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Ireland Men Take Home Singapore Silver And Finish As League Runners-Up

Ireland Men Take Home Singapore Silver And Finish As League Runners-Up

Ireland Men Take Home Singapore Silver And Finish As League Runners-Up

Ireland captain Harry McNulty breaks through to score during the second half of the Singapore Sevens Cup final against New Zealand ©INPHO/Joe Hamby

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team (sponsored by TritonLake) came out on the wrong side of a 17-14 scoreline, as their Singapore Sevens title hopes were dashed by New Zealand in a blockbuster final.

James Topping’s resilient side ate their way into a 12-point deficit, with Gavin Mullin scoring just before half-time, and captain Harry McNulty cleverly adding a second try with less than three minutes remaining.

However, with just three points in it and Ireland pushing hard from a couple of late attacks, Tone Ng Shiu won a crucial turnover penalty to seal back-to-back tournament wins for New Zealand.

It was a bitterly disappointing finish for McNulty and his team-mates, losing just their third ever HSBC SVNS Series Cup final – they also played in the 2022 deciders in Toulouse and Dubai – and coming just a try short of an elusive first gold on the circuit.

Nonetheless, Ireland can still take plenty out of their weekend in the Lion City, as Billy Dardis’ extra-time penalty ended a run of four semi-final defeats this season, Shannon’s Josh Costello made his debut, and they added silver to their trio of bronzes won since January.

Topping’s charges accumulated an impressive 104 points across the regular season, earning their highest ever finishing position of second in the standings. They were pipped to the post by Argentina, who won their maiden SVNS Series League title with 106 points.

Buoyed by their back-to-back medal-winning performances, especially with the Olympics drawing ever closer, Ireland will switch focus to the eight-team Grand Final in Madrid (May 31-June 2), where the race to be crowned HSBC SVNS champions concludes.

Ireland got off to a flying start in their Cup semi-final against Great Britain, with Aaron O’Sullivan carrying hard from deep, and Terry Kennedy’s kick almost creating a try for Jordan Conroy. Kaleem Barreto stopped him just short, but Max McFarland saw yellow for going offside.

Having gone to the edges to stretch the six-man GB defence, offloads from Conroy and McNulty on the right wing played in Connor O’Sullivan for the opening score, which Mark Roche converted.

Britain played keep-ball before McFarland’s return, by which stage Aaron O’Sullivan had been sin-binned for his stray hand knocking the ball on as he challenged Morgan Williams on halfway.

Britain were also quick to capitalise on the yellow card, as Alex Davis backed his pace to get through a gap out wide, dragging Connor O’Sullivan with him over the try-line. Barreto pushed his conversion away to the left of the posts.

Williams came hunting for more on the same right wing, but Roche locked onto the ball to win a penalty at the breakdown. Ireland leaked four penalties of their own by half-time, yet some smart and physical defence kept their narrow lead intact – 7-5.

The GB team took the lead early on in the second half, as McFarland was first to reach skipper Robbie Fergusson’s kick through. The quick ruck ball allowed them to work it wide for replacement Charlton Kerr to cross. Barreto’s right boot made it 12-7.

Kerr soon showed his defensive skills to strip the ball away from McNulty, but Ireland still had a close-in lineout. Mullin had a cut in front of the posts, drawing in defenders, before Dardis swiftly moved the ball out for Conroy to score past McFarland.

The missed conversion from Dardis left this last-four clash tantalisingly poised at 12 points apiece. Britain had the momentum to push for a late match winner, yet Kerr, with Kennedy closing in on him, could not hold onto a pass near the right corner.

The second seeds regrouped, and despite Britain controlling possession during the early stages of extra-time, Ireland’s determined defence forced them backwards. Will Homer was then guilty of playing the ball on the ground, allowing Dardis to split the posts with his decisive drop kick.

New Zealand showed their vast experience of previous Cup finals on the circuit – 110 in all – by seizing the early initiative. Leroy Carter stole a march around the side of a ruck, with his brilliant blindside break from his own half delivering a first-minute try.

The sight of Conroy limping following a furiously-contested phase off the restart was a concern. Andrew Knewstubb forced the ball loose from Mullin for a scrum, from which the All Blacks Sevens built for try number two.

Fehi Fineanganofo was tackled by Chay Mullins but a quick release and regather saw him raid in behind the posts, with Knewstubb’s conversion making it 12-0. There was no panic in the Irish ranks, though, and they crucially got off the mark by half-time.

Mullins raised the decibel level in the stands with a barnstorming carry up to halfway, with Jack Kelly and Conroy, who still looked hampered by that knock, advancing them further downfield.

Attacking infield off a scrum inside the New Zealand 22, Kennedy ran hard, sucked in two defenders and offloaded for Mullin to score from the bouncing pass, eight metres out. Dardis converted to leave five points in it at the interval.

A couple of penalties, early in the second period, gave New Zealand the attacking platform. Replacement Aaron O’Sullivan produced a try-saving tackle on Fineanganofo, but just metres out, Dylan Collier managed to slip through from the ruck and score.

