The Inside Fileby Cillian Ó Conchúir
- ‘Final the only thing in our minds’ – Durcan
- McCarthy sees 4 minutes as Ireland make hard work of Macedonia
- Ireland Class leaves England's Grand Slam in Ruins as 24-8 defeat flatters Johnson
- Heaslip still holds faith in Irish system
- Gallant Ireland fall to defiant French
A first-half of pure class contrasted heavily with an uneventful second half as Ireland brought the Autumn internationals to a close as Ireland defeated Argentina 29-9 at the Aviva, Dublin. Captain Brian O'Driscoll admitted during the week that "all previous games (against Argentina) tended not to be things of beauty", but early on it looked as if todays game may have been the exception to the rule.
After the game Ireland coach Declan Kidney told of his concern for O'Driscoll who had gone for an X-ray with a possible crack in his jaw. "If its just a crack he might avoid surgery and a plate," said Kindey afterwards of his captain, who tried to play through the injury before the med said he needed to come off. The win brought Ireland's record to won two, lost two for the series, and looking back Kidney sees the positives of the last month.
"One of our goals in this month was obviously to win ever match - we didn't. We came up short in two so we have to take a serious look at that. Another was to build a squad and we have been doing that. Today was a good sign for us because you can build all you like at training but they need to go out and prove it to themselves that they can win a tough game.
"Rory Best is going for an operation on his cheekbone on Monday," said Irish Coach Declan Kidney. "Brian (O'Driscol) has gone for an Xray on his shoulder, Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald will have knee scans tomorrow. I wouldn't like to pre-empt any medical opinion - I would just be guessing. And Gordan D'Arcy and Tommy Bowe have tight calves, but we would be hoping they will recover in time (for next week against Argentina)."
It may have taken the arrival of the All Blacks but finally the Aviva got an atmosphere worthy of an international fixture, and despite what the scoreline 38-18 suggests, the Irish players responded heroically as the injury list suggests.
From the first whistle, Ireland and New Zealand played the kind of attacking rugby that was well worth the entrance fee. Dan Carter (on 6, 15 and 29 minutes) and Jonathan Sexton (on 10 and 25 minutes) traded penalties but the Irish defense otherwise held firm.
It has not been a particularly great week for Ireland or TIF. As the International Monetary Fund moved a step closer to becoming the Irish Monetary Fund and TIF found out that 5am does exist, Ireland barely got out of neutral in their final international game of ‘10 against Norway.
Spare a thought for young Seamus Coleman. The 22 year-old full-back come winger has become a key fixture for Everton in the Premiership but sat out Ireland’s midweek defeat. Even a cameraman at the Aviva got in on the action, zooming in on the young Donegal man, as a nation willed Giovanni Trapattoni to bring him on.
As the Aviva’s screens showed a rather cheerless Seamus Coleman on the bench, the blog thought how it would feel to be “the brightest young talent” and called up for a game that “didn’t mean anything” (Kevin Doyle), to sit in the rain for the best part of 90 minutes. Although not a situation that happened often during TIF’s illustrious youth football career, a situation the blog imagines would leave it feeling less than chirpy nonetheless.
After a Jonah Lomu inspired comeback guided the All Blacks to its 13th victory over Ireland in November 2001, then New Zealand coach John Mitchell commented: “That was a great stepping stone in a lot of the boys’ careers.”
Mitchell’s “boys” (New Zealand had 11 debutants between the first two tests of the 2001 Tour against Ireland A and Ireland) came from 21-7 down to dash Ireland’s hopes of a first win. One of the two debutants that started against Ireland that day was Richie McCaw.
Now as captain, he faces another milestone in his career against Ireland as he, along with Mils Muliaina, will become the most capped All Black players of all time with 93 test caps on Saturday.