Post-Match Reaction: Autumn Nations Cup – Ireland V England – James Ryan – – November 22 2020

Ryan Has No Doubt ‘We’re Going To Keep Building’

By Daire Walsh

His first outing as Ireland captain did not turn out as hoped, but James Ryan was not too despondent in the aftermath of Saturday’s 18-7 defeat to England at Twickenham.

Ryan led the team when Jonathan Sexton’s hamstring injury forced him off against Wales last week, and he held onto the captaincy for yesterday’s Autumn Nations Cup second round match.

The young second row was part of losing Ireland sides against England in the last two Six Nations tournaments, and although it may not necessarily show in the scoreline, he believes they produced a much better performance on this occasion.

“The positive thing was we put them under real pressure at times,” said Ryan, speaking at the post-match press conference. “I thought we created opportunities for ourselves, but we just weren’t clinical enough.

“Probably our set piece let us down at times in crucial moments. They scored off the back of some of those moments that we didn’t quite nail. I’m proud of the lads. I thought the team spirit was brilliant.

“I thought we created loads of opportunities. The next step is taking them. The other side of that, I thought the spirit was really good. Especially after (conceding) that second try.

“When we had that moment in their 22 and we didn’t quite nail it, they went the length of the pitch. It would have been very easy for us to dip our heads, but we just kept banging at the door.

“Same in that second half, we kept going. It was just little inaccuracies that gave them points. We’ll take loads from that and I’ve no doubt that we’re going to keep building.”

A number of new players has been integrated into the Ireland set-up by head coach Andy Farrell in 2020. Since rugby restarted, Hugo Keenan, Will Connors, Ed Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park, James Lowe and Billy Burns have all made their debuts in the green jersey.

Farrell’s selection yesterday had Gibson-Park, Lowe and Ross Byrne all making their second international starts, while it was only a second start in the full-back position for the three-times capped Keenan.

22-year-old forwards Ronan Kelleher and Caelan Doris have also only been playing Test rugby since February, while Cian Healy, Peter O’Mahony and Keith Earls made up over half of the Ireland starting XV’s 433 caps.

In contrast, England had 725 caps’ worth of experience in their side. Ryan acknowledged that it will take time for Ireland to reach England’s current levels of play, but is adamant they have it in them to do so.

“Look, this is a new group. The coaching staff, how many players have made their debuts over the last few weeks. It’s kind of a new chapter for us.

“England, in terms of where they’re at, they’ve been together a lot longer. I’ve no doubt that the gap is closing there.

“We just need to keep growing now and we’ll get so much from games like this as a group. I’ve no doubt we’re going to get closer and closer.”

Despite the result, it was a special moment for Ryan to lead out an Ireland senior team for the first time. The 24-year-old managed to downplay the significance of it during the build-up, and even in the aftermath of a landmark day in his career, there were other issues on his mind.

“To be honest, this week was much the same. Faz (Andy Farrell) told me to focus on my own game and that’s what I tried to do all week. It wasn’t a massive strain or anything.

“For me, I’m much more concerned with the team and the team performance than any of that stuff. Obviously another game next week (against Georgia), we’ve a couple of days off.

“Early in the (next) week will be a good opportunity for us to learn about that game and to keep building,” he added.

Posted in International Rugby | Comments Off on Post-Match Reaction: Autumn Nations Cup – Ireland V England – James Ryan – – November 22 2020

Post-Match Reaction: Autumn Nations Cup – Ireland V England – Chris Farrell – – November 22 2020

‘I Think We’ve A Lot Of Areas To Grow In’ – Chris Farrell

By Daire Walsh

Despite his obvious disappointment at losing 18-7 to England at Twickenham, Ireland centre Chris Farrell felt there were positives to take from Saturday’s game.

Flying winger Jonny May’s first-half brace of tries left Ireland in a difficult position, and while Jacob Stockdale crossed during the final quarter, two Owen Farrell penalties had effectively put England out of reach.

This was Ireland’s fourth successive loss to England, yet in contrast to those chastening reversals, Chris Farrell reckoned there was something to be gleaned from this Autumn Nations Cup tie.

“If there’s anything to take from it, it’s the fact we didn’t shy away,” he insisted. “In the past in big games against England over here, we’ve probably shied away, on reflection, in the games.

“We won the second half (today). We didn’t perform well enough in the first 20 minutes. We gave them 12 easy points and we gave ourselves an awful uphill battle.

“That will be something we have to look at and we’ll reflect on. We’ll be very disappointed with that and we are.

“I think there are definitely positives to take from the character of the team, character of some individuals. Character of the collective as a whole. We stuck in it.”

Before second half replacement Stockdale touched down for his 18th Test try, Farrell had a golden opportunity to open his own account at this level.

Latching onto Ross Byrne’s perfectly-weighted kick in behind the English cover, the Munster midfielder looked set to ground the ball past the whitewash – only to be held up by the retreating home defence.

