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Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Jmaes Crombie/INPHO A dejected James Lowe at the final whistle in Dublin.
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Farrell has 'mixed emotions' as Ireland's attack fails to fire against France
The head coach rued his team’s failure to score when France were down to 14 players.

IRELAND HEAD COACH Andy Farrell said he had “mixed emotions” after his team’s second consecutive defeat in the 2021 Six Nations. 

With first-choice players James Ryan, Conor Murray, Caelan Doris, and captain Johnny Sexton missing, France were favourites for today’s clash in Dublin and Farrell stated his pride at how Ireland were in the contest until the final whistle of a 15-13 loss.

However, Farrell underlined his regrets that Ireland hadn’t been able to create more in attack and also rued the fact that they didn’t take their one “glaring” opportunity when James Lowe was tackled into touch just after Bernard le Roux’s first-half yellow card.

That aside, Ireland failed to create clear chances on a bad day for attack coach Mike Catt and their only try in the game was a rather fortunate one as Ronan Kelleher regathered a French lineout steal to surge over in the second half. 

“Mixed emotions really,” said Farrell when asked for his assessment of Ireland’s display. “One that’s unbelievably proud of how they handled themselves this week with all the controversy [about Johnny Sexton's head injury] and unbelievably proud of their efforts.

“There was a lot of lads with their work-rate and putting their bodies on the line for their country but at the same time Test matches are there to be won, especially at home.

“And we rue a few decisions that we made when some chances came our way. Even though people were writing us off this week we never wrote ourselves off.

“The game was there to be won. It was a hard-fought contest but it’s one that slipped away from us at the end.

“I suppose we had one glaring opportunity that if we carry the ball another five metres and square up, we probably get that five-pointer and I think it would have drawn the game going in at half time so it’s fine margins.

“You get seldom opportunities in big games like this, especially against a side of the quality of France.”

robbie-henshaw-ross-byrne-james-lowe-and-garry-ringrose-dejected-after-the-game Dan Sheridan / INPHO Ireland were second best in Dublin. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Farrell said he had been disappointed with Ireland’s “game management” in the third quarter of the contest, which saw them lose starting out-half Billy Burns to a head injury, with Ross Byrne coming on, as well as Cian Healy and captain Iain Henderson going for HIAs before returning.

“We kept sending our forwards into some brick walls but look, at the same time, we had opportunities within that middle third to try and get the ball to the edge,” said Farrell.

“Their wingers were obviously taking a chance coming in and jamming, and once or twice we fell into a trap on the edges and two men out got caught.

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“So there were things that we could have done a little bit better and saved a bit of energy for what happened in that last couple of minutes in the long run.”

A dip in performance just after half time is a running theme for this side and Farrell said he and his coaching team need to get to the bottom of the issue.

“It’s something that we certainly need to address, sit down and understand properly because I did speak about it last week and it’s something that I spoke about at half time as well.”

Ireland’s championship hopes have been ended after defeats to Wales and France, but there are still games against Italy, Scotland and England ahead in this Six Nations. Farrell says Ireland’s performances will tell plenty about his group of players.

“Our approach and our attitude doesn’t change,” said Farrell. “I just said to the boys in the changing rooms there that we talk about the strength of the group and how close they are… we will see how strong we are now because we will show our true character because it’s about making sure that for our next three games, we are at our best and our approach doesn’t change.”

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