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Ireland Men Set For Winner-Takes-All Clash With Britain

Ireland Men Set For Winner-Takes-All Clash With Britain

Ireland Men Set For Winner-Takes-All Clash With Britain

Billy Dardis scored two first half tries as the Ireland Men advanced to the European Games final in Krakow ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team (sponsored by TritonLake) are one win away from qualifying for the Olympics after reaching the final of the European Games in Krakow.

A Billy Dardis first half brace was followed by tries from Zac Ward and Jordan Conroy, as Ireland overcame semi-final opponents Portugal 24-0 with a strong collective performance.

A mouth-watering encounter awaits in tonight’s final with James Topping’s men facing familiar rivals Great Britain, who got the better of Spain on a 19-7 scoreline. The gold medal match kicks off at 9.35pm local time/8.35pm Irish time.

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

The team crowned European Games champions will book their ticket to Paris 2024, while the runners-up and bronze medallists will get one final shot at Olympic qualification via next year’s global repechage.

The Ireland Men, who warmed up for Krakow by winning the first leg of the Rugby Europe Sevens Championship Series, are chasing back-to-back Olympic qualifications having progressed to Tokyo 2020 through the repechage route.

Topping’s charges showed their ability to create chances early on against Portugal, who had reached the last-four by beating Georgia 31-5. Andrew Smith was unfortunately pulled back for a forward pass from captain Harry McNulty.

The Portuguese also denied Terry Kennedy whose cross-field runs were causing them problems. However, two converted tries during the closing three minutes of the first half gave Ireland the momentum.

Os Lobos coughed up lineout possession, with Smith able to run hard up into the opposition 22. When the men in green got within striking range, Dardis sniped over from a ruck and converted.

McNulty’s counter-rucking soon forced another turnover, and he was quickly in at a subsequent ruck to feed Dardis who used a dummy pass to get in under the posts for his second seven-pointer.

Manuel Marta threatened from a kick through, but Kennedy got back to bring him down close to the Irish posts and Marta was then penalised for playing the ball on the ground.

Leading 14-0, Ireland began the second half on the front foot with Kennedy’s fast break through the middle almost seeing him score. The quick ruck ball allowed Dardis, McNulty and Smith to work it wide for Ward to touch down.

Ireland’s counter-rucking continued to frustrate Portugal, who lost Jose Maria Aparicio to the sin bin for throwing the ball away after conceding a penalty.

Off the resulting scrum, Kennedy was released into space and he sent Conroy over untouched with three-and-a-half minutes remaining.

The Portuguese side did have more possession during the closing stages, yet Ireland’s defence was determined to keep them scoreless. A potential breakout was shut down by Jack Kelly’s tackle and McNulty swooped in to win a turnover penalty.

Speaking afterwards, McNulty said: “Semi-finals are pretty difficult games. There’s a lot of nerves going into them, a lot of prep. Anything can happen, in Rugby Europe especially. You just see teams getting beat left, right and centre.

“We just knew we had to bring our best, and one thing I asked the lads before running out was to bring themselves, and that’s all we could ask for.

“All of us collected (together) means we’re a team, and we can do our best. Fantastic result against a strong Portuguese side. We’re into the final, we’re delighted with that.

“We threw everything at them, there were some kick throughs and we chased back incredibly well. We held onto the ball for long periods of time, lots of defensive efforts as well. It’s great to have a score reflect the way that you played.”

He added: “That result has secured a global repechage spot, but we haven’t come here for that. We’ve got one more game on our plate that we need to finish.”

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

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

Tuesday, June 27 –


IRELAND 24 PORTUGAL 0, Henryk Reyman Stadium, Krakow
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Billy Dardis 2, Zac Ward, Jordan Conroy; Cons: Billy Dardis 2
Portugal: –
HT: Ireland 14 Portugal 0

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Andrew Smith, Zac Ward, Billy Dardis, Liam McNamara, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Jack Kelly, Bryan Mollen, Niall Comerford, Mark Roche, Dylan O’Grady.

Day 3 Reaction: ‘Only Our Best Will Do’ – McNulty


IRELAND v GREAT BRITAIN, Henryk Reyman Stadium, Krakow, kick-off 9.35pm local time/8.35pm Irish time