While acknowledging he should have finished off this chance, the 27-year-old did use it as an example of the variety that Ireland were occasionally able to bring to their attacking play.

“Looking at it, I don’t know how. I felt I was going to score, I don’t know how they managed to hold me up there. I thought momentum was taking me over.

“I went to roll and then tried to get back, because I knew I was over the line to get it down but there was a hand there. You have to finish those at this level.

“You don’t get too many chances like that to get over the line against a quality team like this. We showed quite good variation in their 22 in terms of, they gave us some kick space and we took it a few times.

“Jacob’s try obviously (being one such move). I think we fronted up power-wise and carried well in that area towards the end of the game.

“For all the territory we had in the second half, for all the possession we had throughout the game, it’s hard to see how we haven’t come away with more points.”

Even though he was doing his utmost to remain upbeat in the face of a frustrating 11-point defeat, Farrell readily accepted that England were the superior side on the day.

This was the first time the Tyrone native had come up against the current Six Nations champions in a Test game, and it proved to be something of an eye-opener. He added:

“The one thing I felt out there is that the breakdown was phenomenal. Every time I carried, I felt like it was an absolute battle to get the ball back.

“I know the rules have made that tough, in that you can’t have too many movements on the ground now. It’s always going to be tough, but I feel like they took advantage of that massively.

“They’re so good at attacking breakdowns or as we carry, they get on the ball so quickly. That’s what I was so impressed about with them.

“They’re a complete team. They’re a quality, quality team. They’re a group that have been together for quite a while now.

“I think we have a lot of growth now as a group. I think we have a lot of areas to grow in. When you see the individuals that have come in this campaign, we’re missing a few and we have new individuals in. I think there’s a lot of growth there. I think there’s a lot of positives to take from it.”

Posted in International Rugby | Comments Off on Post-Match Reaction: Autumn Nations Cup – Ireland V England – Chris Farrell – – November 22 2020

Joe McDonagh Cup: Westmeath V Meath – The Backdoor GAA – November 21 2020

Joe McDonagh Cup: Westmeath Overcome Neighbours Meath In Entertaining Group Stage Clash


MEATH 1-19

By Daire Walsh

Westmeath came good in the closing moments to record a four-point victory over neighbours Meath in the group stages of the Joe McDonagh Cup at Pairc Tailteann.

While the Lake County were already effectively out of contention for a spot in the tournament decider, this comes as a significant morale-boost. Given the close proximity of the two counties, Westmeath manager Shane O’Brien (who has previous inter-county experience as Dublin camogie boss) will have been delighted to see his side recovering from a losing position in the closing-quarter.

Castletown Geoghegan’s Aonghus Clarke was terrific throughout and finished with a handsome tally of 0-9 for the visitors. Joey Boyle was another to impress, while Niall Mitchell also stood out in a difficult opening period for Westmeath.

The Royals were in line for a much-desired win when they led 1-12 to 1-8 at the midway stage in the contest. Padraic O’Hanrahan’s dead-ball accuracy helped them to create a powerful platform and Jack Walsh was operating as a dangerous target man on the edge of the square.

Despite losing Jack Regan to a red card on 54 minutes, Meath remained two in front (1-18 to 1-16) with just three minutes of normal time left to play. Yet, Westmeath hung in there and ultimately did enough to claim the two points on offer.

Both sides entered this contest on the back of disappointing form in this competition to date. Westmeath suffered comprehensive defeats to Antrim (4-25 to 1-15) and Kerry (2-19 to 0-14) in the opening two rounds, and were hoping a three-week break would give them the chance to regroup and return as a rejuvenated force.

Formerly a dual star, Brendan Murtagh contributed a combined tally of 0-10 across their two previous games but was held in reserve for the majority of this tie. Additionally, Niall O’Brien – one of the shining lights in the Antrim game with a 1-2 haul – was forced to sit out this game having received a red card against Kerry.

Meath finished 10 points adrift of The Kingdom (1-20 to 0-13) in their first game of the group stages on October 25 at Austin Stack Park, Tralee, before agonisingly lost out to Carlow by a single point (1-22 to 1-21) 13 days later.

O’Hanrahan (0-12) and Regan (0-10) had been their leading lights in the scoring charts in advance of this tie, which saw the Royals playing on home soil for the first time since March 1 – a narrow success at the expense of Mayo in Division 2A of the National Hurling League.

Following a relatively even start, Meath stretched 0-5 to 0-2 clear when Walsh slotted over a point. This was immediately wiped out by Shane Williams’ 12th minute goal and Westmeath supplemented the Lough Lene Gaels man’s intervention with two quickfire white flag efforts.

This was only a minor set-back for Meath – who are managed by Westmeath native Nick Weir – and by the time the first water break arrived, they held a 0-8 to 1-4 advantage.

Keith Keoghan, Alan Douglas and Regan knocked over consecutive points to offer Meath some leeway on the scoreboard. Rather than being affected by the temporary halt in play, the Royals were even more impressive after the restart.

