Wales v Ireland Match Reaction

A classic ‘game of two halves’ started with two prominent absentees. Warren Gatland’s appointment as Lions coach has left his Welsh team without their galvanising force and they looked shorn of purpose for much of the first half. Justin Tipuric’s omission amazed the Mole, particularly in light of Ryan Jones’ thumb injury.

Tipuric is the form Welsh player in Wales, continuing from where he left off last season. The variability of Sam Warburton’s performances has left me unconvinced about his bona fides. Like Ryan Jones before him, the onus of Welsh captaincy seems exhausting and he has been unable to sustain the form that made him so prominent in the RWC and during the Grand Slam season. Warburton’s performances for Cardiff have been unimpressive and one wonders if Gatland, more ruthless than Howley, would have persisted with him at Tipuric’s expense.

In their two most recent meetings, Gatland has nailed Kidney. This time it was Kidney’s turn and Ireland exposed the Welsh systems and selections. Neither side chose to contest the breakdown with much intensity once the tackle had been made. Perhaps this is due to Poite’s refereeing and teams decide to err on the side of caution with the French man in charge. More likely it is due to the preferences of the defensive coaches and where they direct their team to apply energy.

Commentating on BBC, Martyn Williams noted that “the Welsh usually use an out-to-in blitz defence” and this was a feature of Shaun Edwards’ Wasps teams. Ireland’s lineout maul, Conor Murray’s threat around the fringes and some good lines from close in runners attracted Welsh defenders in close. This made the blitz a riskier option and Sexton’s deep alignment allowed him time to choose his options. In the first few minutes he twice grubbered in behind the Welsh and gave Ireland field position. In the eighth minute JJV Davies blitzed but Sexton was too deep and his hands too good as he freed O’Driscoll. The massive dog leg created by a missed blitz wasn’t fully exploited but left room enough for Ireland to get quality field position. From there Ireland repeated the dose and Jamie Roberts’ decision to compete at a ruck after tackling left Wales short of backs out wide.

It took two excellent passes from Sexton and O’Driscoll, along with a clever decoy from Kearney, to put Zebo away. Ireland executed well and Zebo served notice of his poacher’s ability at the highest level. Davies and Cuthbert were caught in no man’s land: tempted to blitz but left short by Roberts’ decision, no one made a strong tackle and Ireland were off the mark. O’Driscoll’s pass in particular was all class. In 2008 it looked like his hamstrings were gone but a changed conditioning regime has seen a leaner, more flexible O’Driscoll continue at the top for another five years. The threat of what he might do buys him time against defenders who don’t know whether to commit to him or not. Often they’re right to be afraid and his vision and ability to create space for his team mates must be set aside his hunger close to the line. At the top level he is still top drawer and the contrast with JJV Davies was noticeable. Davies is a fine player but he threw two straightforward passes into touch and handed Ireland back the initiative on both occasions.

If Wales’ hallmark of defence is blitzing then Ireland’s is the choke tackle. Both sides showed the rugby league antecedents of their defences by ceding ruck ball and creating a line across the pitch but Ireland were prepared to put a lot of effort into creating mauls. Here again Kidney’s coaching staff had done their homework and Ireland targeted Wales’ weaker ball carriers in particular. Missing Ryan Jones and Bradley Davies in the forwards, Wales occasionally used Coombs, an unfit Ian Evans and Matthews Rees to carry. Ireland pounced on this opportunity and created turnovers that they attacked purposefully off. A strip of Ian Evans created a counter attacking opportunity for Ireland and Conor Murray put Peter O’Mahony down the wing for a lot of yards.

O’Mahony is a puzzling footballer. He’s a good runner and handler but he’s not involved enough at all for my tastes. On a day when Donnchadh Ryan, Sean O’Brien, Cian Healy and Rory Best got through a mountain of work, O’Mahony departed on fifty minutes looking relatively fresh. You could see why Kidney wanted to experiment with him at openside last year; his skills are made for a linking flanker akin to Gleeson or Cabannes. He’s just not involved enough, particularly when compared to Tipuric who admittedly was fresh in the second half.

