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Ireland Men To Face Fiji In Dubai Quarter-Final Clash

Ireland Men To Face Fiji In Dubai Quarter-Final Clash

Ireland Men To Face Fiji In Dubai Quarter-Final Clash

Captain Harry McNulty is pictured in action against Australia during his 50th tournament for the Ireland Men's Sevens team ©INPHO/Martin Seras Limas

On the day that captain Harry McNulty reached the 50-cap milestone, the Ireland Men’s Sevens team (sponsored by TritonLake) made it through to the Cup quarter-final stage at the opening HSBC SVNS Series event in Dubai.

Ireland finished as Pool B runners-up behind Argentina, kicking off the new campaign with wins over Australia (19-12) and Spain (35-10) before losing by a 10-point margin to the Luciano Gonzalez-inspired Pumas 7s.

Terry Kennedy marked his return to the squad on a full-time basis with four tries, including a sharply-finished hat-trick against Spain. Strong-carrying forward Zac Ward chipped in with two scores in the first two rounds.

Fiji stand between James Topping’s men and a place in the semi-finals. The teams will meet at 11.20am local time/7.20am Irish time, with the Fijians having finished second in Pool C after losing 24-0 to Great Britain in their last game.

Ireland will be hoping to repeat their 21-12 victory over the double Olympic champions from the 2022 Singapore Sevens. You can watch all the action for free on RugbyPass TV, and there will be news and social media updates in our new Ireland Sevens hub at irishrugby.ie/ireland7s.

Wearing their all-white alternate kit against Australia, Ireland fell behind to a second-minute try from Matthew Gonzalez who timed his run perfectly to collect an offload that bounced up and scamper clear from halfway.

Ballynahinch clubman Ward brought Ireland level just a minute later, as Kennedy ran a penalty from deep and Ward, fed on the right, shrugged off two defenders and evaded the chasing Nathan Lawson to score from 30 metres out.

Having dug deep in defence, Topping’s side were clinical in attack just before half-time. Kennedy raised the decibel level with an excellent 80-metre effort, jinking inside two defenders and accelerating clear for Billy Dardis to convert.

Jordan Conroy opened his account for the season to make it 19-7 at half-time. Australia leaked some late penalties and Ward went close before Kennedy fired out a skip pass for the Tullamore man to extend the lead in the left corner.

Defences were on top for most of the second half, although a Jack Kelly-led break had Ireland hunting down another try. Conroy was closed down on the right before Niall Comerford’s misplaced pass went into touch on the opposite wing.

Australia found enough space out wide in the 12th minute for Ben Dowling to send fellow replacement Henry Palmer over for a debut try. Nonetheless, Ireland held possession for the remainder thanks to McNulty and Shane Jennings’ efforts at the breakdown.

Buoyed by their first win over Australia since the 2022 Malaga leg, Ireland moved into the main stadium for the afternoon session. They made a strong start against Spain, leading 7-0 after two minutes thanks to a Ward try set up by offloads from Gavin Mullin and Hugo Lennox.

Juan Martinez took a return pass to close the gap to two points, but Skerries ace Lennox converted two more tries before the interval to give the men in green a 21-5 advantage.

Connacht Academy youngster Chay Mullins cut in from the left wing to break a tackle and burst clear for a 70-metre run-in, and Kennedy arced his way around Eduardo Lopez to register his 80th World Series try.

Soon after the restart, the St. Mary’s College speedster fended off both Martinez and Lopez to race clear from halfway. He completed his hat-trick in the 11th minute when crossing in the right corner via an inviting offload from McNulty.

Armed with a 35-5 lead, Ireland’s bench was emptied with Jennings showing his ability again at the breakdown. Moreno broke free for a last-minute consolation score for los Leones.

Speaking after his three-try performance in the desert heat, Kennedy said: “I’ll never really complain about playing in this type of weather. It’s great, it makes it a lot tougher but it is great to be out here.

“I was working full-time down there (in Sydney). Obviously keeping up training and trying to keep my fitness up because I knew I was coming back.

“I’ve been back six months now so it seems like a long time building into this Dubai tournament. A long pre-season, but delighted that we’re finally here now.”

Ireland closed out the pool stages with a 17-7 defeat to Argentina, last season’s World Series silver medallists. Mullin reduced the arrears to three points just after the break, but Marcos Moneta produced the match winner in the 11th minute.

Gonzalez converted some early pressure with an unconverted score in the left corner, and despite a well-won turnover from Comerford, Ireland were unable to build from deep.

Having counter-rucked to win a penalty, los Pumas attacked hard off the resulting scrum inside the Irish 22 and Gonzalez was unstoppable from 10 metres out. Joaquin Pellandini swept the conversion wide at 10-0.

Conroy and Jennings both made good ground as Ireland improved nearing half-time. The try they craved came when Comerford sent Mullin in behind the posts just 40 seconds after the restart.

It all started with a surging break from McNulty from inside his own half, the freshly-introduced Kennedy added pace to the move and Jennings carried deep into Argentina’s 22 before Comerford put the try scorer through a gap.

Following Mark Roche’s conversion, Moneta increased his influence with a trademark chip and chase. Ireland coughed up a penalty and off the back of a midfield scrum, the 23-year-old flyer got outside Conroy to land the decisive blow.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC SVNS Series – Emirates Dubai 7s, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai, Saturday, December 2-Sunday, December 3, 2023):

Niall Comerford (UCD RFC)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College RFC)
Shane Jennings (Buccaneers RFC/Connacht)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College RFC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC) (capt)
Gavin Mullin (UCD RFC)
Chay Mullins (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht/IQ Rugby)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Schedule – HSBC SVNS Series – Dubai:

Saturday, December 2 –


AUSTRALIA 12 IRELAND 19, The Sevens Stadium Pitch 2
Scorers: Australia: Tries: Matthew Gonzalez, Henry Palmer; Con: Dietrich Roache
Ireland: Tries: Zac Ward, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy; Cons: Billy Dardis 2
HT: Australia 7 Ireland 19

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

Replacements used: Chay Mullins, Gavin Mullin, Shane Jennings, Jack Kelly, Mark Roche.

IRELAND 35 SPAIN 10, The Sevens Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Zac Ward, Chay Mullins, Terry Kennedy 3; Cons: Hugo Lennox 4, Billy Dardis
Spain: Tries: Juan Martinez, Manu Moreno
HT: Ireland 21 Spain 5

Team: Jack Kelly, Zac Ward, Harry McNulty (capt), Hugo Lennox, Gavin Mullin, Terry Kennedy, Chay Mullins.

Replacements used: Billy Dardis, Sean Cribbin, Niall Comerford, Shane Jennings, Jordan Conroy.

ARGENTINA 17 IRELAND 7, The Sevens Stadium
Scorers: Argentina: Tries: Luciano Gonzalez 2, Marcos Moneta; Con: Luciano Gonzalez
Ireland: Try: Gavin Mullin; Con: Mark Roche
HT: Argentina 10 Ireland 0

Team: Shane Jennings, Niall Comerford, Harry McNulty (capt), Mark Roche, Gavin Mullin, Chay Mullins, Jordan Conroy.

Replacements used: Terry Kennedy, Jack Kelly, Hugo Lennox, Billy Dardis, Zac Ward.

Sunday, December 3 –


IRELAND v FIJI, The Sevens Stadium, 11.20am local time/7.20am Irish time