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TV Wrap - Eddie O'Sullivan sticks the boot in as others stress the 'work-ons' after fitful Irish win

Jamie Heaslip and Brent Pope were reaching for the positives after a stuttering World Cup win.

Updated Oct 3rd 2019, 9:34 PM

ANOTHER UNCOMFORTABLE DAY spent enduring a non-performance when the occasion demanded it most, as thousands across the country tried to skive off work and watch Ireland v Russia on the RTÉ Player. 

What followed was shuddering, stuttering, spluttering and little more than the opening couple of gambits played over and over again to exasperating and limited effect.

(I think we all know where this is going -Ed.) 

But don’t worry if you eventually quit on RTÉ Player – that’s largely how the Irish team played against Russia too! 

(Pathetic -Ed.) 

Just about nobody was impressed by the Irish performance against Russia, in spite of the fact Ireland hacked out the bonus-point win they needed to keep qualification for the quarter-finals in their greasy, unreliable hands. 

niall-scannell-wipes-the-ball-down Niall Scannell wipes the ball down in Kobe today. Source: Jayne Russell/INPHO

Although they were playing against a depleted bunch of amateurs in admittedly sweaty, difficult conditions – “The Kobe Oven” as Donal Lenihan called it – Ireland again brought to a game all of the creative range of Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge.

After the game, Eddie O’Sullivan decided to call it and lay down a gauntlet to his fellow RTÉ panelists, Jamie Heaslip and Brent “Popey” Pope. 

“It was like watching paint dry. This was against a bunch of amateurs, we were 21 points up at half-time, they played a quarter of the game with 14 men and we eked out two tries when the Russians were out on their feet.

“It was just a terrible performance lads, we should call it as it is.” 

In response, we got another peek into the fabulous, gated haven of Rugby Country, where there is no defeat or fatalism, but merely a bend on the endless road to self-improvement. 

Whereas every time the Irish football team fail to express themselves and scythe down a minnow of the game we resort to plaintive laments like “we just don’t have the players” or “we’re better when we’re written off”, Rugby Country converts our failures into “work-ons.” 

“They were effective”, said Heaslip.

“Okay there was a lull in the second half, but they came here with a mission of getting five points, they got that and will move on quickly. But make no bones about it – there’s a lot there to work on.” 

Brent “Popey” Pope, meanwhile, was also keen to accentuate the positives, talking at half-time of the handful of Irish players who had turned in “outstanding” performances in the opening 40 minutes. 

By the end, however, Eddie was in no mood to defer our future turmoil in the faint hope we might improve. “The key takeaway is there are plenty of work-ons. But you can’t come away from every game with something to work on. At some point we need to hone in on the details.” 

Eddie saw parallels to the Japan defeat, in that Ireland started well and then faded.

“All bells and whistles”, said Eddie, “and then it shut down.”

“Popey” Pope was again keen to preach positivity, clinging to the fact anything can happen in a one-off knockout game and added that “we all know they will beat Samoa.” 

“Can they?” asked Eddie. Jamie and “Popey” Pope said yes; “I think Samoa are better than Russia, we will need something more than that”, replied Eddie. 

Heaslip was asked by Daire O’Brien as to whether this was just another instance of the media’s tendency to be overly-critical. 

“I think we have a habit of not staying in the middle of the road, and swinging from one extreme to next.” 

“You be our cats’ eyes”, replied Daire, “tell us where we are?” 

“We just won by a bonus point, we did all we can do, we’d love to score more tries but we didn’t. Get over it.” 

“No problems, nothing to see here so, move on” interjected Eddie with a hint of sarcasm and a dollop of glee. 

Capture Eddie interjects with his 'nothing to see here' line.

Eddie’s point was that, although Ireland may yet stumble to a quarter-final and win it with the one-off performance of their lives, “there was no evidence today we will go to the quarter-final and beat whoever is there.” 

This column hopes to be proven egregiously and embarrassingly wrong, but the “work-on” is being exposed as little more than the faint vocabulary of hope; Rugby Country’s version of Monty Python’s Black Knight, stressing that we really have no reason to worry. 

“‘Tis only a flesh wound!” 

 

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About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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