One of the reasons why Wales used the likes of the runners named above is that Jamie Roberts wasn’t fully fit. Roberts has been the scourge of Ireland in recent encounters and when he is on form he is a potent weapon. The flip side of being a big man with fast twitch fibres is that injuries are more likely to be incurred. Roberts has struggled with fitness all season and Ireland will be pleased to meet Wales now rather than in a few weeks’ time. Roberts will cause damage as the tournament progresses provided he stays injury free.

By half time Wales were twenty points down and the selection of Shingler was called into question in the minutes before the break when he ignored a five on four overlap against a doglegged disorganised Irish defence with the heavy artillery outside him. If the pass had gone a try was odds on and it would have been 20-10. Instead he took contact, Ryan slowed well and his misery was compounded when he gave away a penalty in front of the sticks that allowed Ireland a twenty point lead. Shingler’s selection showed again that glitches not apparent in club games can be exposed at international level.

Unfortunately Ireland were discovering that with Craig Gilroy and the young Ulster winger was struggling with his counterattacking and kicking. Time and again during the game Wales kicked to Gilroy and time and again he returned the ball to one of their runners in plenty of space or put it straight in. Stuart Lancaster will have looked at the tape and Farrell will target Gilroy should Kidney select him next week. I’d start Fitzgerald ahead of him which seems tough but the autumn and summer series are the time to give younger players experience. The Six Nations is Ireland’s priority.

Gilroy wasn’t the only member of the back three below form. Rob Kearney, normally imperious in the air, failed to win any of his duels and that stymied Ireland’s counterattacking game which is based on him reclaiming steeplers. With Ireland’s kicking game misfiring, the Welsh were able to gain a foothold in the second half and the arrival of Tipuric on 44 minutes looked tardy as the pace of Welsh attack increased noticeably with the trademark blue scrumcap on the pitch.

Fortunately Ireland’s tackling was heroic although Keith Earls’ positioning for Cuthbert’s try call his credentials as an international centre into question. Wales got their big men the ball in the second half when the power and pace of North and Cuthbert in particular was a potent reminder of the threat they pose. Ireland may have caught Wales at the best stage of the tournament as they have some quality players to reintroduce and other proven campaigners who will benefit from the game time.

From Ireland’s point of view, the coaching staff can take a bow for some tactical calls which bore fruit and sets them up for a tilt at the title. It’s a decade since Wales have lost more than one game in the Six Nations in Cardiff and England will not relish their trip to the Millenium. A Sunday kick off is less craic for fans but the extra day’s rest will be appreciated by an Ireland team that should have a clean bill of health for England’s visit. The game was played at a ferocious pace which will stand to the team and Ireland’s leadership core is in good form.

All told, it was a cracking opening weekend and Italy’s victory against France in Rome is a harbinger of things to come in the Six Nations. The Celtic nations’ decision to allow the Italians compete in the RaboDirect Pro 12 is to be applauded. Zebre are still struggling to find an identity but the transfer of the franchise to Rome would help grow the game in a populous and wealthy nation. The Mole opined last year that Italy will win a Six Nations before 2020 and results like Sunday’s make that notion seem less fanciful. The sound of a modern coliseum bom-bom-ba-bomming their way through one of the great anthems is just another reason to cherish a venerable tournament that still has it in spades.

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46 thoughts on “Wales v Ireland Match Reaction

  1. Just two points, I think O’Mahoney took a knock to the head (so they said on BBC) and Earls can hardly be blamed for being thrown into 12 and asked to defend what was a pretty deadly line from a 6’4” flying winger. If it was even a straight on tackle he would have been hard to stop.

    • Re: Earls, that’s surely the point? If anything, a big man in the 12 channel is easier to take than a big man in the 13 channel as he has less of a run up and less room to manouver.

    • Earls shot up out of the line, misread Cuthbert’s angle and lost his footing when he tried to recover. As I recall there was only one decoy runner who was covered by the man inside Earls so it was a fairly meat and veg defensive read for an Intl centre.
      .

      • I thought POM was just short of having cartoon birds flying around his head so I would be pretty positive he went off for a concussion & definitely wasn’t looking fresh to me. If he hadn’t been subbed he’d be in the concussion bin anyway. I agree he’s a puzzling player tho. A lot going for him but some still missing. being so hyped at such a young age probably not helping but I thought he had an immense 50 minutes.

