Gordon D’Arcy now believes, Martin O’Neill remains bullish
Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
Gordon D’Arcy says James Ryan played more like an All Blacks lock than Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock did. Photograph: Garry Carr/Inpho
In his column this morning Gordon D’Arcy has - unsurprisingly - reflected on Ireland’s victory over the All Blacks, and believes the 16-9 win at the Aviva Stadium has solidified their Rugby World Cup credentials. He writes: “What comes next will take care of itself. Ireland are serious contenders for the big tournament in Japan; this we all know, and so do New Zealand.” D’Arcy was cautious of Ireland’s chances heading into last Saturday’s Test, especially in the absence of Conor Murray, Seán O’Brien, Dan Leavy and Robbie Henshaw. Any doubts, however, proved unfounded: “We see now. We believe now. The public’s perspective changed, perhaps forever more when it comes to the Ireland rugby team, around the moment when Pete O’Mahony grabbed hold of the Beauden Barrett grubber intended for Ben Smith to score. . . They [the players] expected this performance. As should we. It’s the rest of us who need to get on board. No need for arrogance on the level we’ve seen from other successful sporting nations but let’s get comfortable expecting the highest standards, because I can’t see this Ireland team dipping.”
Elsewhere Martin O’Neill remains confident he can turn Ireland’s fortunes around, after a run which has seen his side win just one of the last 11 games, writes Emmet Malone. 2018 has proved particularly miserable for Ireland - who have failed to score in their last four fixtures - and O’Neill will be under pressure to launch a serious challenge for a place at Euro 2020 when qualification begins next Mach. “The wins over Germany, Italy and Austria constituted some pretty good times and he appears to have leveraged them well to more or less double his salary,” he writes. “It is all academic though; he is the first to admit that it is a results business and the last of his good ones was quite some time ago.” While Ireland have sunk to Uefa Nations League C, Scotland are heading in the other direction, after a 3-1 win over Isreal last night earned them promotion into League B - James Forrest scoring a hat-trick at Hampden Park.