Dublin: 8°C Thursday 21 October 2021


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We were at Thomond Park in Limerick to bring you all the crazy, fractured action as the Ireland Select XV – to give them their proper title – took on Fiji.

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Ireland 53-0 Fiji

Ireland have scored three tries in their last five games and will be looking to an Ulster dominated backline to spark them into life. How do you think the Irish young guns will fare?

Here are your teams for the ensuing try-fest. Yes, I’m predicting a rainstorm of tries – four at least.

Ireland: D Hurley; F McFadden, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy; P Jackson, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, S Cronin, M Ross; D O’Callaghan, D Tuohy; I Henderson, J Muldoon, J Heaslip.

Replacements: R Strauss, C Healy, M Bent, M McCarthy, C Henry, P Marshall, J Sexton, S Zebo.

Mike McCarthy was a late replacement on the bench for Ireland. There are plenty of youngsters in Thomond Park today as they opened up the ground in an attempt to fill it.

Fiji: M Talebula; S Koniferedi, V Govena, J Matavesi, W Votu; J Ralulu, N Matawalu; J Anuyanutawa, V Veikoso, D Manu; Leonenakarawa, A Naikatini; I Ratuva, M Ravulo, N Nagusa.

Replacements: T Talematoga, M Saulo, S Somoca, A Ratuniyarawa, J Domolailai, K Bola, R Fatiaki, T Matanavou.

These woman have a vested interest in proceedings. It is Caitlin and Keva Gilroy, sisters of Irish winger Craig.

(©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)

Jerry Flannery has been speaking to BBC ahead of the match. Here’s what he had to say: “It is exciting to see the young lads out there. They may not play much in the next six months, but they have a great future ahead of them.”

Kick-off from a Fijian boot and Ireland are in good possession early on. A lot of nifty Movember moustaches on display in the Irish side. Check out the top 10 sporting mo’s here.

Fiji have conceded two penalties already and Cronin has located Tuohy at the first lineout. Good start.

How many tries do you think Ireland can notch up this evening?

Poll Results:

Plus five (121)
One or two (58)
Three or four (42)
None (20)

Fiji offside and referee Leighton Hodges penalises them. Paddy Jackson steps up from 25 metres out, slightly to the left of the posts, and slots it over. Ireland 3-0 Fiji after seven minutes.

TRY! Nagusa barges through and hammers Murray after Jamie Heaslip had been isolated on the floor. The scrum-half does well to retain possession. The Gilroy sisters are going to love this. Luke Marshall drew in his marker on the right wing and timed a beauty of a pass for Craig Gilroy – playing 14 – who dives over in the corner.

Paddy Jackson with a sweet connection out on the right touchline and it is Ireland 10-0 Fiji with 12 minutes gone.

Team correction: Keith Earls is on the Ireland bench instead of Jonny Sexton.

The rain is teeming down in Limerick as Gilroy kicks and chases but Koniferedi is home to mop up. Marshall’s direct running is causing problems for the Fijians but they wrest possession back and rumble up into the Irish half. Ross and Heaslip hold the man up and gain the attacking scrum.

No indication as to why Sexton is missing from the bench but Ireland now have no out-half replacement. Ian Madigan, where art thou? McFadden can take the kicks if need be.

TMO! Looks like McFadden has a try.

TRY! McFadden gets the nod for the five-pointer. He had the momentum to take him over the line and the video ref deemed there was no double movement. Jackson place-kicking like a dream as he gets the conversion to make it Ireland 17-0 Fiji. 21 minutes on the clock.

Marshall, Cave and Hurley all involved in the build-up and McFadden cut in well to score.

We have a third TRY! Marshall and O’Callaghan teaming up well to keep the forward momentum. Play goes out wide and left before Murray locates Sean Cronin, who puts his head down and takes two Fijians over the line. Jackson adds the extras to make it Ireland 24-0 Fiji

Kilcoyne penalised for an illegal arm bind but Ralulu opts to kick for touch and go for an attacking lineout, which Fiji promptly lose. Henderson barges upfield after the ball is thrown too long.

Great TRY by Darren Cave but woeful Fijian defence. He feints to pass to Gilroy but hops on the spot and bounds inside second-row giant Leonenakarawa and rides a challenge to stretch and score. The Ulstermen are doing a job here this evening. I’ve jinxed Paddy Jackson there as he misses his relatively simple conversion chance. It is Ireland 29-0 Fiji after 32 minutes.

I like the looks of Marshall here. He scoops a bouncing ball up one-handed – Brian O’Driscoll style – and reverses his running direction before puncturing the Fijians up the left and offloading in the tackle to Darren Cave.

John Muldoon drops the ball with the tryline gaping. Gilroy made the break and Cronin provided the muscular support but the Connacht flanker didn’t have the composure to convert a simple chance.