        Regarding Earls it was an absolute howler true. I did feel sorry for him as he was fresh on at 12 but also that he really seems to miss the marquee tackles as it were. That will be added to the Tualagi mishap & used as a stick to beat him with by people who already don’t rate him. In some ways fair enough but then again he made 9 other tackles in 36 minutes on Saturday. Saying he can’t defend isn’t the whole story

      • @Kate – the story is always long though and tough to tell in a comment 😉 The sad reality is that we have no international quality centre ready at the moment, which is insane given we knew this day was coming.

        Marshall looks like he will do the business at 12 (and Hanrahan is a great prospect for somewhere) but there is still no 13 out there who you would trust against the top 8 sides in the world unfortunately.

        Personally, I had high hopes for Eoin O’Malley, who’s a lovely footballer. It remains to be seen whether he will make it back from his injury(ies). He is apparently fit for selection this weekend. Even if he does though, he has missed a crucial season, when we really needed to bring a new 13 through. Darren Cave is a great player for Ulster but am not convinced he has what it takes at international level either.

  2. A game of two halves, at least Poite seemed to have decided on that before the kickoff, (yeah banging on about the ref again, this blog doesn’t have enough petty small mindedness so I thought id help.) The O’Mahoney and Gilroy points are moot, but both had good games and justified their selection. Gilroy’s defense was more solid than even I, as a great believer in his talent, was expecting, while the inclusion of Earls on the bench to cover 11-15 ahead of two of the countries most versatile outside backs was another one of those disappointments I’ve came to expect.

    What about Mike Ross, that was a great show from him, the scrummaging was in general very good but his carries and defense was almost back to its very best, Fitzpatrick’s cameo was heartening also, overall id take this to be one of those good omens.

  3. Nice post Mole. Big shout has to go out to the front 5. Their shift in the first 50 minutes won us the match. Whether the ball carrying of Healy, the breakdown menace of Best, the scrummaging of Ross, or the utter grunt of McCarthy and Ryan. The front row, particularly, is totally irreplaceable based on available resources.

    I share the analysis of O’Mahony. He definitely had a good game but it wasn’t clear what his role was. The England game seems to be even more crying out for a natural 7 like Henry – with possession being key. I don’t see Kidney replacing either O’Mahony or O’Brien though – as they both put in good shifts. If he does, I will truly take my hat off to the guy.

    To be fair to Gilroy, while he was exposed returning kicked ball, he defended shrewdly. He made a couple of well time man and ball hits when Wales had overlaps. Given his size, and the overlaps, it was the only play available but a high risk play, which worked.

    At some point, even the strongest believers are going to have to accept that Keith Earls is not an international centre. If Kidney does win a new contract, the sooner he acknowledges it, the better. We cannot build a team around Earls at 13.

    I doubt Kidney will make any unenforced changes.

  4. Don’t get how people think POM played well. He did a couple of good carries but only made 6 tackles(missing 1).Granted he went off on 52 mins but still lowest of the pack. Compared to SOB’s 23 and the 2nd rows in the high teens its not enough from a 6.

    • For me it seemed he wasn’t clear of his role but he did pop up around the place and was willing. The second rows and SOB put in truly gargantuan defensive shifts, so tough to match up there. With Nigel Owens as ref and the need to try and rob England of possession, there is surely a very logical argument for starting Henry (also combined with the fact England never use the back of the lineout). Hard to see Kidney changing a winning formula though. That wouldn’t be the man we have come to know.

    • The possible reason why POM didn’t make so many tackles is more than likely down to the fact that Ireland were doing more attacking when POM was on the pitch. Do you have the tackling stats to halftime?

    • I think it’s pretty clear that the reason he made fewer tackles is that there were fewer tackles to be made while he was on the pitch, i.e. the tide turned right around the time he went off (by no means am I trying to say his absence was the cause of the tide turning, just observing that Ireland were in attack for most of the time that he was on the pitch). I don’t remember exactly when the Welsh started to make serious ground, but let’s say it was IMMEDIATELY after Sexton converted O’Driscoll’s try on 43 minutes. That means O’Mahoney had a maximum of 9 minutes to accrue tackles during the period that there were the most tackles to be made – 9 minutes out of the 37 that the rest of the pack had. Obviously the first half wasn’t ENTIRELY one way traffic, but there were obviously very few tackles to be made compared to after O’Mahoney went off.

