Sunday, March 25, 2012


Victorious Irish Cricket team in Dubai

The Ireland squad returned to Dublin Airport this afternoon with the World Twenty20 Qualifying trophy and a place in the finals in Sri Lanka in September.

They won the trophy last night in stunning fashion with a five wickets win over Afghanistan, thanks to the second fastest T20 half century ever, off just 17 balls by the player of the tournament, Paul Stirling.
He was finally dismissed for 79 from 38 balls with nine fours and three sixes but Andrew Poynter with an unbeaten 23 from just 17 balls in only his second innings of the tournament showed the strength in depth of this squad and why Ireland rule the world in Associates cricket.

The victory which confirmed their place in 12-team World Twenty 20, came in the first final of the day, against Namibia. It was their ninth win in a row after their opening day loss to the west Africans. The Ireland squad had little doubt they would avenge that defeat if the teams met in the later stages and, emphatically, they did just that by nine wickets.

Their best bowling performance of the entire tournament – captain William Porterfield did not even have to call on his first choice slow bowler George Dockrell – restricted Namibia to 94 for six and with Porterfield and Stirling getting Ireland off their usual flying start, it was all over at the beginning of the 11th over.

Stirling, who punched the air with delight after hitting the winning boundary, finished 59 not out, from just 32 balls with nine fours and a six, and also took one for 20 from his four overs, but he gave all the credit for the victory to the bowlers.

“I was just glad to bring the boys home in such an important game,” he said. “But all the credit has to go to the bowlers. To chase down a total of 95 was just an outstanding effort from the fielding unit and the bowlers and credit to Boyd (Rankin), TJ (Trent Johnston) and Max (Sorensen). They did superbly up front.

“It was one of the most important games I have played in and to reach a World Cup it was a mixture of emotions. We’ve been playing almost every day for the last two weeks, two weeks of hard work and just to get over the finish line it was such relief and what we deserved.”

He also paid tribute to National Coach Phil Simmons who, three days ago, had told him to just go out and play his own game.

“Simmo has been very good with me since my debut four years ago. Every time he has a chat with me it seems to work. It happened before Pakistan last summer (when he scored a century) and he has done well for me here,” added Stirling who finished as the leading runs scorer in the tournament with 357 runs.

And last night Simmons responded in kind, saying: “Paul has been unbelievable the last three games and that’s what we want from him. He has stopped trying to be something else and just being himself and it is just instinct and when he is playing like that he is hard to bowl to and it’s nice to see.”

Although it was Stirling’s second undefeated half century in three games, he again missed out on the man of the match award, that going to Max Sorensen whose figures of two wickets for eight runs in his four overs were the most economical of the tournament.
Last night, though, Stirling finally received personal recognition.
 He was certainly Ireland’s player of the tournament and he will be one of the stars of the T20 tournament Finals in the Autumn in Sri Lanka.

(c)Irish Mail

Monday, March 19, 2012


England's Try
So that's it, another six nations slips by and Ireland's rocky form continued throughout the campaign. 
I didn't see the defeat to England, mercifully, as I was at a Wedding the same day. 
I thought Ireland were too cocky and arrogant going into the match all week and so it proved to be as England buried us 30-9.
 A very mixed season for Ireland then, next up: Two Test Matches in New Zealand in the Summer!


1 WALES 5 0 0 10
2 ENGLAND 4 0 1 8
3 IRELAND 2 1 2 5
4 FRANCE 2 1 2 5
5 ITALY 1 0 4 2
6 SCOTLAND 0 0 5 0

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Ireland 32-14 Scotland

Tries from captain Rory Best, Eoin Reddan, Andrew Trimble and Fergus McFadden gave Ireland a deserved Six Nations win over Scotland in Dublin.

Scotland led 6-0 through two Greig Laidlaw penalties, but Ireland hit back quickly with the opening try by Best.

Reddan nipped over for another converted try but Richie Gray's score brought the visitors to within three.

Trimble got a try just before half-time with McFadden adding a late fourth Irish touchdown.

The result puts Ireland - who travel to Twickenham for their final match of the Championship next Saturday - on five points from their four matches, three behind leaders Wales, while Scotland are left to contemplate yet another Wooden Spoon decider with Italy, in Rome.

It was a fine performance by Declan Kidney's men who must be rueing that narrow opening home defeat by Wales.

They did not make the brightest of starts with Scotland grabbing the initiative to establish a 6-0 lead by the 10th minute.

Laidlaw kicked the points after Ireland had been penalised for illegal binding and then joining the ruck from the side.

