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Billy Stickland/INPHO Conor O'Shea and Joe Schmidt before February's Six Nations clash in Rome.
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'A complete embarrassment' - O'Shea criticises reaction to Ireland's performance in the Six Nations
The Italian coach said over-reaction to victory and defeat was also a factor in his time with Ireland.

ITALY COACH CONOR O’Shea said he found the reaction to Ireland’s disappointing defence of their Six Nations title ‘a complete embarrassment’ and that a more realistic approach needs to be taken heading into the World Cup.

The former Irish international said that most Test matches are decided by narrow margins but that the reaction to victory and defeat in Ireland tends to swing wildly on the outcome.

O’Shea, capped 35 times between 1993 and 2000, said over-reaction to victory and defeat was also a factor in his time with Ireland but that social media, along with print and broadcast sectors, made it more sensational now.

“It’s an embarrassment the reaction, being honest,” said O’Shea when asked how he saw Ireland after the Six Nations.

“The difference now is it is just so much prevalent. There is so much more social media, there is so much more media as well. And the levels of expectation.

“A complete embarrassment, the over-reaction. But that is the world we live in, very immediate, very sensational in the way you react. Everyone has the answer. The only way you get people to read you is to make a headline.

“This Irish team did under-perform compared to what it can, of course it did. But so many good players, so much talent.

Dejected Ireland players after the game Morgan Treacy / INPHO Dejected Ireland players after the loss to Wales in Cardiff. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“The U-20 Grand Slam seems to get brushed under the carpet. That was a sensational achievement, when you look at the strength of the other teams in the Six Nations this year.”

O’Shea said that Ireland’s Six Nations will have little bearing on how they do at the World Cup but he foresees the reaction will be predictable.

“Any game on any day can be won at the very highest level, little things change the whole complex of a match, the complexion of a match.”

He said that last year some of the games on a knife-edge went Ireland’s way in the Six Nations, this time they didn’t.

“But that is sport. And if Ireland win and they get to the semi-final and beyond, everyone will go well it was brilliant, the Six Nations actually brought them down to earth blah blah blah, they were always a great side. If they don’t make it, we (will be) told yeah there was a problem.”

O’Shea, having overseen his third Six Nations in charge of the Azzurri and still looking for a first win in the competition, would happily have such problems as he tries to develop the game in Italy.

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“We have a different challenge here. Our challenge is to try and grow a country, to try and grow a team and try and catch up. We are still in the land of moral victories which I hate.

“People are saying well done after France, you are going, well we lost. But that is where we are, where Ireland were a long time ago, moral victories. But we want them to be victories. Ireland are in the land of expectation, they win they are great, they lose they are terrible and there could be a two-point difference in that,” he added.

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