      As for why people think he played well, I’d imagine the fact that he out-gained everyone bar Gilroy (and wingers would be traditional leaders in metres run, certainly more than flankers) despite only playing fifty two minutes probably has something to do with it. Of course metres run is one of the flashier metrics, and there are certainly ways to play well without making a lot of ground, but if you do make a lot of ground it seems reasonable to say that you’ve done at least reasonably well.

  5. On Gilroy – his kicking game isn’t his strongest suit, no doubt about it, and that’s been fairly evident for Ulster despite some nice punts here and there. But with two good kickers in the back three and Sexton that should not be exposed; one of them should be backing him up and saying “Give the ball to me”. Given how long England kick and how poor their kick chase is, that should be doable most of the time.

    Speaking of Kearney, was it he who passed the ball very early to Gilroy without fixing Halfpenny of that first-half beating of the blitz defence you mentioned?

    • Yeah Peat – that was such a missed opportunity. Davies rushed out of the line but super-quick hands from Sexton released BOD. The next Wales defender lost his footing but BOD did not notice so a potential 3 on 1 was lost. The pass from BOD was actually high and slightly behind RK causing him to check his run slightly – and then he passed very early to Gilroy. The intention has to have been to give Gilroy the ball in enough space to make his wonderful footwork count. Hopefully we’ll be sharper next week and similar line-breaks are converted
      .

  6. Pingback: Primera jornada del 6Nations. Què se’n diu pel món | AVANT

  7. For those criticizing Earls on Cuthbert’s try he was marking an outside man and Zebo was moving toward the spot where Cuthbert came through but was smashed out if it by a crossing and blatant block/obstruction by Roberts. Earls had no chance after that but if Roberts hadn’t taken out Zebo that try would probably have been stopped. Meantime Kearney stood out on the wing, unemployed

    • Kearney ran the block for BOD’s carry for Zebo’s try. Blocking/crossing/obstruction happens and it seems like it’s here to stay. I’ve seen Poite call obstruction last year a few times maybe it’s just one more facet of the game he couldn’t be arsed dealing with.

    • Sorry but for me that channel is Earls’ responsibility regardless of what happens outside him. That close to the line, defence is always man on man with the full back taking the outside man. Bottom line: Earls didn’t guard his channel. Whether that’s because he went flying out of the line or because he didn’t trust the men outside him is secondary.

      Following from this point, Earls is in danger of becoming a modern day Paddy Wallace – second choice in 4-5 positions and shunted around to close the gaps. Not good for him in the long term as he can’t settle with a position and work on the skill set needed to thrive at internaitonal level.

    • I wouldn’t criticise Earl’s for it. Your assertion that it wasn’t his man is correct. Earl’s read it and by that stage it was too late so he was beaten inside in a channel that Zebo should’ve covered. I wouldn’t call Robert’s block a smashed out of it situation though.

      I’d like to see someone push the blocker/decoy directly in front of the runner at some stage during this 6N’s with the aim of knocking him over and tripping up his trailing runner. It seems so obvious to push him over into the space he’s creating but no body does it. Accidental offside.

      • God. I didn’t watch it again but you did it to me. It really doesn’t look any better for Earls no matter how many times you watch it ABROG. He shoots up past nobody to do nothing. He should not of shot in that situation. End of. Naive play at best.

  8. If Tommy Bowe were fit he’d have been able to move into 13 – or even 12 – from the wing. Even Andrew Trimble would have been a better choice than Earls on the bench.
    Going forward I can see Bowe as the best 13 to replace BOD – big boots to fill indeed – but he has pace AND size and strength that Earls lacks. Marshall at 12 when Darce moves on.

    I feel sorry for Earls, he’s been in BOD’s shadow for ages, and there are now better & younger players than him on the wings and FB. He’s not big enough for 12, and is small even for a 13 (Tuilagi / Earls is a mismatch). There’s always a player or two that seems destined to just miss out.

  9. yeah POM did mulitple ineffectual carries, his hallmark.
    look at the other carriers, healy , SOB. managed to do plenty of carriers and great work rate/tacle count.
    cant afford to have him on the team.
    as mentioned before, whats his role.?

    not sure how earls defence can be defended.
    other options need to be explored.

