Monday, June 25, 2012


O'Driscoll attacking in his heydayIreland totally out-scored and out-played by New Zealand.
The All Blacks have shown what a difference a week can make, putting on a clinic to annihilate Ireland 60-0 in the third and final test of their New Zealand tour.

It was truly a complete performance from the men in black, who controlled all facets of the game from start to finish in what was one of their most dominant performances in recent years.

While the great finishing and slickness of the backs was incredible to watch as the All Blacks cut the Ireland defence to bits, it was the men up front who really made the difference.

These men certainly made a dramatic turnaround from last week, at any rate. They looked to smash their opponents up front, putting in some bone-crunching tackles and flying into the rucks, looking to attack this area aggressively to ensure they won quality ball.

It was this physicality that ensured the All Blacks backs were constantly on the front foot, giving them fast ball and plenty of opportunities to attack. They were clinical in doing this, showing the flair that New Zealand teams are renowned for: throwing the ball around and putting each other into holes all over the park.

The Irish defence simply had no answer, leaking nine tries and failing to keep up with the furious pace set by the men in black.

The game was effectively over after 20 minutes, as the All Blacks shot out to a 21-0 lead on the back of some Aaron Cruden wizardry, throwing some unbelievable passes that looked to be near impossible to defend.

Cruden was getting the best of the men outside him, taking the ball to the line and allowing Sonny Bill Williams to cause havoc running off him. Williams also was outstanding in this period, having his best game in a black jersey by far and proving such a threat both with ball in hand and with the offload.

A fourth try not long after from another piece of genius from Cruden saw the score go to 26-0. But it came at a cost, as Cruden was forced to leave the field with an Achilles injury. It was a shame, as he was playing a blinder, but his absence made room for Beauden Barrett, who also was very good in his test debut.

From this point the All Blacks were forced to defend for a long period, as Ireland maintained field position and possession and continued to apply pressure. But the defence held strong, and in the end it seemed Ireland had no answer, unable to cope with the physicality and intensity of a flawless defensive effort. A further penalty goal to the All Blacks saw the sides go to the break with the score at 29-0 and a cricket score on the cards.

To their credit, the All Blacks didn’t fall away as so many teams do in this position. They buried their opposition, continuing to play in a similar way to how they started the game, looking slick on attack and flawless on defence.

There were many players who seemed determined to give the selectors a headache, putting their hands up and making genuine cases for being the No. 1 in their position.

One of these men was Sam Cane, who was simply outstanding on both attack and defence. His work rate on defence was phenomenal, making 20 tackles and coming up with some turnovers at breakdown time. At the same time, he showed good hands and was a valuable link man in the backline on attack.

While there are some outstanding young openside flankers coming through at the moment, very few of them possess the all-around game of Cane. At just 20 years old, it seems the long-term replacement for Richie McCaw has been found.

But McCaw showed he isn’t ready to give up his spot just yet, responding to the criticism he’s received over the past two weeks with an outstanding performance in his first game wearing the No. 8 jersey.

The pair was complemented well by Liam Messam, who started slowly but became more prominent as the game progressed and was outstanding in the second half with some strong defence and good hands on attack.

With Kieran Read and Victor Vito to come back, as well as Adam Thomson, the selectors will sure have a tough task ahead of them when they select their team for the Rugby Championship later in the year.

It was the work of those in the tight, though, that allowed these men to range and be so prominent, completely dominating Ireland at the breakdown while generally showing up okay at scrum and lineout time. Luke Romano was huge in his debut, carrying strongly and hitting rucks hard, while Andrew Hore too was particularly strong.

There is a similar situation in the backline, with no weak link in a clinical performance. Aaron Smith has emerged as a top talent at halfback, transferring his Super Rugby form to the international level, providing his backs with faster ball than they’ve had in some time.

Outside him, Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett both put their hands up, and having Daniel Carter in the No. 10 jersey will no longer be a given as it has been for so long.

It was because of them that the midfield of Sonny Bill Williams and Conrad Smith was so dangerous, each making numerous breaks and linking well with their loose forwards. Smith was once again outstanding on both attack and defence, showing that he is indeed one of the top and most consistent players in the world.

The back three were dangerous when in space, with Hosea Gear scoring a try that was reminiscent of a certain Jonah Lomu, while Israel Dagg and Ben Smith both proved slippery, each bagging a try.

I think the IRFU should look at Declan Kidney's contract, he has one long year left on his deal and, frankly, I don't think he is up to the job at all, give the post to Leinster's Joel Smidt who has done a remarkable job with European Champions, Leinster.

60-0 cannot be tolerated by the IRFU or the Irish people.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Ireland Manager, Giovanni Trapattoni has
announced his team for Monday evening's final Group C game with Italy.
He reverts to his traditional 4-4-2 formation with Kevin Doyle replacing Simon Cox after Thursday's debacle against Spain.
Centurion, Damien Duff has been handed the Captain's armband as he wins his 100th cap for Ireland, the mercurial winger has been a great servant to the Irish team since making his debut against the Czech Republic in 1998.
He has scored 8 goals for Ireland in that time, providing numerous assists and winning plenty of Man of the Match awards for his Country.
With Ireland out of qualifying for the quarter-finals, they have only pride to play for against the Italians, however, it is hoped that Trapattoni will be going all-out for a win against his home Country.
The Ireland coach said he would demand a positive reaction from his players
after the team's disappointing showing so far at Euro 2012.
"Now it's important to go back to the same attitude, mentality and commitment we had in the qualifying matches," Trapattoni said.
"Against Italy, we play for our honour and the honour of the
nation."We will have the duty to do the best we can."
He has resisted the public clamour for change in the shape of Kieron Westwood, James Mc Clean, Jon Walters and Shane Long and has put out his strongest available and experienced team, in the hope of gaining a win against Cesare Prandelli's side.
Lets hope Ireland can end the Euro's with a win.