O’Hanrahan and Regan bagged points in advance of a Joey Boyle single for Westmeath, before the ever-threatening Walsh flicked to the net in the 27th-minute.

To Westmeath’s credit, they got themselves back in the frame with Cormac Boyle and Clarke points. Mitchell also added his name to the scoresheet, though Regan and Stephen Morris did likewise at the opposite end to establish a four-point cushion for Meath heading into the changing rooms at half-time.

After O’Hanrahan had increased their lead on the resumption, Westmeath responded with two points in succession from Clarke and Mitchell. The home team found it difficult to create the same level of momentum in the second half, but thanks to a brace by the dependable O’Hanrahan, their interval buffer remained intact on 48 minutes.

Westmeath held in there, however, and enjoyed a sustained purple patch towards the end of the third-quarter. Four points on the bounce – including key contributions courtesy of Clarke and Joey Boyle – suddenly ensured the sides were on level terms (1-15 to 1-15).

Westmeath appeared to have the upper hand when Meath’s Regan was given his march orders for an off-the-ball incident. The second water break afforded the Royals an opportunity to re-examine their approach, though, and with considerable fire in their bellies, they subsequently regained the ascendancy.

The influential duo of Walsh and O’Hanrahan (free) handed them some breathing space and while Westmeath’s Cormac Boyle fired back at the end of a sweeping move, O’Hanrahan found the range off a close-range free.

Even though a similar strike by Clarke kept them on their toes, Meath were still ahead moving into the stoppage-time. However, this was the cue for Westmeath to flex their muscle.

Joey Boyle popped up for an equalising score and this was swiftly followed by a scrambled finish from Luke Loughlin – who had deputised for Jack Galvin in the opening half and recently featured for the Westmeath footballers in their Leinster SFC defeat to All-Ireland champions Dublin.

Meath fought until the end, but it was left for the outstanding Clarke to have the final say. His two-point salvo deep into time added on eventually put the seal on a hard-earned win for Westmeath.

Scorers – Westmeath: Aonghus Clarke 0-9 (7f), Shane Williams, Luke Loughlin 1-0 each, Cormac Boyle, Joey Boyle 0-3 each, Niall Mitchell 0-2, Alan Cox, Robbie Greville, Darragh Clinton 0-1 each. Meath: Padraic O’Hanrahan 0-8 (8f), Jack Walsh 1-2, Jack Regan (2f), Adam Gannon 0-3 each, Keith Keoghan, Stephen Morris, Alan Douglas 0-1 each.

WESTMEATH: Eoin Skelly; Conor Shaw, Brendan Doyle, Darragh Egerton; Aaron Craig, Tommy Doyle, Alan Cox; Cormac Boyle, Robbie Greville; Aonghus Clarke, Joey Boyle, Jack Galvin; Shane Williams, Niall Mitchell, Darragh Clinton. Subs: Luke Loughlin for Galvin (26), Derek McNicholas for Clinton (51), Brendan Murtagh for Williams (63), Eoghan Ahearn for Mitchell (68), Conor Kane for B Doyle (75).

MEATH: Mark McCormack; Michael Burke, Shane Brennan, Sean Geraghty; Keith Keoghan, Darragh Kelly, Shane Whitty; Padraic O’Hanrahan, Patrick Conneely; Jack Regan, Stephen Morris, Alan Douglas; Adam Gannon, Cathal McCabe, Jack Walsh. Subs: James Kelly for McCabe (half-time), Daithi McGowan for Gannon (45), Damien Healy for Douglas, Mark Molloy for Conneely (both 59), Charlie Ennis for McCormack (62).

Referee: Rory McGann (Clare).

Posted in Hurling | Comments Off on Joe McDonagh Cup: Westmeath V Meath – The Backdoor GAA – November 21 2020

Autumn Nations Cup Build-Up To England Away: Richie Murphy – – November 20 2020

Murphy: We’ve Added More Variety And Options To Our Kicking Game

By Daire Walsh

Richie Murphy believes the teams’ respective kicking games could go a long way towards determining the outcome of tomorrow’s latest tussle between Ireland and England.

Ireland’s skills & kicking coach was speaking a short while after the James Ryan-led squad had taken part in their Captain’s Run session at Twickenham.

In recent meetings, the smart tactical kicking of Eddie Jones’ men – not just that of captain Owen Farrell, but a number of English backs – has caused plenty of problems for Ireland.

Speaking ahead of the Autumn Nations Cup clash, Murphy expects the hosts to execute a similar game-plan tomorrow and Andy Farrell’s charges will need to find ways to counteract it. He said:

“Against England, they’ll come with a big kicking game and they’ll come to add a lot of pressure and try and put the ball back in behind you.

“Making sure we’re on top of that, making sure we can deal with the stuff that comes into our back-field is going to be really important and how we get out of our end.

“They’re the big things. Obviously when we have the ball, we need to be clever with how we use it. Field position is going to be massively important, but when we get a chance to fire the shots we’ve got to take them and not go into our shell.”