    • O’Mahony statistically gained the most yards of the entire pack, what are you talking about? (and in 30 mins less than the rest of them)

      • i have just rewatched the first 55 mins just looking at POM.
        heres a summary of his work, he did two carries in the wide wings (where he was sitting up shop), these were easy carries where his speed ate up the yards and i suspect where he gained his good stats. his did bout 4 pick and goes from the base of the rucks which were pretty standard and made about a yard. there were 2 carries closer in which i was impressed with as he managed to get behind the gain line(bout a yard but go forward ball).
        he was boshed back by falatou (and taken down with a team mate bout 2 yards backwards) and later missed him on the wings (obviously he’d taken a boot to the back of the head a play or so earlier).
        he never once made it first to a ruck. and hit them quite poorly in general.
        didnt get one turnover.
        his work rate in the first half was really poor.
        he won one lineout where there was no lift, lost the other two.

        and people have mentioned the fact that we were in the ascendancy in the first half, this is obviously true. but, wales actually had plenty of possession and the likes of obrien, heaslip, ryan were making phenomenal tackle counts and work loads.

        I urge anyone who thinks he played well to watch his 50 minutes just looking at his performance and you might surprised how average it was.There is a caveat, it had to be coaches instructions that he stayed in such a wide channel because I’ve never seen a backrow play like that.for the record I dont dislike him as a player but think he’s highly overrated and everyone jumps on the bandwagon without a second thinking.

      • Jojo’s reply is the way I see it. I think O’Mahony’s skill set is more suited to number eight. https://dementedmole.com/2012/11/01/the-ill-fitting-glove/ I think he lacks the durable physicality for a top class six. His positioning out wide makes him Ireland’s Tom Croft when you’d prefer him to be Ireland’s Ryan Jones.
        He also has a problem tackling on one shoulder and got concussed when throwing his body (and head) across a Welsh player when attempting a tackle under our sticks. This was very similar to an injury he suffered against Northampton in the Heineken Cup last year.http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/16594766

      • The tackling issue is legitimate. It’s a serious risk to his health.

        However, I take issue with Jojo’s comments about the kind of carries O’Mahoney got his yards with. So you think he got a lot of yards out the wings…I was under the impression that all yards were created equal? What does it matter where the yards were gained? So long as they brought Ireland closer to the try line, they were obviously worthwhile. And furthermore your observation that he made yards on the wings appears to validate the apparent management decision to stick him there, wouldn’t you agree?

        As for the carries in close, you call them ‘standard’, but somebody had to do it, right? You have basically characterised two different kinds of carries as more or less useless simply because they don’t suit your argument. According to you, a wing carry is easy, a pick and go is standard, but I assume we can agree that they both count in terms of yards gained? I’m a Munster fan, so you may consider me biased, but I would have started Henry for the Wales game as I thought he’d done enough to earn the spot against Argentina and South Africa. Nonetheless, I was delighted to see what I thought was a pretty impressive carrying performance by O’Mahoney on Saturday – to my eye, a man who can make yards out wide and up the middle, play half an hour less than most of the pack and still make more yards than any one of them, has put in a valuable afternoon’s work.

        As for tackling and hitting rucks, I’d love it if everyone could be Sean O’Brien but that doesn’t seem very likely, does it? Most Irish fans were calling for a more balanced backrow, and as I understand it that implies that a seven will be first to rucks moreso than a six, correct? Therefore, would it not make sense that O’Brien be hitting the most rucks from the backrow (as it seemed to be from my point of view?) I’m not saying O’Mahoney was man of the match or anything, and neither is anybody else, but to devalue his contributions because you’ve decided a six should play seven, or because you’ve decided that some carries are somehow worth less than others, seems illegitimate to me.

  10. Earls was in no man land

    It was a winger screen so he should have taken Cuthbert and did not. Zebo had the decoy man, BOD had first receiver, Gilroy had Davies and Kearney was very employed watching Halfpenny on the wing.

    Earls didn’t think quick enough. Simple as.

