An Ireland select XV eased to victory over a new look Connacht side this evening at Donnybrook by 38-3 with a number of players laying their claims out for a place in the World Cup squad after a strong perfomance despite the scrum causing even more concern
Two converted tries from Mick O’Driscoll was among the highlights for the Ireland select XV at a wet Donnybrook. There was also good news in the full back debate as Geordon Murphy returned to the Ireland set up with a try in the second half.
Along with O’Driscoll and Murphy there were also tries on the night for Fergus McFadden, Ian Keatley and Denis Hurley. Niall O’Connor’s penalty was Connacht’s only score in a game that, despite the lob sided score line, will serve the province well.
McFadden will be pleased with his nights work. Along with his well taken try he constantly posed a threat to the Connacht defence and along with Geordon Murphy they will have given Ireland coach Declan Kidney something to think about.
Paddy Wallace also gave a bold show tonight as Ireland slowly found the rhythm, intensity and cohesion that has been missing so far in the warm up games.
While the score line may have suggested it was an all round good night for the Ireland setup that would be misleading. Not for the first time the scrum was a huge issue. In particular Tony Buckley. The Munster man will again come under scrunity as Ireland were found wanting in the scrum in the first half.
The scrum appeared to be sorted out when Marcus Horan was brought into play. Kidney will have learned one thing from tonight. The need to keep Mike Ross 100% fit going to the World Cup. If not Ireland could be in real trouble.
Overall Kidney and his team will be pleased with what they saw tonight. The competition for places is genuine and you couldn’t honestly rule anyone out at this stage. If the 15 players who take the field against France can carry on the good work from tonight then the Ireland machine may just be coming right at the right time.
Scoring sequence: 14 mins O’Driscoll try, Wallace con 7-0; 17 mins Cullen try, Wallace con 14-0; 47 mins G Murphy try 19-3; 63 mins McFadden try, Wallace con 26-3; 65 mins Keatley try, Wallace con 33-3, 77 mins Hurley try 38-3.
Ireland: G Murphy (Leicester); J Murphy (Munster), D Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), I Keatley (Munster), F McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster); P Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster), I Boss (Terenure College/Leinster); T Buckley (Sale), S Cronin (Leinster), J Hayes (Bruff/Munster), M O’Driscoll (Cork Constitution/Munster), L Cullen (Blackrock College/Leinster), K McLaughlin (St.Mary’s College/Leinster), N Ronan (Shannon/Munster), D Leamy (Cork Constitution/Leinster).