As regards Ireland’s own kicking game, Murphy feels it has improved since last February’s 24-12 defeat at Twickenham. It is an area he is confident they can get some joy in.

“I think we’ve taken some strides. Our kicking game probably is a little better than it was pre-lockdown. I think we’ve more variety in our kicking game. More options.

“Again, we’ll be trying to do that to them as well. It’s about finding space, whether it be kicking, whether it be running, it all depends.

“It comes down to good decision makers and it comes down to responsibility of everyone in the team because you can’t just have a nine and a 10 making all of the decisions.”

The second round showdown marks a big day in the international career of Ross Byrne. Just one of the Dubliners’ previous eight caps has been as a starter and that was in a chastening Rugby World Cup warm-up defeat to England in London last year.

Having done so on several occasions with his province, Byrne gets the opportunity to step into Jonathan Sexton’s shoes this week, alongside their Leinster colleague Jamison Gibson-Park. Like the Ireland head coach earlier in the week, Murphy offered a ringing endorsement of the 25-year-old.

“I’m very confident in Ross. Ross is getting a big opportunity. Obviously coming out of Johnny’s shadow, like he does for Leinster, is tough.

“Because people will obviously be very focused on him. But he’s led the week really well. He has stepped up. His communication with the guys around him, and his leadership and his work with the likes of James Ryan and the other boys has been really good.

“He’s going into a Test match that he knows is a massive opportunity for him personally, but I know that Ross will put the team first and try and guide his team in the right direction.”

That one-sided encounter in August 2019 – the second of four fixtures Ireland played as a lead-in to the World Cup in Japan – is the only previous time Ireland have faced England outside of the Six Nations in recent years.

However, it is there that the comparison between that game and tomorrow’s Autumn Nations Cup tie begins and ends for Murphy.

“I think that was two teams at a very different stage of pre-season development as well. I’m very happy that we’re in a very different place. Different frame of mind,” he added.

“As we said at the start, it is a new group and some of the players are only new into it. The likes of Hugo (Keenan), Jamison, all these guys, not too many caps behind them.

“With that, there’s a freedom in how they play. That’s what we’ll be trying to back this week, is getting these guys out and letting them express themselves the way they see fit, within obviously our structure.”

While the newly-crowned Six Nations champions have enjoyed the upper hand in the sides’ last three meetings, a number of well-timed sucker punches to the Irish challenge has helped them along the way.

Murphy and the rest of the Ireland coaching team have emphasised the need to respond in a timely fashion to any setbacks and immediately switch their focus to the next task.

“That’s one thing we’ve been working on for a long time, is how we move on to the next thing as a group. I think where we’re getting to is, obviously this team there’s quite a few new faces in it.

“Those have really come in and brought the rest of the guys forward in many ways. Dealing with those little setbacks and getting onto the next moment is massively important.

“A little like what I was saying there earlier on. If those first couple of moments don’t go that well, our focus needs to be on the next ball.”


Posted in International Rugby | Comments Off on Autumn Nations Cup Build-Up To England Away: Richie Murphy – – November 20 2020

Denis Bastick On Dublin Footballers: The Tallaght Echo – November 19 2020

“There’s still control from the players to make the decisions on the pitch”

Bastick can see continuity in Dublin mindset as the Blues bid for Leinster glory

By Daire Walsh

FIVE-TIME All-Ireland winner Denis Bastick believes the Dublin senior footballers are undergoing an evolution rather than a revolution under the management of Dessie Farrell.

The former Sky Blues attacker stepped into breach late last year to replace Clondalkin native Jim Gavin and, following comprehensive victories over Westmeath and Laois, will hope to guide his charges in a Leinster SFC title at the expense of Meath in Croke Park this Saturday.

In the absence of spectators, Bastick has noted the communication levels on the field of play are as strong as they’ve ever been.

“I think what’s evident is that there’s still that control from the players to make the decisions on the pitch. I think that’s quite evident in the players. You can hear it a bit more with no fans, in that there’s a huge amount of control being influenced by players talking,” Bastick explained.

“That just kind of shows you that the guys are in control or trying to control the game. There’s loads of communication between each other. I think that’s just a follow on from what’s built up in experience over the years with the team.”

Last Sunday’s 2-23 to 0-7 win over Laois was a productive outing for Bastick’s Templeogue Synge Street colleague Niall Scully, who finished with 0-3 to his name. There was also local interest in the performances of Robbie McDaid (Ballyboden St Enda’s) and Tom Lahiff (St Jude’s), the latter being a newcomer to the panel in 2020.

Whereas Bastick often had a gap of several weeks between each of his provincial championship appearances for Dublin, the current squad are busy preparing for a third games in as many weekends. From the Tallaght man’s point of view, this is something that inter-county footballers will relish.

“We had four weeks between some Leinster games, a full month of training. As a player it’s now great, because they’re coming thick and fast. Especially as a starting player, it’s got to be great. It’s going to be difficult for guys to show form in training games. The more games the better, the quicker they come the better. It leaves you less time to think about it.”