After Knewstubb slid the conversion wide, Ireland had to scramble for clean ball from the restart. Conroy launched a kick chase, and the fresh legs of Roche were first on the scene to win a penalty from Tepaea Cook-Savage, and take it quickly.

Kennedy injected more pace, flicking a terrific offload out the back to Kelly. Aaron O’Sullivan did well to gather the latter’s offload following an initial juggle, and Mullin fed McNulty who outfoxed two defenders with a slick show-and-go to dive in behind the posts.

With Roche’s straightforward conversion narrowing the gap to just three points, it was all on the line with just under two-and-a-half minutes remaining. Mullins returned to the pitch, replacing Conroy who had to hobble off.

Roche and McNulty connected from the restart, with the skipper soaring to retain possession in the air. Kennedy appeared to be checked slightly as he chased his own kick through, but he was then penalised for a high tackle on Cook-Savage near the New Zealand try-line.

The tension increased with Cody Vai knocking on with barely 20 seconds left on the clock. Ireland worked the scrum ball to the left and back to the right, and Connor and Aaron O’Sullivan both made inroads, only for Ng Shiu to win the race to the breakdown and not be budged.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2024 HSBC SVNS Series – Singapore Sevens, Singapore National Stadium, Friday, May 3-Sunday, May 5, 2024):

Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Josh Costello (Shannon RFC) *
Billy Dardis (Terenure College RFC)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College RFC)
Zac McConnell (Ireland Sevens)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC) (capt)
Bryan Mollen (UCD RFC)
Gavin Mullin (UCD RFC)
Chay Mullins (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht/IQ Rugby)
Aaron O’Sullivan (Blackrock College RFC)
Connor O’Sullivan (Lansdowne FC)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)

* Denotes uncapped player

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

Friday, May 3 –


IRELAND 19 GREAT BRITAIN 5, Singapore National Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Mark Roche, Gavin Mullin, Chay Mullins; Cons: Mark Roche, Billy Dardis
Great Britain: Try: Charlton Kerr
HT: Ireland 12 Great Britain 0

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Connor O’Sullivan, Aaron O’Sullivan, Mark Roche, Gavin Mullin, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.

Replacements used: Jack Kelly, Chay Mullins, Billy Dardis, Bryan Mollen, Zac McConnell.

IRELAND 7 USA 10, Singapore National Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Terry Kennedy; Con: Billy Dardis
USA: Tries: Kevon Williams, Perry Baker
HT: Ireland 7 USA 5

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Connor O’Sullivan, Aaron O’Sullivan, Billy Dardis, Bryan Mollen, Terry Kennedy, Josh Costello.

Replacements used: Jack Kelly, Jordan Conroy, Gavin Mullin, Mark Roche. Not used: Chay Mullins.

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland Men Sit Second In Singapore Sevens Pool

Saturday, May 4 –


IRELAND 19 FIJI 26, Singapore National Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Gavin Mullin, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy; Cons: Mark Roche 2
Fiji: Tries: Terio Tamani 2, Joji Nasova, Ponepati Loganimasi; Cons: Terio Tamani 2, Ponepati Loganimasi
HT: Ireland 14 Fiji 14

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Chay Mullins, Jack Kelly, Mark Roche, Gavin Mullin, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.

Replacements used: Aaron O’Sullivan, Billy Dardis, Josh Costello, Connor O’Sullivan, Zac McConnell.


ARGENTINA 5 IRELAND 21, Singapore National Stadium
Scorers: Argentina: Try: Tobias Wade
Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy, Terry Kennedy, Billy Dardis; Cons: Mark Roche 2, Billy Dardis
HT: Argentina 5 Ireland 7

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Connor O’Sullivan, Aaron O’Sullivan, Mark Roche, Bryan Mollen, Gavin Mullin, Jordan Conroy.

Replacements used: Terry Kennedy, Billy Dardis, Jack Kelly, Chay Mullins, Josh Costello.

Day 2 Round-Up: Ireland Men Pick Off Pumas To Book Singapore Semi-Final Berth

Sunday, May 5 –


GREAT BRITAIN 12 IRELAND 15 (after extra-time), Singapore National Stadium
Scorers: Great Britain: Tries: Alex Davis, Charlton Kerr; Con: Kaleem Barreto
Ireland: Tries: Connor O’Sullivan, Jordan Conroy; Con: Mark Roche; Pen: Billy Dardis
HT: Great Britain 5 Ireland 7

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Connor O’Sullivan, Aaron O’Sullivan, Mark Roche, Bryan Mollen, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.

Replacements used: Jack Kelly, Gavin Mullin, Billy Dardis, Chay Mullins. Not used: Zac McConnell.


IRELAND 14 NEW ZEALAND 17, Singapore National Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Gavin Mullin, Harry McNulty; Cons: Billy Dardis, Mark Roche
New Zealand: Tries: Leroy Carter, Fehi Fineanganofo, Dylan Collier; Con: Andrew Knewstubb
HT: Ireland 7 New Zealand 12

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Jack Kelly, Chay Mullins, Billy Dardis, Gavin Mullin, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.

Replacements used: Aaron O’Sullivan, Mark Roche, Connor O’Sullivan, Bryan Mollen. Not used: Zac McConnell.