vs France 11.30am Drew 8-8
I’m writing this straight after the game still in sweaty shorts and jersey. It’s weird. We threw this game away. We basically let in 8 versions of the same try… how poor is that. There were other flaws in our game too obviously, our coach talked afterwards about our lack of drive and conviction, we were labouring up the pitch. But it’s weird. A draw really doesn’t change anything. If we still beat Scotland and England we will make the final although now points difference would come into it and that can get tricky. This was a huge blow to our confidence and morale. It felt like a loss. The worst kind of loss, a stupid loss. And it was weird again for me because on Day 3 when peoples bodies are starting to fray at the seams, this is the best I’ve felt in weeks. And after the pressure I put on myself yesterday about how I was playing, I was as nervous as I’ve ever been going out onto that pitch. But I felt I played well. I was full of energy and drive for the team. So, what should I feel after that game? Ahh… I don’t know anymore. These competitions suck you in.
What would Paul O’Connell say after a heart-sickening draw like that with France?
He’d say ‘disappointing’ and ‘frustrating’ about 4 times each… and ‘we’re good enough, we should be winning these games.’ And he’d be spot on…that’s exactly how I feel. It still doesn’t make me feel any better though.
Here’s some footage of the French game including a couple of pretty good tries.
5.50pm vs Scotland.
This was on the number one pitch inside the athletics track with lots of the other Irish players, friends and family shouting us on from the stands. I was so up for this game. As Jim, our captain, said to me, I’ll be so sore if we go home without getting a result against Scotland or England. We flew at them.
Even though we did really well against them in the first game, I felt they were probably just in control of the game. In this game, they weren’t in control. They were rattled and tired and they didn’t want a game as hard as this. I wanted it as hard as this all day. What do you think you’re going to get a victory against us without earning every last inch?
They’re a good team, the defending European champions. There are little elements where you can see their coaching and game sense is ahead of us. A very simple thing like the player with the ball sweeping away your hand every time as he drives in and you go to make the touch. It mightn’t seem like much but it all makes a difference, buys you a yard, a second.
We went up, we scored good tries. We defended really well at times on our line. I stopped one try by putting my foot in front of the ball as the player dived in… never done that before. There was another one where I was 100% sure I’d made the touch but the score was given. It was that close right through the game.
Our supporters started singing ‘The Fields of Athenry’ from the stand. I could hear it from the pitch, what a feeling.
Scotland had their own supporters and they showed good composure. We were hanging in a the end. They got some good tries including one right at the very end. The hooter went. I sunk to my knees. I couldn’t believe we’d lost it at the very end. I looked up into the stands and they were all cheering us. I never in my life thought I’d be experiencing something like this, after playing sport all my life, at this age. And we’d lost it. I put my shirt over my face. For a moment the emotion was too much. We got in our circle and cheered Scotland. They were very gracious. The referees commended us on a great match.
We came back to our sideline for a team huddle and then it wasn’t then I realised we’d actually drawn the game. 7-7. ‘Really?’
Once again, I didn’t know what to feel. I scored two tries. I felt like I played by far my best game of the tournament. A game that within the space of a couple of minutes, we were winning, lost then drew. The only thing I know to feel is that this is our standard now and I want to play as well against England in the morning early tomorrow and after in the play-off for the bronze medal against either Wales or France.
My little sister Emer also scored a try in the game but felt completely different than me. A lot of the tries went in her wing but even though there was nothing she could do, she felt as low today as I was yesterday. She’s been having an amazing tournament. You might say I would say that as her brother but no I wouldn’t. I’d be harder on her than anyone else. She’s been brilliant. So if you any of you see her tomorrow at the playing fields, give her a hug! It’ll drive her mad. 😉
Here is some unedited footage of the Scotland game. No time to edit it. We’re up at 7 for our first match at 8.30am vs England.