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Andrew Conway celebrates after the game.
Andrew Conway celebrates after the game.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

'Today was good but there is more in us,' says Andy Farrell

The Ireland head coach was thrilled with today’s win but believes bigger tests lie up ahead.
Feb 8th 2020, 6:19 PM 7,608 16

ANDY FARRELL HAILED his Ireland team after they recorded their most impressive win since November 2018.

Not since the All Blacks were conquered in this ground 15 months ago have Ireland produced a performance as eye-catching as this, a 24-14 victory over Wales, last season’s grand slam champions.

While it’s still too early for people to start thinking about grand slams for Ireland just yet – after all trips to London and Paris lie up ahead – this nonetheless was an impressive win. Certainly Farrell thought so.

“I think we’re in a great place,” the Ireland head coach said. “We had a great week’s preparation and good, honest feedback from the boys in the aftermath to last week’s display against the Scots. And we saw an improved performance today.

“But we all know, the coaches and the players, there is still plenty more in us. That’s what we will be looking forward to address over these next three days.

“Still, look, it was an improved performance; the start was the complete reverse to last week. Whereas last Saturday, we were a little bit passive at the start of the game, today we got an early foothold into  it. 

“From our point of view, we wanted to be nice and physical right through (the game). We had some big moments last week, especially when we had to dig deep to hold on and win the game but we got that (level of intensity) 100 per cent across the 80 minutes today.

“I thought we were excellent. We were on the front foot in defence and attack right throughout.”

It showed. Tries from Jordan Larmour and Tadhg Furlong in the first half were complemented by scores from Josh van der Flier and Andrew Conway after the break. And Farrell didn’t shy away from dishing out the praise to his players.

jordan-larmour-scores-the-first-try Larmour scores the opening try. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Andrew was outstanding,” the Ireland head coach said. “We want our wings to go at it 100 per cent and he defined that. I thought Jacob did the same on the other wing as well. 

“We want to play to space because we’ve got some really exciting backs and we like to give them one on ones. And we created some space for them to play into some holes in that first half, which was really pleasing. 

“We saw a little bit of counter attack as well, from time to time, which is a work in progress for us.”

The praise kept on coming.

On CJ Stander, Farrell said: “He was a guy who has come in for a bit of stick as well but he’s got two man of the matches. Those performances says it all about the guy.”

Stander even received a standing ovation after being yellow-carded in the dying minutes. “I’ve certainly never seen that before,” Farrell said.

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Sexton, meanwhile, was also credited for his display. “He’s in control, isn’t he? That’s what he’s done all his life and that’s what he does best,” Farrell said. “With the added responsibilities of captaincy, I think he’s added to his game, actually.”

Yet for all the big performances, the game could still have turned had Hadleigh Parkes managed to ground the ball in the 55th minute. Had he done so, the gap would have been cut to five points and momentum would have been with the Welsh. 

“Well, of course, it was an important moment,” said Farrell. “But I just got a sense today that no matter what was being thrown at us that we would continue to manage that game superbly.

 “I’ve absolutely no doubt that Wales were really pleased with the half-time result because of the strong wind and obviously we had a few opportunities that we didn’t convert but how we managed that second half against a strong wind was really clinical from ourselves.

“To then get a bonus point win was really pleasing.”

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Garry Doyle

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