Long identified as a major challenger to Dublin’s throne, Kerry’s campaign came a shock end at the hands of Cork in last Sunday week’s Munster semi-final. With no backdoor route in this year’s competition, Bastick feels no team can be taken for granted.

“Definitely Kerry would have been number two in terms of favourites for the championship. To see them gone it’s kind of a little eye-opener. We all kind of felt with it being back into knockout championship with the weather being poor that this could happen, but we’ve got it first hand now,” Bastick added.

“It could happen Dublin if they’re not aware. The weather and pitches, it brings the teams back down to a level where the gap isn’t that big. It could happen again, there could be more shocks to come.”

Posted in Gaelic Football | Comments Off on Denis Bastick On Dublin Footballers: The Tallaght Echo – November 19 2020

Peamount United Piece: The Tallaght Echo – November 19 2020

It’s crunch time in Peamount’s National League title defence

By Daire Walsh

PEAMOUNT United’s Women’s National League title will be on line this coming Saturday when they welcome Shelbourne to PRL Park in Greenogue.

Should the visitors come out on top of this mouthwatering contest, it will ensure the top-flight silverware will be safely nestled in Tolka Park over the Christmas period. Conversely, a victory in this fixture will see Peamount defending the WNL crown for the first time in their history.

If the game ends in a draw, it will keep the respective supporters of Shels and the Newcastle club on tenterhooks for at least another fortnight.

A stalemate would leave the northsiders a point clear of Peamount, who will have only one more match remaining.

Indeed on December 5, James O’Callaghan’s defending champions embark on a 292 kilometre round trip to face Wexford Youths at Ferrycarrig Park. What exactly will be at stake on their journey to the south-east remains to be seen, but Peamount are well aware of the huge threat the Slaneysiders can pose.

In the past two seasons, Peamount were denied FAI Cup success by Wexford on finals day in the Aviva. However, they gained a modicum of revenge for these defeats in Ferrycarrig last Saturday week.

A Dearbhaile Beirne goal was enough to secure Peamount further passage in a tense last-four meeting. As a result, The Peas will now face Cork City in a Cup decider at Tallaght Stadium on December 12.

Something of a dress rehearsal to this encounter took place in Greenogue last Saturday as the Leesiders provided the opposition for the Peas in their latest National League fixture.

The homeside were 3-0 winners in their previous clash with Cork back in mid-August and replicated this result on home soil courtesy of goals from Lucy McCartan, Karen Duggan and Aine O’Gorman.

Given there was much more at stake for the hosts – Cork are a distant fourth in the league table – it is difficult to know how much Saturday’s game told us about their forthcoming battle for the FAI Cup.

While Naoisha McAloon deputised in goal for Niamh Reid-Burke, the only other change to the Peamount starting 11 from the previous week’s success against Wexford was Megan Smyth-Lynch’s selection in place of Becky Watkins.

On the other hand, Cork made a total of four alterations from their own Cup semi-final win over Treaty United – an indication perhaps that this game was not number one on their list of priorities.

The breakthrough arrived 14 minutes into Saturday’s clash when McCartan was picked out in space 25 yards from the target and unleashed a powerful strike to the net. She was joined on the scoresheet two minutes later by her midfield partner Duggan, before O’Gorman effectively put the outcome beyond doubt in the latter stages of the half.

Despite featuring in defence under Vera Pauw since coming out of international retirement, O’Gorman has a more advanced role in this Peamount team. She took up a number of positions in the final-third and was released on the left-flank for her 36th-minute finish.

The five substitutes rule in the WNL presented O’Callaghan with an ideal opportunity to test his resources in the second half. This included giving run outs to Stephanie Roche and Dora Gorman, whose experience at the highest level of women’s soccer will be invaluable in the next few weeks – both on and off the field.

Posted in League Of Ireland, Women's Soccer | Comments Off on Peamount United Piece: The Tallaght Echo – November 19 2020

Autumn Nations Cup Build-Up To England Away: CJ Stander – – November 19 2020

Stander: Caelan’s Brought Energy And Something Different

By Daire Walsh

Despite switching positions with Caelan Doris, CJ Stander does not foresee there being a huge difference in the way he approaches Ireland’s much-anticipated Autumn Nations Cup match against England.

In the concluding rounds of the Guinness Six Nations, Doris was selected at blindside flanker with Stander operating at number 8 – a position he has largely made his own in the past few years.

This is also, invariably, the jersey in which he lines out for Munster while all five of Doris’ post lockdown appearances for Leinster have been as a number six.

However, the Mayo-born back rower will operate from the base of the scrum this Saturday when Ireland visit the recently-crowned Six Nations champions at Twickenham (kick-off 3pm).

A potent back row is completed by Peter O’Mahony – at openside this time – and the returning Stander, who does not view it as a major transition to move from number 8 to the blindside role.

