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Ireland Hammered - Three Reasons Not To Despair

The hangover was kicking in after just 90 seconds of yesterday’s match. The Irish had been drinking in celebration for the last 70 days since Jacob Stockdale’s legendary try and Johnny Sexton’s level-head sunk the All Blacks in Dublin. Now the Aviva Stadium looked on with Chariots swinging all around them as Johnny May began the demolition of Irish rugby.

But despite the hammering, this is not a time to mourn. In fact, here are thee solid reasons why Ireland can still put a positive twist on a match, despite being second-best throughout. It’s a spin campaign Brexit campaigners would be proud of.

1. This Was Exactly What We Needed

The boom is back, the Celtic Tiger is roaring again, and nobody has learnt their lessons from 2007. The Irish are buying houses that aren’t built, in towns that don’t exist, with money they don’t have. The pubs are never empty, cocaine is cheaper than petrol, and they owned the sport of rugby.

Maybe England have gone some way to reminding them that not everything is as glorious as it looks.

It was a comprehensive battering and put the fans, media and players back in their box. Pre-match, all TV pundits including Matt Williams, Ronan O’Gara, Shane Horgan, Shane Jennings and David Wallace decisively opted for an Irish victory without a glint of doubt in their eyes. Fans in pubs across the country unanimously agreed and toasted another expected Irish victory with more pints. Once the match started, they were drowning their sorrows as Brian O’Driscoll said Ireland were ‘flattered’ to only lose by 12. It was a sobering day in Dublin.

But that reality check is good right? Yes, it hurts, but having their trousers pulled down by England might just be what Joe Schmidt’s charges and the army of fans needed. This might be useful going forward. The Irish might learn something here – at least on the rugby field, if not on the unstable economics behind borrowing money you can’t payback.

2. You Couldn’t Ask For Better Motivation In Japan

The last time England sauntered into Dublin and put down that big of a win was in 2003 when they dished out a 6-42 battering. Ireland would go on to win the next four matches head-to-head against their rivals from across the pond.

It’s a massive ‘if’ the way the draw has worked out, but if England and Ireland were to meet in the World Cup in Japan what better motivation would the Irish need after being drop-kicked off their high horse?

After yesterday’s match there were the usual calls for calm, and reassurances that lessons would be learnt. The infamous line of ‘back to the drawing board’ was muttered by one of the pundits during a funeral-like synopses of what has just occurred. Usually these clichés carry as much weight as a Teresa May promise, yet maybe there was a little truth this time around.

The results of the Robbie Henshaw experiment were as worrying as learning James Blunt is preparing new material. The revamped back three looked completely out-of-sorts from the get-go. England’s defensive line held every answer in the book as Ireland’s primary ball-carriers failed to get any momentum in a performance that inspired worrying grunts and murmurs across the country’s boozers.

If both teams as expected top their World Cup groups, England would likely need to beat New Zealand, while Ireland would need to beat the Aussies if the two countries were to face each other in November’s final. And what better motivation than that thumping on home soil. Stranger things have happened – James Blunt has two UK Number One albums for f*cks sake.

3. Scotland And Italy Are Up Next

Hopes of a Grand Slam have been dashed and the opportunity to retain their Six Nations crown look incredibly unlikely – but away trips to Scotland and Italy can put the record straight.

The Scots decided instead of taking their foot off the gas, they’d slam on the brakes and violently spin out of control during the last 10 minutes of Friday’s game as Italy ran in three late tries – and any similar lapses in concentration is good for the Irish. Ireland have won 16 of their last 21 against their kilted friends.

Then off to Six Nations whipping boys Italy who have now suffered 18 straight losses in this competition. A resounding result there and the Irish may have a spring back in their step.

Within those two gameweeks England have to host France and then travel to Wales in Cardiff – so the table might not look so unkind come February 24th.

This wasn’t a pretty performance, nor is it one that Ireland will want to dwell on. But in two months’ time Dublin will be the largest English-speaking city in Europe and Ireland beat the All Blacks in November, so f*ck it, it could be worse.

Josh Powell
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All images - PA.

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