Ireland Second Rows in 2016 – The Post-Paul O’Connell Era

toner-ryan_new-zealand

Donnacha Ryan and Devin Toner celebrate Ireland’s victory over the All Blacks in Chicago. They’re neither the most complementary second row partnership that Ireland have fielded in the professional era, nor the most individually talented locks, but they’ve succeeded where more illustrious pairings have failed.

Given the number of headlines sent to print and the variety of plaudits doled out for Ireland’s performances in November, it has been telling that very few of those made a hero of Devin Toner, one of only two Irish players to have gone the full 80 minutes in the three games against Southern Hemisphere opposition.  Continue reading

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Ireland RWC2015 Report Cards – Pt.3 The Backrow

A comment I saw recently that I really liked was “We still obsess about ‘ball carriers’ instead of ‘ball players'”. This back row selection paled by comparison with the original 2011 selection of O’Brien, Heaslip, Ferris, Leamy and David Wallace (who of course missed out through injury). They didn’t lack for effort but couldn’t bring the same impact as that quintet in their pomp. Continue reading

Ruck Marks – Ireland’s Autumn Series

Paul O'Connell's expression says it all. Ireland were seconds away from a first win over New Zealand in history, but it was snatched out of their hands.

Paul O’Connell’s expression says it all. Ireland were seconds away from a first win over New Zealand in the history of games between the two countries, but it was snatched out of their hands.

Amidst no small dollop of carping and moaning about what a pain in the arse it was, we mentioned at the end of the last Ruck Marks article that we’d try and run a similar exercise using Ireland’s November tests as our subjects. We surprised ourselves by actually carrying this through [just like we carried through our tag index … all the way up to ‘D’] with a Boxeresque appetite for dumb labour. Continue reading

The Ill Fitting Glove

Warning: playing for Ireland may prove harmful for your career. Bizarre and unfortunately possibly true.

One of the opinions that has surprised the Mole during the season to date is that Peter O’Mahony isn’t a number 8. It’s not universal but it’s quite widespread and runs contradictory to my own beliefs. Continue reading

Our Friends From The North Pt.1 – Chris Henry’s Coming To Dinner

Chris Henry predicts the number of minutes he’ll get off the bench for Ireland next season.

What looks like having been the sole dog day of the summer fell a month to the day after Ireland’s dismal 60-0 drubbing. Continue reading

The Backrow Debate

When is this guy going to get his Radio Oscar for services to humanity? He should have been Pope, Ted. Or at least president.

How do I love Off The Ball? Let me count the ways: a lot.

It really is a highwater mark for Irish sports broadcasting, a one-program golden age. As a man who turns off an awful lot of radio programming in double-quick time, Off The Ball is the one regular transmission which not only escapes the cull, but is [occasionally] actively sought out on the morning after.  Continue reading

Match Report: Ospreys 19 – 13 Munster

Back on the bottom of the SpecSavers Fair Play League to boot

Munster’s preparations for their key back-to-back matches with the Llanelli Scarlets in the Heineken Cup were staggered by an unexpected loss to the Ospreys.

The thing about the record books is that they don’t draw a picture – they just record the score. In that light, a bonus-point loss to the second-placed team in the league away from home isn’t a bad result. In any other light, it was a terrible result.  Continue reading