Friday, June 15, 2012


TORRES TAUNTS THE IRISH FANSAfter Ireland's humiliating lose to Spain in Gdansk, the most annoying thing to me was the triumphalism shown by Fernando Torres in particular and substitute Cesc Fabregas to a lesser extent.

Yes Spain deserved to win, no question, they dominated the entire game and scored four crucial goals to Ireland's none.

But when Fernando Torres scored his and Spain's first goal after only four mins, he went to the huge Irish crowd at the game and put his finger to his ear, as if to say: " I can't hear you now".

What a scumbag, he did nothing with Liverpool, my team, or Chelsea for two Seasons and yet the arrogance of the man never ceases to amaze me.
He plays well in a good team but doesn't even try if he is in a team that struggles from time to time, a Sunshine boy for sure.

All that aside, Ireland were totally out-classed by the current World & European Champions in Spain.

Getting to a major Finals is a major achievement by Irish Manager Giovanni Trapattoni, but playing so badly and losing heavily to Croatia and Spain is not something he will be proud of.

True, he has maximised the potential of a limited pool of talent, but going forward, Trap needs to promote Westwood, Mc Clean, Fahey and Coleman to name a few.

Lets hope for a good result against Italy in our final Group game against Italy on Monday evening, for the 30,000 Irish fans in Poland.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Trapattoni must motivate Ireland to victory against Spain
After Sunday's desperate result against Croatia,
losing 3-1, Ireland will have to go for broke against Spain & Italy.
Now Ireland have to try and achieve the
near-impossible by beating tournament favourites, Spain & Italy.
Make no mistake, Spain are a top quality side who drew with Italy 1-1 in their first game at this tournament
There is talk that Jonathan Walters may play with Ireland Captain Robbie Keane as Kevin Doyle's form has disappeared of late.
In a mouth-watering clash on Thursday I expect Ireland to at least draw, if not win against Spain, then a draw against Italy might just suit Ireland, here's hoping

Monday, June 4, 2012


Balázs Dzsudzsák spurned three chances v IrelandHUNGARY 0-0 IRELAND

Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland team can thank Hungary's wastesfulness in front of goal to earn the Irish a draw in Budapest last night.

It was an open affair despite the thunderous downpour which delayed the kick-off by 20 minutes.

Ireland played an open, expansive attacking game with Robbie Keane & Kevin Doyle to the forefront early on.

However, Hungary playing at home, also posed a threat with Balázs Dzudzsák having three shots on target, he should have scored at least once only for the heroics of Shay Given in goal.

Ireland too, had chances of their own with Damien Duff and Robbie Keane having shots on goal.

In an open and often entertaining game with end to end football being the order of the day, the first-half ended scoreless.

Trapattoni made two changes at half-time with Kieron Westwood coming in for Shay Given, who suffered a mild calf-strain and Darren Gibson in for Keith Andrews.

The game continued apace, close to Turnament Final levels with both sides pressing for goals.

Robbie Keane and Damien Duff were replaced by tactical substitutions, Jon Walters and Simon Cox while Kevin Doyle was replaced by fellow Leinsterman Steven Hunt who had his usual all-action effect on the game, event stopping a certain goal on the line, late in the game.

Jonathon Walters had two shots on goal, one saved by Bogdan in the Hungary goal.

But, despite the weather and the pitch, the game ended in stalemate 0-0. A result which will have pleased Ireland Manager Giovanni Trapattoni somewhat.

After the match the Manager suggested in his broken-english that he may change his trusted 4-4-2 formation in favour of a 4-5-1 with maybe, Robbie Keane dropping deep to counteract modern teams methods.

Ireland are now 14 matches unbeaten heading into the Euro's, lets hope we continue that run in the finals, lets also hope Shay Given's calf injury is not too serious

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Trapattoni names his team for Euro's
Ireland Manager Giovanni Trapattoni has named his team for Monday's final warm-up game against Hungary in Budapest.

It contains the players who got us to the European Championship final's in the first place, which is understandable and commendable.

In any case, there will be injuries and maybe suspensions during the Campaign, so all of the 23 man squad should remain fully focussed for the tournament:

The Italian declared that, barring injury, this will also be the team to face Croatia in Ireland's opening game of the Euro's next Sunday, 10 June.

Some in the media have expressed amazement at the fact that Trap has showed his hand in this manner: Sky Sports News.

However, the genial Italian has always stood by his tried and trusted players in his reign as Ireland boss.

I agree with his actions and methods as he has maximised the potential of his squad and got us to the Euros.

As Big Jack famously said: "Lets go and compete."