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Ireland Men Triumph In Hamburg Rain As Olympic Countdown Continues

Ireland Men Triumph In Hamburg Rain As Olympic Countdown Continues

Ireland Men Triumph In Hamburg Rain As Olympic Countdown Continues

Stand-in captain Mark Roche lifts the trophy after the Ireland Men's Hamburg Sevens final success against France ©Jürgen Kessler/Rugby Europe

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team (sponsored by TritonLake) secured the Hamburg Sevens title at the final Rugby Europe Sevens Championship leg, showing medal-winning form just over three weeks out from the Olympics.

James Topping’s charges edged out France 19-14 in a rain-hit Cup final in Hamburg, where the influential Matthew McDonald and Hugo Keenan touched down either side of half-time, and a 13th-minute penalty try proved decisive.

Eight members of the 12-player Olympic squad, and the two travelling reserves, were involved as Ireland won the last Rugby Europe Sevens Championship tournament of the summer. Scrum half Hugo Lennox was selected as the Player of the Tournament.

Captained this weekend by Mark Roche, they managed to avenge their 12-7 final defeat to France from the opening leg in Makarska, Croatia, but the French side were crowned European champions, on scoring difference across the two events.

Speaking afterwards, Lennox said: “It was a weird old weekend, it started off with a bit of sunshine and then it bucketed down like the Irish weather. But I’m honoured to receive the (Player of the Tournament) award.

“Back out playing with the brothers and getting a gold medal was great. It’s been a while since we came out first on the podium, so finishing on top makes it a really good weekend, a really memorable one.”

There was the full set of 13 different Irish try scorers across the three-day competition, with Ed Kelly, Niall Comerford, Chay Mullins, Keenan, and Lennox contributing three tries each.

In the Cup semi-final an early interception from Joao Antunes prevented Portugal from conceding a first-minute try. Jordan Conroy, who had led the Ireland team out, also knocked on when play was subsequently swept wide to the opposite right wing.

Portugal coughed up possession with a handling error, and Comerford made them pay. He reached in under the posts after Sean Cribbin and Keenan had both had a cut off the scrum inside the opposition 22.

Zac Ward continued to make metres despite being tackled, and a jinking run from Andrew Smith brought the green shirts back into the opposition 22 just before half-time. Portugal remained connected in defence, though, with only seven points in it at the turnaround.

As the rain came down, conditions became more difficult. Ireland opted for another set-piece from a scrum penalty, and having moved the ball wide to both wings, Cribbin went the direct route to crash over, doing really well to ground the ball under pressure.

Roche’s conversion put 14 points between the sides, and it was an important kick in the end as Portugal came back strongly. Ireland lost Connor O’Sullivan to the sin bin for not putting the ball down straight after a Portuguese penalty was awarded.

Portugal replacement Sebastiao Stilwell took advantage with a well-taken try, 11 minutes in. Ireland had the better of the remaining minutes, but Vasco Silva’s breakaway effort, past the final hooter, cut the winning margin to just two points (14-12).

The Cup final kicked off under a heavy rain shower, but Ireland retained the ball well through the first couple of minutes with O’Sullivan, who was heavily involved, and Mullins both advancing.

The ball squirted out of a ruck for France to launch a counter attack, and they also covered a Roche kick through that was intended for Keenan. Then, midway through the first half, they struck for the opening try.

Enahemo Artaud, their two-try hero from the Makarska final, broke from deep and offloaded for Simon Desert to charge clear for a score which Luca Mignot converted.

Ireland had to defend a couple of French attacks before McDonald landed Alexis Berot in touch with a thumping tackle. Roche took the lineout quickly, and Keenan’s raking kick had Kelly haring after it to put Desert under pressure.

The counter-rucking of Kelly and Mullins led to the former picking up turnover ball, deep inside the French 22. Kelly was hauled down a few metres short before Roche passed for McDonald who had the quick feet and power to finish off under the posts.

Roche’s levelling conversion was the final act of a rainsoaked first half, and despite his restart kick going straight into touch, Ireland soon had possession back thanks to McDonald’s well-won penalty at the breakdown.

From the resulting lineout, Mullins carried initially and then Keenan, taking off from 40 metres out, evaded Artaud’s tap tackle to raid over to the left of the posts. Roche missed the conversion on the near side, leaving it 12-7.

Nonetheless, France showed how dangerous they can be off limited possession again. Mignot injected pace into their play from a penalty, and his inside ball released Victor Hannoun to score from just outside halfway. Mignot slotted over the extras.

A bulldozing carry from Ward lifted his team-mates, with just over three minutes remaining. The greasy ball led to an exchange of knock-ons, but a short and snappy attacking spell from Ireland proved crucial to the game’s outcome.

The freshly-introduced Lennox carried twice to good effect, firstly off a scrum near halfway, and the forwards forced France further back inside their own 22.