When Ireland got a kickable penalty, home skipper Best ambitiously instructed Sexton to kick for the corner and the enterprise paid off as it led to the opening try.

Man-of-the-match Donnacha Ryan caught the line-out and slipped the ball to Peter O'Mahony, who fed Best for the home skipper to get over in the left corner.

Sexton landed a fine touchline conversion to put Ireland into the lead and, when Scotland were blown up for collapsing a scrum, the Leinster fly-half made it 10-6.

Laidlaw's third penalty cut the deficit to one again but then Ireland got their second try with another piece of adventurous play.
Jamie Heaslip took a quick tap penalty and charged forward. The support was there and, when the ball slipped out of the ruck, scrum-half Reddan snapped it up and popped over on the left, taking advantage of Sean Lamont's reckless charge out of the defensive line.

Sexton again did the business with a replica of his first conversion to put Ireland into a 17-9 lead.

Scotland hit back quickly as huge second-row Gray got the ball from Laidlaw 25m out, charged through attempted tackles from Reddan and Tommy Bowe and then dummied past Rob Kearney to score his first Test try. Laidlaw missed the conversion.

The clock had passed the 40 minutes when winger Trimble profited from some more flimsy Scottish tackling to get over in the right corner for Ireland's third try after the hosts had recycled quickly.

 Ireland thought they might have engineered another try 10 minutes after the break when Sexton kicked a penalty cross-field for Bowe on the right.

But Graeme Morrison wrestled Bowe on to his back and the television match official's verdict was that the Irish winger had grounded the ball with a second movement.

A sickening clash of heads between Trimble and Lee Jones just after the hour saw the Scotland wing stretchered off, and the lengthy break in play seemed to affect both sides in a disjointed second period.

Sexton's second penalty with eight minutes left made it 25-14 before Scotland's hopes of a late rally were further hampered when Max Evans was sin-binned for tugging the arm of Keith Earls as the Irish centre appeared poised to touch down his own kick ahead.

That impression was confirmed three minutes from time when replacement back McFadden squeezed over under the posts, Sexton adding the extras.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Ulster's Rory Best Captains Ireland against Scotland
The Ireland team to play Scotland in the penultimate round of the RBS 6 Nations at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 5pm) has been named.
In the absence of the injured Paul O'Connell, Rory Best has been named as captain and he will lead out the team for the third time.
Best, whose brother Simon also captained Ireland, previously took on the captaincy duties for Ireland in their summer tour wins over Canada and the USA in 2009.

"It's a great honour to captain your country. It's something growing up that you dream of doing," said the Ulster hooker.

"It's very unfortunate what has happened to Paulie, but I was obviously very honoured when Declan (Kidney) asked me to captain the side.

"We know we'll have to be on the money against Scotland. It will be a massive challenge for our defence."

Donncha Ryan will start his first RBS 6 Nations game in the second row, having featured as a replacement in five previous games in the Championship.

Connacht's versatile forward Mike McCarthy, who made his Ireland debut in the GUINNESS Summer Series last August, has been promoted to the replacements bench.

Meanwhile, Eoin Reddan will partner Jonathan Sexton at scrum half in place of the injured Conor Murray with Tomas O'Leary added to the bench.

IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Scotland, 2012 RBS 6 Nations Championship, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, March 10, kick-off 5pm):

15 - Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
14 - Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
13 - Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
12 - Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
11 - Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
10 - Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary's College/Leinster)
9 - Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
1 - Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
2 - Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) (capt)
3 - Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster)
4 - Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
5 - Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
6 - Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster)
7 - Sean O'Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)
8 - Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster)


16 - Sean Cronin (St. Mary's College/Leinster)
17 - Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)
18 - Mike McCarthy (Buccaneers/Connacht)
19 - Peter O'Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster)
20 - Tomas O'Leary (Dolphin/Munster)
21 - Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
22 - Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

Monday, March 5, 2012


Tommy Bowe scoring his second tryTommy Bowe's first-half double was in vain as France denied Ireland a first win in Paris for 12 years as they came back to draw 17-17 at Stade de France.

