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Agony for Ireland 7s as late Kenyan try ends their Olympic medal hopes

Anthony Eddy’s side made a promising start but conceded a late score to miss out.

Harry McNulty scores for Ireland against Kenya.
Harry McNulty scores for Ireland against Kenya.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

IRELAND MEN’S 7s have suffered last-minute agony as they conceded a try to Kenya to miss out on a place in the quarter-finals of the Olympics in Tokyo.

Anthony Eddy’s side needed to win by more than seven points to advance into the quarter-finals and were in position to do so as they led 12-0 with just two minutes remaining, only to see the Kenyans score late on.

While Ireland recorded their first win of the Games with a 12-7 success, it wasn’t enough to keep their medal hopes alive after Group C defeats to South Africa and the US yesterday.

They missed out to Canada for a quarter-final spot by just two points on points difference.

Ireland will rue a handful of missed chances in attack in the second half after enjoying a perfect start in the first half to race into a 12-0 lead.

They will now go into the placing games for ninth to 12th position after suffering this disappointment, taking on the Republic of Korea later today before meeting either Japan or Kenya tomorrow.

Things had started so promisingly in their final Group C game. Hugo Lennox darted over for an early Irish try off a Terry Kennedy assist. Eddy’s men added to their lead when Kenya threw a loose pass under Irish defensive pressure and Harry McNulty scooped it up to score.

Captain Billy Dardis’ conversion had Ireland 12-0 ahead after three minutes and they held that advantage into the half-time break to leaves themselves in position to go on and seal a quarter-final spot.

Jordan Conroy was denied a score early in the second half by some excellent Kenyan scramble defence and he soon knocked the ball on with space beckoning wide on the right.

And Kenya finally managed to hang onto the ball as the game ticked into the closing minutes.

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Ireland appeared to have repelled the onslaught as they forced them into touch down the right but a crooked Dardis lineout throw gave Kenya another chance and this time they punished the Irish as Vincent Onyala crossed for a converted try.

Ireland did have one last opportunity after the Kenyan restart failed to go 10 metres but another error down the left saw the ball passed into touch.

There will be plenty of regrets for Ireland as they now look to pick themselves up again and secure a ninth-place finish in Tokyo.

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Murray Kinsella

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