“It’s always great to be back in the starting side and to get an opportunity again,” he admitted. “We’re in as a group and just talking about the loose forwards, we’re a close-knit group of five.

“We also know we’re going to get opportunities. Not a lot changes for me. I think we’ve got unbelievable personnel on the pitch from the start and then with Will (Connors) coming on, who is going to bring a lot of energy and make a difference.

“Not a lot of change for me, it’s just literally the number on the back. I cover a few positions and so do all of them, so it’s not a big change.”

Having started all five of Ireland’s Six Nations fixtures either side of the lockdown, Stander sat out last week’s opening Guinness Series and Autumn Nations Cup win over Wales.

In his absence, the 30-year-old was impressed by the player-of-the-match performance produced by Doris, whose emergence over the past year has kept the rest of Ireland’s back rowers on their toes.

“Caelan’s got good footwork. He’s got a big work-rate. At the weekend, he made the job very easy for the rest of the back row.

“It makes it competitive because we all want to play and we want to be in a group. Monday’s training, going into Tuesday and Wednesday, it’s competitive. That’s what you need.

“You want to be on your toes all the time and you don’t want to be a certainty because then you get complacent.

“He’s someone who has come into the group with a lot of energy, brought something different with his footwork and he has upped the work-rate for the whole back row. It’s great to have him.”

On the same day that Stander made his Ireland debut against South Africa in June 2016, James Ryan captained the Ireland Under-20s to an historic victory over New Zealand in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in England.

Fast forward to the present day and the Leinster lock is set to lead Ireland senior team into battle for the first time, in place of the injured Jonathan Sexton.

Stander has been there to see Ryan establish himself as one of the main men in the Irish pack and is thrilled to see him get a chance to show his leadership qualities at Twickenham.

“When he came into the squad, James was someone who led by example. I think he really grew in that role. It has been great seeing him grow in the squad and in himself.

“It’s unbelievable to see the growth and he’s someone that talks at the right time. I think he’s really improved that part of it. He’s an all-round captain.

“The best thing about him, he leads the charge on the pitch by example and when he talks, people listen. I’m excited to see him with the arm band.”

If Ryan’s first outing as captain is to be a victorious one, then Stander believes Ireland will need to nail their set piece and not present England with opportunities to establish a foothold in the game.

“You have to have the ball and you need to have a good set piece. I think the last few weeks we’ve improved on that.

“If you go back to Wales, we actually got a few turnovers and our set piece was doing well. If we can get our set piece going and if we can make sure we get off the line, then that gets us into the game and we can work from there.

“We’ve played against them a few times and the arm wrestle is going to come. It’s just who is going to adapt to it better in that certain time on the pitch. This game is physical anyway.

“You can’t just run out there and just try and be physical and play off sheet, because you’re going to let the team down.

“We know as a squad and as a group what we need to do out there and do to make sure we get those set pieces going. The rest will look after itself.”

Stander was one of five try scorers when Ireland defeated New Zealand for the very first time in Chicago four years ago. He was reminded of this success when watching Argentina’s own historic win over the All Blacks last Saturday.

Commenting on the Pumas’ 25-15 Tri Nations Series triumph in Sydney, he added: “We watched the game. Unbelievable game to watch. It’s one of those ones you’ll remember where you were.

“We were lucky enough to play (Wales) on Friday night so we had that time to watch it on Saturday morning. The biggest thing there is just that they enjoyed playing for that jersey and for each other.

“They came out and firstly played their game. They didn’t make a lot of mistakes. I think their tackle count was up there and they didn’t have a lot of missed tackles.

“That makes a big difference and you can see they really did want to be in that jersey and they wanted to play for each other. We’ve looked at that game as individuals and we’ve spoken about in small groups about that victory.

“Because when we played New Zealand, I think cohesiveness against a team like that is important. Going on to this weekend again, we’ve got to just control our job and control our group and what we can do.”

Posted in International Rugby | Comments Off on Autumn Nations Cup Build-Up To England Away: CJ Stander – – November 19 2020

Post-Match Reaction: Women’s National League Second Phase Group One: Cork City Rónán Collins – The Evening Echo – November 17 2020 Manager

Collins encouraged by improved second half in Peamount defeat


Daire Walsh

Despite the disappointment of falling to a 3-0 Women’s National League defeat against Peamount United on Saturday, Cork City manager Rónán Collins believes their second half performance can provide great encouragement going forward.

The second league meeting between these sides in 2020, fourth-place City and their Dublin rivals are set to do battle again in next month’s FAI Cup final at Tallaght Stadium.

First half goals from Lucy McCartan, Karen Duggan and Aine O’Gorman had left the Leesiders with an impossible task on the resumption, but they dug in to ensure the gap wasn’t widened any further.

“The way conditions were in the first half, we want to learn how to control that a bit more.

“I think we played into their hands with the speed we tried to play it at. Very windy and they’ve really used the dominance of that wind in the first half. I suppose the two goals came very quickly,” Collins remarked after the game in Greenogue.