  11. I have a strong suspiscion that Kidney will go unchanged against England. Personally I would prefer Henry in for POM and Seanie at 6. Also highly tempted to replace Gilroy with Luke Fitz, as I would be afraid that Lancaster will instruct Farrell to exploit his weak kicking game and target him. Luke’s form has been excellent of late and would be confident about him filling in at 14 or indeed 12 if necessary.

    • For me, the selection of Gilroy was spot on but the utilisation of the player was incorrect.

      With a back 3 of Kearney, Zebo and Gilroy, you’d have bet the house on us running back any kicks – Gilroy was picked at 15 for Ulster recently, presumably to give him experience under the high ball, and that’s exactly what he did and looked dangerous doing it.

      Why pick our best running wingers and then get them to punt the ball back? It made no sense. If your plan is to kick back their kicks, we should have picked Earls or even Luke Fitzgerald (or both) on the wings.

      We know England will put in a boring amount of steeplers to our back 3 but looking at their own back 3, if we boot the ball to them, we will get crushed. Our tactic against the English must be to run the ball back at them and get second phase down Farrells channel.

  12. There has been a lot a talk about O’Mahony’s failings, but Henry didn’t exactly do much better – only 5 tackles, no yards and no turnovers in his time on the pitch. I would have liked to see more from him as he has shown excellent form with Ulster.

    I would really like to see Kidney start using a horses for courses selection like Schmidt does. Just because someone played well against Wales doesn’t automatically mean that he they are the right selection for England. Presumably Kidney modifies his gameplan depending on the opposition, so why not his players.

    • Therein the rub Keith. My take on O’Mahony is somewhat coloured by some of the other media representations of him, namely Keith Wood repeatedly name checking him as a leader in the Irish team and possible future captain and Hugh Farrelly’s lauding him as Ireland’s Richie McCaw. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion but steady on lads! I prefer to judge him on my perception of his merits.
      @space coyote, it’s the opportunity cost of a six hanging out on the wing not creating turnovers that I have an issue with. Sean O’Brien could make the same runs and Craig Gilroy would be even more threatening. However, Gilroy couldn’t make the tackles that Seanie can and its the maximisation of resources that is the issue.
      As for Henry’s stats…O’Mahony’s a better athlete with a higher ceiling. I can understand why O’Mahony has been selected ahead of him but I think that Henry brings a hard earned specialisation to the back row and allows O’Brien to be deployed in his most effective position.

      • Mole, I respect your opinion but Ireland were utterly dominant while O’Mahoney was on the park, except for the last five or six minutes. I’m not saying he was a reason for that, but it seems odd to point it out as if it were a problem that he was on the wing when Ireland had very few problems WHILE he was on the wing. I appreciate that your argument may have validity in theory, but I question if it had any impact in reality. Of course, as Keith implies, such a strategy could well be problematic against England. I would also hope that Kidney at least considers where changes could be made, not only for strategic reasons but also because players are unlikely to get through five matches of the intensity we saw on Saturday without getting injured.

      • Is 7 not O’Briens best position? He certainly looked good there on Saturday and all of last 6 nations. His work rate is huge in the tackle and breakdown and his effectiveness in those areas is only masked by his carrying ability. I read a stat before that said he had the highest number of turnovers in last seasons 6Ns..not sure if that is true but if it is does he not negate the need for ‘Henry the Groundhog’? All the talk is of Henry vs O’Mahony, should it not be Henry vs O’Brien, a battle which O’Brien wins hands down both as a ‘natural 7’ and a ball carrier. The Irish selection was very offensively minded…Zebo and Gilroy on the wings and POM + SOB in the back-row. Also picking their team so early on in the week, I think Kidney was pretty much saying bring it on, we are going to play our own brand of rugby and beat you that way! Henry would not have contributed to this IMO, while being a great 7 he wouldn’t have fit the mould and his ‘core skillset’ was never needed with O’Brien on the pitch.

      • That’s an interesting re-framing of the debate…I don’t know which O’Brien’s best position is, he’s pretty fantastic everywhere. I suppose the reason people boil it down to Henry vs. O’Mahoney is because O’Brien is better than both of them. If O’Brien can secure enough possession to negate the need for Henry, as he did on Saturday, that’s great, but if Ireland struggle at the breakdown, which they did at times last year with O’Brien at 7, I can understand why someone would want Henry’s extra focus on that area.

