Ireland’s wait for a goal continues in Finland defeat; Ultan Dillane joins Six Nations squad

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Around 8,000 fans watched Ireland and Finland at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki last night. Photograph: Inpho

Around 8,000 fans watched Ireland and Finland at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki last night. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland’s wait for a goal extended to 390 minutes of football after last night’s disappointing 1-0 defeat to Finland in front of a crowd of around 8,000 at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki. Still to get their first win under Stephen Kenny - after five attempts - Ireland maintained their recent improvement in terms of possession and passes but an error by goalkeeper Darren Randolph in taking a short kick-out led to Fredrik Jensen’s 66th minute goal. Despite the slow start to the new manager’s term, Ken Early believes new faces give grounds for optimism: “If anyone in Ireland remembers Wednesday night’s game, it will be because it was the first time we saw Dara O’Shea and Jason Knight playing for Ireland, and not because it was the second time we saw Pukki and Jensen score that goal against us.”

Leinster’s 21-year-old lock Ryan Baird has been ruled out of Ireland’s rearranged Six Nations games at home to Italy next Saturday week and France in Paris seven days later. Connacht’s Ultan Dillane has been added to the squad in his place. In his column this morning, John O’Sullivan explains why head coach Andy Farrell will have to broaden his selection base after using just 26 players in three Six Nations matches since succeeding Joe Schmidt. Fullback and the backrow appear to be the main positions up for grabs, and “it will be interesting to see if Farrell elects to stick, where possible, or twist when the team is announced next week.”

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