDonald, Zac Ward, Billy Dardis, Sean Cribbin, Gavin Mullin, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Niall Comerford, Sean Galvin, Chay Mullins, Hugo Lennox, Bryan Mollen.

IRELAND 40 JAPAN 7, Twickenham Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Connor O’Sullivan 2, Sean Galvin, Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Dylan O’Grady; Cons: Hugo Lennox 4, Billy Dardis
Japan: Try: Timo Fiti Sufia; Con: Timo Fiti Sufia
HT: Ireland 21 Japan 7

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Connor O’Sullivan, Niall Comerford, Sean Galvin, Hugo Lennox, Bryan Mollen, Chay Mullins.

Subs used: Zac Ward, Billy Dardis, Matthew McDonald, Dylan O’Grady, Gavin Mullin.

ARGENTINA 12 IRELAND 14, Twickenham Stadium
Scorers: Argentina: Tries: Alejo Lavayen 2; Con: Santiago Vera Feld
Ireland: Tries: Bryan Mollen, Zac Ward; Cons: Billy Dardis 2
HT: Argentina 7 Ireland 14

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Matthew McDonald, Zac Ward, Billy Dardis, Sean Cribbin, Bryan Mollen, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Connor O’Sullivan, Hugo Lennox, Chay Mullins, Niall Comerford. Not used: Sean Galvin.

Sunday, May 21 –


ARGENTINA 28 IRELAND 14, Twickenham Stadium
Scorers: Argentina: Tries: German Schulz, Agustin Fraga 2, Mateo Graziano; Cons: Santiago Vera Feld 3, Luciano Gonzalez
Ireland: Tries: Bryan Mollen, Dylan O’Grady; Cons: Billy Dardis, Hugo Lennox
HT: Argentina 14 Ireland 7

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Billy Dardis, Bryan Mollen, Chay Mullins, Sean Galvin.

Subs used: Connor O’Sullivan, Hugo Lennox, Matthew McDonald, Dylan O’Grady. Not used: Sean Cribbin.


IRELAND 19 GREAT BRITAIN 12, Twickenham Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Dylan O’Grady, Connor O’Sullivan, Sean Cribbin; Cons: Hugo Lennox, Billy Dardis
Great Britain: Tries: Nathan Greenwood, Femi Sofolarin; Con: Freddie Roddick
HT: Ireland 12 Great Britain 0

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Connor O’Sullivan, Matthew McDonald, Hugo Lennox, Sean Cribbin, Bryan Mollen, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Chay Mullins, Zac Ward, Niall Comerford, Billy Dardis. Not used: Sean Galvin.


IRELAND 19 FRANCE 21, Twickenham Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Chay Mullins, Sean Galvin, Harry McNulty; Cons: Hugo Lennox, Billy Dardis
France: Tries: Rayan Rebbadj, Leraitre Paul, Paulin Riva; Cons: Rayan Rebbadj 3
HT: Ireland 7 France 14

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Hugo Lennox, Sean Cribbin, Chay Mullins, Sean Galvin.

Subs used: Matthew McDonald, Billy Dardis, Connor O’Sullivan, Bryan Mollen, Dylan O’Grady.