  13. We all know how Deco likes to play mind games. Any truth in my theory that he asked the backs to play a kicking game to confuse England? Thinking a game ahead but ensuring enough done to win the current game? England won’t know what to expect

  14. @inyourfacespacecoyote of course all yards are not the same. Healys close in carrys off slow ball are far tougher (thus the cliched “hard yards”) and more valuable than a player running the difference of 10 or 12 yards.(2m close in can be worth more than 2 extra on a longer carry) it generates go forward momentum,forces defence to realign etc. I agree POM played one of his most eye catching displays in an Irish Jersey so it is poor timing to be criticizing; he is a work in progress. I think with all the platitudes being directed at him some people are looking for some balance. Jojo gave a good account of those opening 50minutes- re watch it objectively and look at it from the perspective of how he can improve rather than from a perspective of trying to defend him.

    • I understand how variation between yards out wide and yards in close is essential, but by Jojo’s own description, O’Mahoney made yards both in close and out wide. I disagree though, that either is fundamentally worth more than the other. Yards in close enable yards out wide by sucking the defence in, but the same can be said of yards out wide, in that a break up the wing can disorganise the defence.

      Of course O’Mahoney can improve – Mole’s observations of his tackling are just one example. But to say you don’t understand how people think he played well, or to say as Jojo did that his carries were ineffectual, seems unnecessarily harsh to me. He earned some yards in close, and he got some good yards up the wing – both helped the team to get towards the try line.

      Also, someone observed that he missed two lineouts – at the risk of sounding like a broken record in my O’Mahoney defence, one of those was thrown wildly towards the Welsh side by Best.

      • Ineffectual may have been a poor choice of words, I just dont think they were very dynamic or hard to achieve. I wasn’t criticising his pick and goes I just think anyone could have done them, and as its being bandied about how many carries he made, I analysed each of them and i think any number of players could have done them. as i pointed out above, there were two carries that stood out for me as good as he took it in the ten channel and got beyond the game line.He probably only got a yard or so, but i reckon these were is most impressive/valuable yards gained.

      • That’s fine, but I mean, there are a lot of carries that anybody could have done throughout any match. I mean I’m sure Iain Henderson could have done an awful lot of what O’Mahoney did on Saturday…and if he did I would be just as pleased with his performance. I suppose it comes down to what your criterion for a good performance is. O’Mahoney is a far less spectacular player than a Ferris or an O’Brien, so if you’re saying that his carries weren’t of the exceptional variety of those two players, I would probably agree with you. But I don’t think that’s a particular reason to criticise him – I still think he’s a very good player, and that he had a very good game. I’d agree, by the way, that the talk of him as a potential future captain is wildly premature. I think he’s a very good player and I’m glad he seems, to me, to be improving with each game, but I don’t think that Keith Wood highlighting him as a potential future captain is doing him any favours.

  15. Good to see your blog hasn’t lost the pro-Leinster sentiments. Calling out O’Mahony is a standard feature and one that is immediately ignored. Calling for Fitzgerald to replace Gilroy again reeks of Leinster bias. Any criticism for a pedestrian Rob Kearney? Oh no, it appears not. You have a vendetta against O’Mahony because you don’t like Sheahan and Farrelly. Why? Is it because they are journalists and you are a blogger? O’Mahony played well on Saturday. There were plenty of quiet and average performances on Saturday that have been overlooked (convieniently I would say) in favour of more O’Mahony-bashing.

    Demented Mole used to be solid and fair but it’s becoming a little like ‘Whiff of Cordite’ with bad jokes and poor analysis choosing to use bias and tribalism over fair and balanced reporting.

    • There’s no vendetta towards o’mahoney, he’s gettin blown in the media and we are giving our analysis(if you want boring platitudes gerry thornly can be found in the irish times). IMO its a henry v o’mahoney debate, nothing to do with leinster.

    • Any critcism for Kearney? “Gilroy wasn’t the only member of the back three below form. Rob Kearney, normally imperious in the air, failed to win any of his duels and that stymied Ireland’s counterattacking game which is based on him reclaiming steeplers.”

      Your defence of the ultra-tedious Farrelly and Sheahan is equally short-sighted.

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