Ireland’s lacklustre 25 – 7 defeat to Wales in the Principality Stadium yesterday brought a grueling and underwhelming Six Nations campaign to an end- and it has not been met with mercy from the Irish media.
Far from it.
St Patrick’s Day has signaled open season on Joe Schmidt’s men. Just three months ago they were the toast of the nation after defeating the All Blacks on home soil for the first time. Now a target is writ large on their backs.
Eamonn Sweeney wrote in the Irish Independent:
“Pathetic. Pitiful. Practically pointless…The end of an era feel to it all evoked memories of similar displays in the dying days of the Eddie O’Sullivan and Declan Kidney reigns.”
“Forget your World Cup fantasies. Turn Ireland over. We’re done.”
Roy Curtis, writing in the same publication suggested:
“The last 50 days have unspooled as crippling anti-climax, a brutal, slow-motion car-crash.
“Ireland are suddenly an unmoored elevator, clacking helplessly downwards through the floor. Lost momentum is notoriously difficult to rediscover.”
“Sexton had surely his most ruinous 80 minutes in an Irish shirt: His kicking radar completely malfunctioned, he sent simple passes straight to touch, he turned-over ball.
“It was as startling as observing a grand-master struggling to recollect the basic rules of chess.”
Gavin Cummiskey in the Irish Times described some of Ireland’s decision making as uncharacteristic unthinking, describing a Conor Murray decision to kick away possession as ‘brainless’:
“It was brainless rugby by a team that prides itself on street smarts.”
Former Ireland lock Neil Francis, famous for his biting criticism of pretty much anyone and anything worth having a pop at was in relatively generous form, sparring his poison pen for Sean O’Brien.
“As for some of Ireland’s heroes, this match marks a watershed. We might not see some of yesterday’s participants in a green jersey again. I’m always relieved when someone is delivering a eulogy and I realise I’m listening to it. Sean O’Brien had the most listless performance of his illustrious career in a green shirt.”
“Our half-backs need to go and reinvent themselves at their provinces and in the Heineken Cup, an arena where I think they might thrive. The candles have been burning low in Joe Schmidt’s cathedral recently: there have been no voluminous canons of play, no invention, no surprises, no continuity, no wit or dazzle and quite often when his teams win, all of his players play well.”
Former Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris speaking to RTE wasn’t afraid to single out a former backrow colleague:
“As a collective they have been off the mark, but individually they have too. Today was a nightmare for Johnny Sexton. Conor Murray couldn’t get himself into the game. Rory Best didn’t have his best game, Peter O’Mahony was non-existent, as were a number of other players.”
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