IRELAND’S rugby stars were at a loss to explain their record 60-0 hammering at the hands of the All-Blacks in the final test of the summer tour series in Hamilton on Saturday.

Captain Brian O’Driscoll labeled it embarrassing and full-back Rob Kearney all but agreed as New Zealand won the series 3-0 just a week after Ireland should have held onto a draw in the second game in Christchurch.

“For us, as a national team, it probably hasn’t been that great a season. A couple of games could have gone our way,” said Kearney as the Ireland players prepared for the summer break.

“I look at the Wales game at home and France away, and last week against the All-Blacks as well. All three of them went against us but that’s sport and we have to move on.”

The world champions ran in nine tries in all in a game that was all but decided in the firs 20 minutes.

O’Driscoll pulled no punches when he spoke to the media directly after Saturday’s record defeat.

“You get sick of that scoreline pretty quickly. It is a difficult one to take today,” he said.

“The second you give them two or three scores by 20 minutes they are a different team. They start to play with a buffer -- they are a bit like France that way.

“They dominated us at the breakdown. They smashed us today and, as a result, we weren’t able to put together many phases. There was an amount of unforced errors on top of that.”

Coach Declan Kidney tried to be positive about the future for the players humbled in Hamilton.

“I have absolutely no doubt that the players here can go on and challenge for top prizes,” he said.

Asked about his own future, he said: “It is an honor to coach your country. I’ve been asked to coach my country and I will continue to do so.

“Right now it hurts. It is easy to hop on the bandwagon right now. We’ve found out a lot of things about ourselves but we will look at that in the off-season.”
Irish Open

PAUL McGinley is looking forward to the sell-out Irish Open at Royal Portrush after fine play on Sunday earned him a tied third finish at the BMW International in Germany last weekend.

“Royal Portrush is one of my favorite courses in the world and I’ve played it a lot over the years, I am really excited about going back there for the Irish Open,” said McGinley.

In other golf news,  Portrush native Alan Dunbar warmed-up for the Irish Open on his home course this week with victory in the British Amateur Championship at Troon on Sunday, a win that earns him an entry into the British Open and the Augusta Masters.
Sports Shorts

CRICKET: Ireland’s scheduled one-day international against Australia in Belfast on Saturday was rained off and abandoned after just 10 overs . . . 

BOXING: Joe Ward’s bid to gain a wildcard entry to the London Olympics has finally been rejected by amateur boxing’s governing body . . .

RUGBY: Ulster have signed scrum-half Michael Heaney and back-rowers Sean Doyle and Nick Williams ahead of the new season.

GAA Shorts

DUBLIN midfielder Eamonn Fennell has warned his teammates they need to be fully focused when they go head to head with Wexford again on Sunday. The teams meet in the Leinster semifinal with Fennell well aware that Wexford almost grabbed the Leinster title off Dublin a year ago when goalkeeper Anthony Masterson made an unfortunate error . . .

RESERVE goalkeeper Johnny Curran has quit the Tyrone squad ahead of next Saturday’s Ulster SFC semifinal against Donegal. Davy Harte should be fit to return to the Tyrone side for that game . . .

CORK legend Teddy McCarthy wants to remain in charge of the Laois hurlers despite their huge 25 point defeat by Limerick in the All-Ireland qualifiers last Saturday night . . .

CLARE will host Dublin and Cork will be at home to Offaly in the second phase of the All-Ireland hurling qualifiers with games to be played on Saturday, July 6 . . .

TOMAS O Se handed Kerry boss Jack O’Connor a boost ahead of the All-Ireland qualifiers when he came through a club game at the weekend after a recent injury . . .

LIMERICK defender Stephen Lavin has quit the county football team to travel to the U.S. . . .

WATERORD star John Mullane has told RTE television sport that he regrets his sideline confrontation with former boss Davy Fitzgerald after his team’s recent Munster SHC win over a Clare side managed by Fitzy. “It didn’t come across well,” Mullane told RTÉ after he was caught on camera confronting Fitzgerald at the end of the match. “Davy said things in the past. He’s obviously going to say it. We’ll sit down some day and talk it through, have it out.”

Sonny Bill Williams gets ahead of Brian O’Driscoll (left) during the rugby match on Saturday.Getty