“The third goal is a bit of a killer, it’s a bit of a mistake in there as well.

“That was the disappointing one, but we’ve changed things up.

“The girls have put in a really good adjustment.

“The bench has livened it up in the second half. There’s stuff to build on from here and, as ever, we’re on a journey and a process. This is another step on that road.

“We know each other quite well. We tried a few different things tonight. Some of them worked so we’ll add those as ammunition for games to come.

“I’ve no doubt they learnt a bit as well.”

Having resisted the urge to make changes for so long, Collins made a number of alterations to his side for their latest trip to the capital.

This included handing first starts to netminder Abby McCarthy and defender Lauren Walsh.

McCarthy deputised for suspended City captain Maria O’Sullivan and while she couldn’t halt Peamount’s opening period blitz, she thwarted a number of attacks after the break.

From Collins’ point of view, he is thrilled to have two strong goalkeeping options, with underage international Leah Hayes Coen also waiting in the wings.

“One thing about Abby, she’s a trojan worker. Ever since she’s come into the club, she has just put one foot in front of the other.

“One thing is as a player, if you want to get somewhere, if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you’re going to get there,” Collins said of the 18-year-old.

“I think with Abby, we still have more to come and see from her, but even things as simple as how dominant she has become off aerial ball.

“It’s great to see those developments in her. How loud she has become. I remember when she used to be very quiet. It’s great to see players coming on like that and really taking their opportunities and showing what they can do.”

Posted in League Of Ireland, Women's Soccer | Comments Off on Post-Match Reaction: Women’s National League Second Phase Group One: Cork City Rónán Collins – The Evening Echo – November 17 2020 Manager

Autumn Nations Cup Build-Up To England Away: Andy Farrell – – November 18 2020

‘Ross Deserves His Chance Against England’ – Farrell

By Daire Walsh

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has given his full backing to Ross Byrne after naming the Leinster out-half to start in Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup showdown with England.

A debutant against Italy back in November 2018 in Chicago, Byrne appeared off the bench in all five of Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations games this year.

He was left out of the matchday 23 for last Friday’s 32-9 Guinness Series triumph over Wales, with Billy Burns providing back-up at out-half to Jonathan Sexton.

However, a hamstring injury has put the latter on the sidelines for this weekend’s trip to Twickenham, and Byrne is set for only his second start at Test level.

He previously donned the number 10 jersey in August 2019 – a Rugby World Cup warm-up match against England. While that Twickenham tussle ended in a chastening defeat, Farrell has no doubts about Byrne’s big-game nous.

“He deserves it. He deserves the chance. It’s like others. How do you find out about how they cope with the big games and the big occasions unless you give them a chance?”, said Farrell, speaking at today’s team announcement press conference.

“We can’t just give them a chance of picking them in a squad and just training the whole time. Ross has been involved in some big games for Leinster and this is his chance to go to Twickenham and be part of a great team performance as well.

“He’ll play his own game. Everyone is different, everyone has got a different temperament. Ross will be his own guy at the weekend and how Ross tends to play the game is very calm, cool and collected.”

Elsewhere, Peter O’Mahony’s excellent performance against Wales has seen him retained in the back row, only this time he moves to openside flanker with CJ Stander in on the blindside.

O’Mahony more recently filled the blindside berth – and came away with only his second international try – in last year’s Rugby World Cup pool victory over Russia. He also memorably lined out on the openside in the final game of Ireland’s 2018 series win over Australia.

Considering how much he brings to the table, Farrell found it impossible to leave him out of the team – despite the strong claims of Will Connors, who is selected on the bench.

“Obviously no player can do anything but be themselves. What is Pete’s skill-set? We know how great he is in the lineout and we saw that last week. We know he’s unbelievably good over the ball.

“We know he can play an eyes-up type of game with ball in hand as well. I thought his physicality last week was awesome.

“I thought he got on the ball and carried the ball hard as well. We expect Pete to be nothing more than that. He’ll be a threat no matter what, because he’s a great player for us.”

Although the cat was already out of the bag yesterday when he was put forward for media duty, today’s team announcement confirmed James Ryan as team captain in place of the injured Sexton.

Before beginning his current role as Ireland head coach, Farrell had been working closely with the towering lock in his capacity as the team’s defence coach.

He has never had any doubts about the qualities Ryan possesses, but has noticed the 24-year-old Dubliner shouldering more responsibility since he took over the main job from Joe Schmidt.

“I think over the last couple of years everyone has talked about James being a potential leader for this team, a potential captain for this team.

“I saw something nine months ago when we went into the Six Nations, the start of the Six Nations, where he started to think probably, while people are talking about me in this vein, maybe I should start doing something about it.

“He has 100% come to the fore in his curiousness about how he wants to lead, etc. I’ve been super impressed over the last nine months with how he handles himself, first and foremost, and how he interacts and thinks about others as well.”

In the recent history of this fixture, England’s physicality has tended to dominate both the pre and post-match analysis.