Ireland would have had hope of a first victory in the French capital since 2000 as they went into the interval 17-6 ahead thanks to two Bowe tries and the boot of Jonathan Sexton.
But after Morgan Parra had kept France in it Wesley Fofana crossed after the break to cap a fine revival from the home side, although their dreams of an RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam diminished as they couldn't find the winning score in the dying minutes.
Sexton had the first chance to get some points on the board in this rearranged fixture following a frozen pitch on February 11 but he sent his seventh-minute penalty wide of the posts.
But if that was a let off for Les Blues then they shot themselves in the foot just six minutes later as they handed Ireland a simple try.
France had possession but were made to pay for some static passing, Bowe intercepting a lacklustre Aurelien Rougerie telegraphed effort to score under the posts.
Sexton made no mistake with the simple conversion but ten minutes later France were on the scoresheet through a Parra penalty after Paul O'Connell was caught offside.
However the men in green restored their seven point advantage just two minutes later when Sexton was on target with a 25m penalty.
Just moments later Bowe thought he was in for another intercepted try only to fail to gather and conceding a scrum which led to a penalty for Parra, the scrum-half doubling his tally but only after the ball went over after hitting the bar.
He wasn't so lucky with another attempt five minutes, missing from 30m out, and he was made to rue his wayward effort as Bowe silenced the Stade de France crowd with his second try of the first half.
Ireland turned the ball over inside their own 22 and attacked from deep, the ball finding its way to Bowe on the right before the wing chipped over the France defence for a superb solo touch down - his 24th in international rugby.
Sexton added the extras to give Declan Kidney's men a comfortable 17-6 half-time lead.
France came out for the second half early as they set about chipping away at Ireland's lead, which they did on 47 minutes courtesy of Parra's third penalty.
And it got even better for the home side as centre Fofana made it three tries in as many games in a French shirt, bursting through the midfield and holding off Rob Kearney's last-ditch tackle to get his side back in the contention.
Parra was narrowly wide with the difficult conversion on the left touchline but he levelled the scores at 17-17 on 58 minutes with a fine penalty near the halfway line.
France were in the ascendancy but a drive forward from Kearney alleviated the pressure on Ireland, but Rory Best overthrew a lineout 10m from the French tryline and the threat was over.
Replacement Lionel Beauxis thought he would grab the headlines with eight minutes left only to make a hash of his drop-goal attempt and the scores remained level.
And that is how it stayed as Ireland's defence held firm for the final few minutes to dash any French hopes of a Grand Slam.

Friday, March 2, 2012


Ian Madigan
Leinster gained a hard-fought victory against Aironi in Italy this evening.

Deprived of their international stars, Leinster never reached top gear as bottom hosted top, but 22-year-old fly-half Madigan saw his stock continue to rise with five penalties and a conversion while replacement Noel Reid added a late try to hand the RaboDirect PRO12 league leaders the victory.

It extends Leinster's unbeaten record in all competitions to 20 while Aironi will take solace from their performance against the league leaders, a week after going down by a point to a late Newport Gwent Dragons penalty try.

But it was not the cakewalk that was predicted. Leinster began brightly enough but Aironi, boosted by the return of Italy internationals Giulio Toniolatti, Roberto Quartaroli, Carlo Del Fava and Simone Favaro were imperious in defence throughout.

A fifth minute penalty from Madigan looked set to open the floodgates but two minutes later Aironi had a great chance to hit back, only for opposite number Naas Olivier to miss the target.

On 11 minutes, the warning signs for Leinster were apparent and when their constant pressure found no way through, had Tito Tebaldi gathered his attempted interception he had a clear path to the try-line.

Madigan then missed another effort from the tee before Tebaldi again almost crossed for the hosts as Aironi were showing little respect for their visitors' lofty reputation.

Leinster doubled their lead on 27 minutes however after a dangerous tackle from prop Lorenzo Romano and a minute later the returning Luke Fitzgerald wasted a glorious opportunity, knocking on after excellent work from Fionn Carr.

The visitors turned up the heat as the half-time whistle approached but further stoic Aironi defence limited Leinster to just one further Madigan penalty with the score 9-0 at the interval.

After the break Aironi soon got themselves onto the scoresheet, this time Olivier finding his range five minutes in and the Stadio Zaffanella crowd dared to believe when replacement Luciano Orquera landed his side's second penalty with 20 minutes to go.

But Leinster's class eventually told with Madigan making a superb break which brought with it a penalty, duly converted by the fly-half.

And as desperation kicked in for Aironi, Gilberto Pavan was send to the sin bin before Madigan hit penalty number five, finally dragging Leinster out of sight.

In the closing stages and with a nine-point cushion and a man advantage, Leinster smelled blood and finally scored the first try of the game on 75 minutes, replacement centre Reid intercepted in his own half and streaked clear.

Madigan added the extras to take his personal tally to 17 to ensure Leinster equalled rivals Munster's record of 14 unbeaten matches while the only sour note for Joe Schmidt's men was Jack MacGrath's yellow card in the final minute.