Advertisement

World Cup looms as Ireland look to finish Series on a high in LA

Terry Kennedy and co. have the potential to do something special at the big show.

Terry Kennedy has been a sensation for Ireland this season.
Terry Kennedy has been a sensation for Ireland this season.
Image: Martin Seras Lima/INPHO

A GLANCE AT some of the Ireland men’s 7s players’ social media pages this week only underlines again how rugby takes them to some cool places.

Playing full-time professional 7s is not a lucrative career but it’s one that comes with a fair dash of glamour.

Ireland are in LA for the final leg of the World Series and while they’re keen to finish this 2022 campaign on a high, there’s no doubt that the World Cup in three weekends’ time is the overriding focus for this group of players.

Billy Dardis and co. made history by earning Ireland’s first-ever silver medal at the Toulouse leg of the circuit in May and they’re in line for their highest-ever finish in the Series table, but success at the World Cup would grab far more public attention.

Ireland have been a little inconsistent in the Series this season but there’s no doubt they’ve got the tools to do something special at the World Cup in Cape Town on 9-11 September. When you’ve got world-class players like Terry Kennedy and Jordan Conroy in your team, anything is possible.

The Irish men’s team finished sixth at the last World Cup in 2018 but should be seriously intent on being genuine contenders this time around.

This weekend in LA is ideal prep for James Topping’s side. Pool games against France and Fiji – who can still win the Series outright – will be challenging, although Ireland will be firm favourites to beat Wales in their second fixture. Being in the mix for a top-three finish on Sunday is the aim.

Kennedy has been sensational on the circuit this season and leads the try-scoring charts with a whopping 47, nine ahead of the next best. The former Leinster flyer has developed into a leader, bringing dazzling attacking skills and a demanding edge that drives his team-mates on.

kazuma-nakagawa-and-billy-dardis Ireland skipper Billy Dardis with Japan captain Kazuma Nakagawa in LA this week. Source: Travis Prior/INPHO

Conroy missed a chunk of the Series as he danced with the stars on TV but he’s still among the top 10 try-scorers and remains lethal with any hint of space. The return of Harry McNulty has been key for Ireland too, with his unheralded work at restarts, breakdowns, and in the carry crucial to gluing the team together.

With long-time captain Billy Dardis always a calming influence whose kicking can be so crucial, as well as other stalwarts like Mark Roche and Bryan Mollen still prominent, there is plenty of experience in the Irish squad.

More recent additions such as Ireland U20 international Chay Mullins and Leinster academy duo Andrew Smith and Niall Comerford having settled into the seven-man code comfortably, there is lots to like about this group.

Their form in LA won’t tell us everything about their World Cup chances – anything can happen in any given 7s weekend – but Topping will be eager for his players to look sharp and focused with that trip to Cape Town so close.

There’s no women’s leg in LA, meaning Aiden McNulty’s players continue to prepare away from the excitement of the Series. They too have shown their potential as World Cup contenders in South Africa with some stunning performances this year.

A big few weeks lie ahead for Irish 7s rugby.

Ireland men’s 7s squad in LA:

Exclusive
Rugby Analysis

Get Murray Kinsella's exclusive analysis on the URC interpros and Champions Cup clashes this December

Become a Member

Jordan Conroy [Buccaneers RFC]
Niall Comerford [UCD RFC/Leinster]
Sean Cribbin [Suttonians RFC]
Billy Dardis [Terenure College RFC] (capt)
Ed Kelly [Dublin University FC]
Jack Kelly [Dublin University FC]
Terry Kennedy [St. Mary’s College RFC]
Hugo Lennox [Skerries RFC]
Matt McDonald [IQ Rugby]
Harry McNulty [UCD RFC]
Bryan Mollen [Blackrock College RFC]
Chay Mullins [IQ Rugby]
Aaron O’Sullivan [Blackrock College RFC]
Mark Roche [Lansdowne FC]
Andrew Smith [Clontarf FC/Leinster]

Fixtures in LA:

Saturday 27 August:

Ireland v France, [6.48pm Irish time]

Ireland v Wales [10.09pm Irish time]

Ireland v Fiji [2.05am Irish time]

Sunday 28 August:

Play-offs

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

Read next:

COMMENTS (2)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel