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'At 7.45 this morning, Nick Timoney got the call to come down from Belfast'

Ireland boss Andy Farrell was delighted with how his side managed injury disruption.

Ireland scored seven tries against the Pumas.
Ireland scored seven tries against the Pumas.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

IRELAND HEAD COACH Andy Farrell praised his team for dealing with injury disruption to overcome Argentina on a 53-7 scoreline as they finished a superb autumn window impressively and stretched their winning streak to eight games.

Having already lost captain Johnny Sexton and scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park to injury during the week following their victory over New Zealand last Saturday, Ireland were also hit by the late withdrawals of Jack Conan and Iain Henderson.

Conan had been named to start at number eight against Argentina but suffered a quad strain in yesterday’s captain’s run, while Henderson was due to start in the second row only to suffer a hamstring injury during today’s warm-up at the Aviva Stadium.

Those injuries meant Peter O’Mahony came into the back row, with Caelan Doris moving to number eight, while Tadhg Beirne started in the second row and called Ireland’s lineouts. 

There was a further blow just before half time as captain James Ryan was forced off with a head injury, meaning Ryan Baird – who was called onto the bench after Henderson’s injury – was sprung onto action earlier than expected.

Meanwhile, Ulster back row Nick Timoney had to race down to Dublin from Belfast this morning after Conan’s injury and made an appearance off the bench in the second half.

“Jack Conan just felt a little something in his quad yesterday and we gave him until this morning to see how he felt when he woke up,” explained Farrell post-match.

“We thought he would be okay but he wasn’t so at a quarter to eight this morning, Nick Timoney got the call to come back down from Belfast. It just shows the strength of the group that he is covering six, seven, and eight and can do it seamlessly.

ryan-baird-celebrates-after-the-game-with-his-mum Ryan Baird with his mother after the game. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Pete [O'Mahony] comes off the bench to play the full game and ends up captaining the side and has a stormer. The most pleasing part is the cohesion we showed as a group.”

O’Mahony himself swatted aside a question about the difficulties involved in the late rejigs but Farrell was keen to hammer home the point.

“He’d be humble enough not to say that it’s tough,” said Farrell. “It is tough because he has to be across three positions and he knows them inside out.

“To give you an example of today, Tadhg Beirne is covering second row and then 6, 7, and 8 this morning.

“All of a sudden, he’s back into the second row and he’s not called lineouts all week. Yet he was calling lineouts today as well today and our lineout was 100% for the first time in quite some time. It just shows the way that these lads are coming in.”

It remains to be seen how Conan and Henderson recover from their injuries as they now return to their provinces.

Another head injury for Ryan, who was hit by concussion during this year’s Six Nations, is a concern but Farrell said the Leinster lock is doing well.

“He’s good. He’s fine in there. He took a little bit of a knock but nothing too serious.”

While the likes of O’Mahony, Beirne, and Josh van der Flier delivered big performances for Ireland today, Farrell was also pleased to see the younger members of his squad making an impression off the bench.

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The game finished with 22-year-olds Craig Casey and Harry Byrne in the halfbacks slots, while 23-year-olds Dan Sheehan and Tom O’Toole were in the pack along with 22-year-old Ryan Baird.

dan-sheehan-celebrates-after-the-game Dan Sheehan impressed off the Ireland bench. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“That’s why I say today was the most pleasing day for me because of how we’ve grown as a group,” said Farrell. “Those lads thoroughly deserved their chance and it wasn’t just the young lads.

“You guys will focus on the young lads and that we’re building nicely with a bit of depth but look at Cian Healy when he came on, look the experience of Earlsie and what he brings to the bench. Pete has been on the bench a couple of times as well and has been exceptional when he comes on, so it’s a squad thing.

“Those lads that you talk about deserved a big block of time. I thought they were exceptional. 

“The two halfbacks came on and sped the game up. It’s there for all to see. Dan comes on and hits nine out of nine and looks such a presence with ball in hand and linespeed defensively as well, so that’s great.

“Ryan Baird – he wasn’t playing until 8 o’clock this morning and seamlessly comes on and has a few big moments as well.

“Tom O’Toole has been around the group for a good while and he has grown massively in maturity as far as his scrummaging is concerned, first and foremost, but in and around the group just as an Irish rugby player.

“I’m so pleased for him because he has been patient enough learning his trade. It’s a tough old position, tighthead, for a young kid and he was exceptional when he came on as well, nice and composed.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from the Aviva Stadium

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