Farrell felt his charges did not have an opportunity to impose themselves on Eddie Jones’ side during their 24-12 defeat at Twickenham back in February, but is confident they can be more abrasive this weekend.

“There’s a reason why teams can be physical. Teams that are physical tend to have a flow to their game, play in the right parts of the field,” he added.

“We know that England’s game is very much a territory-based game and they try and force errors upon you, and play in your half. We weren’t able to be physical in our game in our last outing at Twickenham because they harassed us in many areas really.

“We weren’t quite clinical enough in our exiting, in our set piece, etc. When things start to go wrong like that, the other team tends to get an opportunity to be physical.

“If things start to go our way and we’re able to play on the front foot, I’ve absolutely no doubt that we’ll be physical back at them.”

Posted in International Rugby | Comments Off on Autumn Nations Cup Build-Up To England Away: Andy Farrell – – November 18 2020

Autumn Nations Cup Build-Up To England Away: Keith Earls – – November 18 2020

‘The Competition For Places Is Through The Roof’ – Earls

By Daire Walsh

Andy Farrell’s already considerable back-three options were offered a further boost when Keith Earls returned to fitness ahead of last Friday’s opening Guinness Series game against Wales.

The Munster star was initially sidelined for the final two rounds of the Guinness Six Nations with a back injury but, following a successful period of rehabilitation, he earned a spot on the bench for the 32-9 win over the Welsh.

Although it was a relatively short run-out (nine minutes), it brought Earls up to 85 caps. Since his most recent appearance in green last February, Hugo Keenan, James Lowe and Shane Daly have been added to Farrell’s squad.

Echoing the sentiments of Andrew Conway, who was on media duty at the IRFU High Performance Centre just before Earls, the competitors for the 11, 14 and 15 jerseys are driving each other on rather than trying to hinder their progress.

“I’ve been in the last couple of weeks, the same length of time as the lads,” said the 33-year-old. “Even though I was injured, I was still trying to give a hand and learn a bit off the lads as well.

“The competition for the back-three has gone through the roof. With Hugo and James. Shane Daly as well, Conway and then you take in the likes of Jordan (Larmour), who is injured.

“The competition is through the roof and in fairness to all the lads, there’s no one holding back. We’re keeping each other on our toes. We’re telling each other things that we see and we might see stuff differently. It’s a good friendship between us all.”

Should Earls be selected for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup second round tie at Twickenham, he will be facing England for the 11th time in his career. He has been on the winning side in four of those past encounters, including the Grand Slam clincher in London in 2018.

There has been contrasting fortunes for the two teams since then, with Ireland currently in a transitional phase after a difficult 2019 and England backing up last year’s march to the Rugby World Cup final by winning the Six Nations title in recent weeks.

Determined to make amends for their recent underwhelming performances against the English, Earls acknowledged: “When you take into consideration the last couple of times we’ve played them, we’ve been beaten well.

“We didn’t throw many shots the last couple of times we played against them. We’re going to concentrate on ourselves and hopefully put ourselves in a position to throw a couple of shots and take a couple of chances.

“We’ll see where we go from there. I think the squad we’ve built over the last couple of years is well capable, no matter who we’re missing, of going on to beat world-class teams.

“That’s what we’re going to concentrate on this week, prepping ourselves and putting ourselves in the position and hopefully then throw a few shots. No doubt, it’s going to be a tough game. It always is, but the big thing is we have to go over and throw shots this time.”

When Jonathan Sexton made his Ireland debut against Fiji at the RDS in November 2009, Earls grabbed a brace of tries in a 41-6 win that night.

He contributed the same haul in June 2017 when Ireland defeated the USA on a scoreline of 55-19 in New Jersey as part of a summer tour that also saw them play two Tests in Japan.

Making his debut that day was young lock James Ryan, who will take over the captaincy from the injured Sexton at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon.

Ryan made an immediate impact on his international bow, which was also his first professional game, by running in a try shortly after his introduction in place of Quinn Roux. Even in those early days, the range of his talent was clearly evident to Earls.

“He was fairly quiet, but you could already see the leadership qualities that he had, the way he prepared himself, how he went through his detail, how he prepared off the field.

“When he took to the field, he was a different animal. He scored with his first touch in international rugby, but he’s been incredible (since then). He has come on in leaps and bounds.”

Indeed, Earls paid Ryan the highest compliment imaginable by comparing him favourably to his former Munster and Ireland team-mate Paul O’Connell. He added:

“It’s just his mannerisms and the way he comes across, the way he speaks. Everyone just listens straight away. He’s got that presence and that’s even off the field.

“He’s constantly working, he’s constantly looking at lineouts. He trains hard in the gym. For a young lad, his body has been through a lot already.

“He just turns up every week. It’s quite similar to what Paulie would have done. He’d do whatever it takes to get the win on the weekend.”

Posted in International Rugby | Comments Off on Autumn Nations Cup Build-Up To England Away: Keith Earls – – November 18 2020