Ward was stopped just short, but Comerford’s pass from the ruck was knocked on by Mignot’s right hand with Mullins and O’Sullivan both waiting to score, and only Hannoun near them as cover.

Mignot’s deliberate knock-on led to his sin-binning and the awarding of the penalty try, as the lead changed hands a final time. Lennox’s long restart forced France to kick back downfield, and with Mullins first to the ball, Ireland wound down the clock to seal a hard-earned victory.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2024 Rugby Europe Men’s Sevens Championship Leg 2 – Hamburg Sevens, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg, Germany, Friday, June 28-Sunday, June 30, 2024):

Niall Comerford (UCD RFC)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Hugo Keenan (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Ed Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Matthew McDonald (Ireland Sevens)
Bryan Mollen (UCD RFC)
Chay Mullins (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht/IQ Rugby)
Connor O’Sullivan (Lansdowne FC)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC) (capt)
Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC/Connacht)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Results – Hamburg Sevens, Rugby Europe Sevens Championship Leg 2:

Friday, June 28 –


IRELAND 43 CROATIA 0, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Niall Comerford, Bryan Mollen 2, Chay Mullins, Andrew Smith, Hugo Keenan, Sean Cribbin; Cons: Mark Roche 2, Sean Cribbin 2
Croatia: –
HT: Ireland 19 Croatia 0

Watch Match Replay

Team: Bryan Mollen, Niall Comerford, Matthew McDonald, Mark Roche (capt), Sean Cribbin, Chay Mullins, Jordan Conroy.

Replacements used: Hugo Keenan, Andrew Smith, Connor O’Sullivan, Ed Kelly, Zac Ward.

IRELAND 43 BELGIUM 7, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Hugo Lennox 2, Hugo Keenan, Connor O’Sullivan, Ed Kelly 2, Niall Comerford; Cons: Hugo Lennox 2, Sean Cribbin 2
Belgium: Try: Ryan Godsmark; Con: Ryan Godsmark
HT: Ireland 19 Belgium 7

Watch Match Replay

Team: Zac Ward, Connor O’Sullivan, Andrew Smith, Hugo Lennox, Hugo Keenan, Bryan Mollen, Ed Kelly.

Replacements used: Sean Cribbin, Jordan Conroy, Matthew McDonald, Niall Comerford, Chay Mullins.

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland Men Build First Day Momentum At Hamburg Sevens

Saturday, June 29 –


IRELAND 24 PORTUGAL 14, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy, Zac Ward 2, Chay Mullins; Cons: Mark Roche 2
Portugal: Tries: Jose Lima, Vasco Durao; Cons: Manuel Vareiro 2
HT: Ireland 24 Portugal 7

Watch Match Replay

Team: Zac Ward, Niall Comerford, Andrew Smith, Mark Roche (capt), Hugo Keenan, Chay Mullins, Jordan Conroy.

Replacements used: Matthew McDonald, Sean Cribbin, Hugo Lennox, Bryan Mollen, Ed Kelly.


IRELAND 36 BELGIUM 7, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Ed Kelly, Chay Mullins, Hugo Lennox, Mark Roche, Jordan Conroy, Connor O’Sullivan; Cons: Hugo Lennox 3
Portugal: Try: Gaspard Lalli; Con: Simeon Soenen
HT: Ireland 21 Belgium 0

Watch Match Replay

Team: Bryan Mollen, Connor O’Sullivan, Matthew McDonald, Hugo Lennox, Sean Cribbin, Chay Mullins, Ed Kelly.

Replacements used: Jordan Conroy, Mark Roche (capt), Zac Ward, Andrew Smith. Not used: Niall Comerford.

Day 2 Round-Up: Ireland Men Maintain Winning Run To Reach Hamburg’s Last-Four

Sunday, June 30 –


IRELAND 14 PORTUGAL 12, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Niall Comerford, Sean Cribbin; Cons: Hugo Lennox, Mark Roche
Portugal: Tries: Sebastiao Stilwell, Vasco Silva; Con: Manuel Vareiro
HT: Ireland 7 Portugal 0

Watch Match Replay

Team: Zac Ward, Niall Comerford, Andrew Smith, Hugo Lennox, Sean Cribbin, Hugo Keenan, Jordan Conroy.

Replacements used: Mark Roche (capt), Connor O’Sullivan, Chay Mullins. Not used: Bryan Mollen, Ed Kelly.


IRELAND 19 FRANCE 14, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Matthew McDonald, Hugo Keenan, Penalty try; Cons: Hugo Lennox, Pen try con
France: Tries: Simon Desert, Victor Hannoun; Cons: Luca Mignot
HT: Ireland 7 France 7

Watch Match Replay

Team: Bryan Mollen, Connor O’Sullivan, Matthew McDonald, Mark Roche (capt), Hugo Keenan, Chay Mullins, Ed Kelly.

Replacements used: Jordan Conroy, Zac Ward, Hugo Lennox, Sean Cribbin, Niall Comerford.