Anguished Ireland players left to wonder why they were unable to walk the walk

All the messages were right before kick-off, but they didn’t translate into a first half performance.

Sean Farrell reports from the Millennium Stadium

THE FULL POST mortem will come. For now, there is still only shell shock for Ireland’s players after their 43 – 20 defeat to Argentina sends them out of the Rugby World Cup at the quarter-final stage.

Shell shock, and questions: what happened? Why? What if..?

IrelandÕs Conor Murray Devin Toner Rob Kearney Rory Best Dave Kearney and Chris Henry after the second Argentina try Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“I can’t, to be honest,” said Dave Kearney with a face heavily coated in disappointment when asked to identify the root cause of Ireland’s naive opening 10 minutes.

“Nerves? I don’t really know. We talked about getting a good start. We talked, but we didn’t do that. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what it was.”

One suspect area was clear to see from the Millennium Stadium stand even at the stages when the outcome wasn’t because of Ireland’s almost-comeback from 17 – 0 down. The defensive line speed was several yards off the pace from the excellent standard set seven days ago.

“That’s the main thing, our defence,” explains Devin Toner.

“We didn’t get off the line, we didn’t space right, we just let them get outside us. It springs from how we are at the ruck, people getting outside us, getting around the corner… so, it’s something we learn from I suppose.

(the opening 15 minutes were) pretty frantic. We were getting very narrow, they were getting width on their game, getting outside us. But we said all along they’re a dangerous side and credit to them, they were awesome today.”

A primary reason for the shocked disappointment both players and supporters are feeling is because Ireland did talk such a good game. The Pumas were never underestimated, but Ireland were confident in their ability. Yet despite the constant reassurances that the ‘homework’ handed out by Schmidt makes players almost interchangeable, there was no replacing the loss of five key members of the starting line-up in the space of 10 days.

“We’re not going to look for excuses,” nodded replacement hooker Richardt Strauss.

“All the teams had injuries at different stages on the tournament and have been fighting their way through.  We always back the 15 lads on the field and the 23 in the squad. Today we weren’t good enough.”

Devin Toner and Eoin Reddan dejected after the game Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

While Strauss was relatively fresh having played fewer minutes and Toner taking sharp intakes of breath to keep the full extent of his despondence under wraps, Dave Kearney found it more difficult keep the anguish of defeat from his face.

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After all, it was an emotional rollercoaster out there. Ireland scrapped their way back from the dead only to be cruelly killed off.

“We were too slow getting off the blocks and really let the Argentinians come at us. Fair play to them, whenever we gave them any space they took it.


“We did well to get ourselves back in to he mix, but probably let ourselves down again.”

“We weren’t giving them space and then…” the vivid recent memory is difficult for Kearney to scratch at, but he was good enough to keep going, keep talking when, really it’s the last thing any player in his position wants to to.

“The message at half-time was that we knew what we could do, and we knew we could get back in to it.

“The belief was there, but we didn’t turn it in to actions.”

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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