‘That performance wouldn’t be good enough to beat Australia’

Fergus McFadden and coach Joe Schmidt claim Ireland have plenty of room for improvement after victory over Samoa

Ireland’s Fergus McFadden scores his side’s fourth try against Samoa at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland’s Fergus McFadden scores his side’s fourth try against Samoa at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Mon, Nov 11, 2013, 01:00


The Romans so rarely allowed their gladiators optional retirement. We may be no different.

Aged 36, in 1973 Tony O’Reilly came back from a seven-year break, where he focused on some financial activity, to arrive at Twickenham immaculately attired in a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce.

After Saturday’s flicks, fades and snaffling despite just one run out so far this season all these options should be kept open for Brian O’Driscoll.

He would be deep into his 36th year come 2015 when there is a World Cup final at Twickenham. At the very least, these last days of Ireland’s greatest ever sportsman walking the boards are to be cherished.

“Ah, big time,” agreed Fergus McFadden, the mere mortal who gathered O’Driscoll’s Andre Agassi flick before Jamie Heaslip’s adroit clearout and Conor Murray’s swivelling vision ensured Seán O’Brien could tractor over for the try that killed the game.

“It’s been a pleasure playing with him, obviously,” McFadden continued, “and hopefully I’ll play with him for the rest of the season.”

“I don’t know what he is going to do next year. He keeps his cards really close to his chest with everyone, not just the public and journalists.

“He’s a legend. In my opinion, the greatest Irish sportsman of all time, regardless of what he does this year. It has been amazing and long may it continue. Hopefully we’ll have a bit of silverware at the back of it as well.”

Joe Schmidt predicted another level of artistry over the coming weekends. “It wasn’t vintage Drico but it’s a step towards it.”

Schmidt is right, O’Driscoll only produced three or four magical touches while his breakdown work was only that of a half-decent international openside and he even made an error in defence.

Granted, he also made a try-saving tackle.

But vintage? Not yet but it’s coming.

“I spoke to Brian after the game and he felt he could have gone the whole 80, but the tank was starting to run dry after 55,” said his Kiwi coach. “He was relatively happy to see Ian Madigan heading his way, but he really enjoyed himself.”

After lauding the great one, McFadden doffed his cap to Dave Kearney. Of course, this pair have soldiered together since their Clongowes days.

“I played in school with David on the senior cup team in Clongowes and Leinster obviously as well. Getting tries for Ireland is amazing but two on your debut is unbelievable so fair play to him, yeah. Delighted for him.”

Still, Schmidt, while relieved not to be embarrassed by inferior opposition, was far from happy. “That performance wouldn’t be good enough to beat Australia,” said McFadden. ,“We are under no illusions there.

“The great thing about Joe is he is not negative but he does focus on things you can do better. I think it is a really good mentality to have . . we’ll look to try and improve next week.”

Not vintage but a step towards it.