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Four-Try Win Sends Ireland Men Through To Semi-Final Stage

Four-Try Win Sends Ireland Men Through To Semi-Final Stage

Four-Try Win Sends Ireland Men Through To Semi-Final Stage

Ireland scrum half Mark Roche gets away from Belgium's William Van Bost during the Cup quarter-final clash in Krakow ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team (sponsored by TritonLake) booked their semi-final place at the European Games with a 26-12 victory over Belgium this evening.

Liam McNamara’s second half brace of tries saw Ireland win a hotly-contested quarter-final in Krakow, as the tournament, which doubles up as an Olympic qualifier, reaches the all-important knockout rounds.

Next up for James Topping’s charges, who had earlier topped Pool A thanks to a 19-7 triumph over Germany, is a semi-final showdown tomorrow with Portugal, the 31-5 conquerors of Georgia (1.58pm local time/12.58pm Irish time). Spain and Great Britain meet in the other semi-final.

Only the European Games champions will earn qualification for next summer’s Olympics, while the second and third place finishers will get one last chance at the global repechage next year.

Belgium seized an early lead, having won a turnover penalty and then drawn a maul infringement from Zac Ward. They converted the pressure into points when Gillian Benoy powered over from close range.

Patiently working their way downfield, Terry Kennedy and McNamara cut some nice running angles before captain Harry McNulty’s skip pass put Dylan O’Grady slicing in from the left for Ireland’s opening try.

Mark Roche converted and also added the extras to a slick Kennedy try just before half-time. McNulty’s defensive work had forced a late scrum, and the St. Mary’s College ace won the race to his own kick through from midfield.

Leading 14-7 at the break, Topping’s side pushed on to take a firmer grip on proceedings. Andrew Smith’s counter-rucking won a penalty and Belgium’s Nathan Bontems was sin-binned for interfering with the ball.

McNamara used the resulting scrum possession to shrug off Timothe Rifon’s tackle and hold off Jens Torfs to dot down under the posts. Roche converted.

Jordan Conroy entered the fray and briefly threatened on the right – his offload back inside was intercepted – but McNamara settled the issue with two minutes remaining, using his own turnover to canter over in the left corner.

However, Ireland will have been frustrated to leak a second try just before the final hooter. Missed tackles allowed Belgian captain Gaspard Lalli to finish off a well-orchestrated attack.

Giving his reaction afterwards, Kennedy said: “It was a tough one. We were pretty relieved there. I think we dug deep to get that win. Belgium are a good side, they came second in the Challenger Series which offers a chance to get promoted to the World Series.

“So we knew they were going to be really tough. Big lads, some lads that can move. It was always going to be a tough battle for us, so to come through it we’re delighted.”

He added: “(Portugal is) another tough match. We’ve played them plenty of times before. They’re going to challenge us and we’re going to have to be at our best to make sure we come through again.”

All of the European Games matches are broadcast live on rugbyeurope.tv via the Rugby Europe website – click here for more.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (European Games, Henryk Reyman Stadium, Krakow, Poland, Sunday, June 25-Tuesday, June 27, 2023):

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

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Schedule – European Games:

Sunday, June 25 –


IRELAND 66 POLAND 0, Henryk Reyman Stadium, Krakow
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Liam McNamara, Zac Ward 2, Jordan Conroy 2, Bryan Mollen 2, Andrew Smith, Niall Comerford, Jack Kelly; Cons: Billy Dardis 7, Mark Roche
Poland: –
HT: Ireland 26 Poland 0

Team: Jack Kelly, Andrew Smith, Zac Ward, Billy Dardis, Sean Cribbin, Liam McNamara, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Harry McNulty (capt), Bryan Mollen, Niall Comerford, Dylan O’Grady, Mark Roche.

IRELAND 38 ITALY 7, Henryk Reyman Stadium, Krakow
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Terry Kennedy 2, Liam McNamara, Harry McNulty, Dylan O’Grady, Andrew Smith; Cons: Mark Roche 2, Billy Dardis 2
Italy: Try: Cristian Lai; Con: Alessandro Fusco
HT: Ireland 17 Italy 7

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Mark Roche, Liam McNamara, Terry Kennedy, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Billy Dardis, Sean Cribbin, Andrew Smith, Bryan Mollen. Not used: Jordan Conroy.

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland Men Begin Olympic Qualifier With Brace Of Wins

Monday, June 26 –


IRELAND 19 GERMANY 7, Henryk Reyman Stadium, Krakow
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jack Kelly, Jordan Conroy, Andrew Smith; Cons: Billy Dardis 2
Germany: Try: Nikolai Klewinghaus; Con: Nikolai Klewinghaus
HT: Ireland 5 Germany 7

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

Subs used: Billy Dardis, Terry Kennedy, Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Dylan O’Grady.

Day 2 Round-Up: Ireland Men To Play Belgium In Olympic Qualifier’s Last-Eight


IRELAND 26 BELGIUM 12, Henryk Reyman Stadium, Krakow
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Dylan O’Grady, Terry Kennedy, Liam McNamara 2; Cons: Mark Roche 2
Belgium: Tries: Gillian Benoy, Gaspard Lalli; Con: Matias Remue
HT: Ireland 14 Belgium 7

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Mark Roche, Liam McNamara, Terry Kennedy, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Andrew Smith, Jordan Conroy, Jack Kelly, Bryan Mollen, Sean Cribbin.

Day 2 Reaction: Conroy And Kennedy Aiming To Hit Top Gear On Crucial Final Day

Tuesday, June 27 –


IRELAND v PORTUGAL, Henryk Reyman Stadium, Krakow, kick-off 1.58pm local time/12.58pm Irish time