SUFTUM: Jackson and Gilroy celebrate. (©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)

Late chance for Jackson to improve his kicking stats and why not. Radidi penalised for a tackle on Hurley. It’s a 35-metre effort from the left-hand side but it goes weakly right and wide. Fiji refuse to kick the ball out and run it out Sevens style before coughing up possession. HALF-TIME

Time for another poll. Who do you think has been Ireland’s stand-out player so far?

Poll Results:

Sean Cronin (121)
Other (83)
Craig Gilroy (58)
Iain Henderson (42)
Luke Marshall (20)

Second half is off and running. Fiji conceding penalties like an away side at Old Trafford.

High praise indeed from a Munster legend and a very good player in the green jersey of Ireland:

Yet another TMO and Fergus McFadden is involved. That was all about Jamie Heaslip, who took a Jackson reverse pass and drove forward with purpose. His flicked pass found McFadden and the winger selfishly, and correctly, went alone and wriggled the ball over and down. Jackson adds the conversion [he likes the tricky kicks] and it is Ireland 36-0 Fiji.

Bad news for John Muldoon as he is stretchered off. He was felled by Conor Murray, accidentally of course. Chris Henry takes his place. 43 minutes gone.

I’d like to see a bit of Michael Bent at this stage. Seems pointless to flog Mike Ross any further when the win is wrapped up safely.

Alan Quinlan is tweeting again – this time about the amount of ‘has beens’ at Thomond Park for the game:

Matanavou gets a yellow card and he is lucky not to see more. A gruesome tip/spear tackle on Conor Murray but the Munster number none walks away in one piece.

The game is getting bogged down in stoppages and Marshall proves he is human twice in three minutes as he knocks on and then throws the ball out on the full. Gilroy, meanwhile, has looked very steady under the high ball. He is playing himself into contention for next week.

Here comes Michael Bent. Healy is already on for Kilcoyne. 28 minutes to prove himself as Fiji have a rare attack.

Some pushing and a smidge of shoving leaves Murray one-on-one with the bearded hulk of a man – Naikatini. Sensibly, Murray laughs off the situation and gets the hell out of the danger zone.

A lot of calls from you on Twitter, asking the whereabouts of Paul Marshall. I was wondering the same thing myself.

Fiji have bestirred themselves. Ireland have been poor at scrum time and Hodges pings them for an early engagement. They camp out on the Irish line. Is this part of the plan? Defence practice.

Henderson, with help from Heaslip, rips possession from Matawalu and Ireland clear. Lineout infringement adds to Fiji’s woes and Jackson deposits the ball deep in Fiji territory. Cronin, Hurley and Murray leave the fray for  Strauss, Zebo and Paul Marshall. 61 minutes have passed. Marshall with a smart kick in behind the visiting defence but they claim their lineout and hoof clear.

Down in our comments section, Owen Harney has made an extremely valid point. He said:

Can’t be an international as game is not being played in the Aviva which is part of the contract agreement with the IRFU. When playing at home caps are only given out when we play at Aviva which is an absolute disgrace. Commercialism gone mad.

What do you think?

Craig Gilroy has been excellent tonight. Strong in the tackle and evasive with ball in hand. Chris Henry is yellow carded for illegally entering a Fiji ruck. It all kicks off soon after as Healy and Radidi had a difference of opinion.

It’s a 14-a-side – that’ll please Fiji’s Sevens players – as Tuapati is binned for a very late tackle on Gilroy.

TRY! A second from Craig Gilroy. Paddy Jackson took possession from Paul Marshall and found Zebo haring down the left. The Munster man drew in the covering defence before setting Gilroy free to drive over. Jackson errs in his conversion attempt and it is Ireland 41-0 Fiji after 71 minutes.

WONDER TRY!! Craig Gilroy sets off from inside his 22 after Fiji’s 13 phases come to nothing. He eludes Govena first and races free. It looks as though he might be caught by Matanavou just past the halfway line but he wriggles free and sprints the rest of the way unopposed for his hat-trick try. Jackson knocks it over to make it Ireland 48-0 Fiji

Five minutes to go and McCarthy comes on for Heaslip as Henry returns to the fray. Can Fiji get a late consolation?

TRY No need for the exclamation point at this stage as Henderson darts into the 22 and sees off some flimsy tackles to set up Luke Marshall for an easy try. Eight is enough!

Paddy Jackson ends the game with another skewed conversion attempt and the final score is Ireland 53-0 Fiji. Gilroy, Marshall, Cronin and McFadden have all excelled and Iain Henderson had a fine outing. FULL-TIME

Declan Kidney has told RTE that the young players like Gilroy – man-of-the-match – and Marshall have given him something to think about in the l;ead-up to a crucial match against Argentina at Lansdowne Road next weekend.

Thank you for joining us for the coverage this evening. Stay with us over the coming hours for comments, ratings and match reactions.

About the author:

Patrick McCarry