Beirne makes dream first start for Ireland during facile win over Italy
By Daire Walsh
EADESTOWN’S Tadhg Beirne enjoyed a dream full debut for Ireland at Soldier’s Field, Chicago on Saturday, contributing a brace of tries in a facile 54-7 victory over Conor O’Shea’s Italy.
Following fleeting appearances off the bench during Ireland’s successful summer tour to Australia (the second and third test triumphs), Beirne was selected to start alongside Connacht’s Quinn Roux in an experimental Irish line-up.
He was joined by fellow Lilywhite Joey Carbery who, like the towering lock, has hit the ground running since linking up with Munster in the off-season. The Athy man was paired with former Leinster team-mate Luke McGrath at half-back, while Rhys Ruddock captained the side from the back-row.
Beirne’s try-scoring prowess helped him to stand-out in a memorable two-year stint at Scarlets – and he opened the scoring with a spectacular finish off a neat set-piece move. Carbery applied the extras as Ireland sought to open the floodgates in the home of the Chicago Bears.
Yet, even though they were facing an Italian outfit short of several first-choice operators, patience was required in their search for additional tries.
McGrath eventually crossed over via excellent approach work by Jordan Larmour, before a loose Ruddock pass allowed Michele Campagnaro to break through for a five-pointer.
This ensured Ireland’s lead stood at seven points (14-7) for the break, but they were a different proposition when the action resumed in the US city. Beirne’s second try arrived in the 43rd-minute and Larmour subsequently claimed Ireland’s fourth to effectively place the outcome beyond any doubt.
Sean Cronin and Garry Ringrose added their names to the scoresheet, but it was the electrifyingly quick Larmour who ultimately grabbed the headlines.
He evaded a host of challenges for his second try of the day and completed his hat-trick with the final play of the game, after receiving possession off replacement John Cooney deep inside his own half.
In addition to Larmour’s impressive haul, Carbery amassed 10 points in another accomplished display – his 13th in the green colours.
Meanwhile, Adam Byrne grabbed his second try in as many appearances for Leinster at the NMU Stadium on Sunday. After appearing regularly for the ‘A’ side in their Celtic Cup campaign, Byrne returned to first-team action against Benetton last week.
Joining him in the Blues’ line-up for their latest trip to South Africa was another Kill native in James Tracy. Their opponents, the Southern Kings, opened the scoring through Yaw Penxe before Byrne responded at the opposite end.
It was a relatively close opening period, until unanswered converted tries from Jamison Gibson-Park, Dan Leavy and Max Deegan propelled Leinster towards a 33-12 interval buffer. Despite coming into this game on a difficult run of form, the Kings continued to give a good account of themselves.
Stephan Ungerer, Luphumlo Mguca and Dries van Schalkwyk all crossed for the hosts on the resumption. Leinster were not to be denied, however, as an earlier Bryan Byrne five-pointer gave them a commanding 38-31 win.