Kidney’s highs and lows
Millennium mania to hapless in Hamilton
Declan Kidney after the defeat to Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on March 16th. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
March 21st, 2009 – Ireland 17 Wales 15, Millennium Stadium
The culmination of Ireland’s annus mirabilis, when Brian O'Driscoll’s magnificence, and grit against England in particular, was complemented by a new generation of players – Heaslip, Ferris, Kearney, Fitzgerald and Bowe – combined with the unrelenting Munster old guard led by O’Connell, O'Gara, Wallace, Hayes, Flannery, Wallace and Leinster’s Gordon D’Arcy scaled the highest peak ever reached by any Irish sports team. All with a little help from Stephen Jones.
September 17th, 2011 – Ireland 15 Australia 6, Eden Park
The imagery of Ferris, O’Connell and O’Brien queueing up to land on Wallaby scrumhalf Will Genia would have a permanent place in the Irish sporting psyche if not for what followed in the quarter-final. Still, the immensity of Ireland’s forwards convinced the whole country that something special was about to happen.
November 24th 2012 – Ireland 46 Argentina 24, Aviva Stadium
With O’Driscoll, O’Connell, O’Brien and Ferris all injured and just three Grand Slammers – Heaslip, D’Arcy and Bowe - making the starting XV, this provided a glimpse into a potentially bright future. Young Gilroy and Zebo sparkled on the wings, while Jonathan Sexton looked comfortable as the unquestioned dictator.
October 8th, 2011 - Ireland 10 Wales 22, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
When the numbness of this comprehensive defeat subsided, it became abundantly clear that Ireland had stagnated on Kidney’s watch. The predictability of torpedoing O’Brien and Ferris over the gainline was identified and halted by Welsh lumberjacks Sam Warbuton and Dan Lydiate. Out-foxed and out-coached.
June 23rd, 2012 - Ireland 0 New Zealand 60 , Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
No Dan Carter, Richie McCaw at number eight and just seven days after the former’s drop goal denied Ireland a famous draw, this happened.
February 23rd, 2013 - Ireland 8 Scotland 12, Murrayfield
Afterwards Scotsmen were unable to explain how they won a game Ireland utterly dominated. Paddy Jackson's missed kicks proved he wasn't ready but Kidney persevered with the 21-year-old, seemingly questioning his own belief system when removing the older guard – O'Gara then Donncha O'Callaghan - yet refusing to promote Ian Madigan, a decision that looks increasingly ridiculous and damning as weeks have passed.