Monday 25 September 2017

Romance on ice as Les Bleus roll over nicely

Sinead Corcoran (girlfriend of Jack McGrath) and Mary Scott (fiancee of Devin Toner) pictured before the Ireland France game in the Aviva Stadium. Picture: GERRY MOONEY
Sinead Corcoran (girlfriend of Jack McGrath) and Mary Scott (fiancee of Devin Toner) pictured before the Ireland France game in the Aviva Stadium. Picture: GERRY MOONEY
Gerald Kean and Ann Marie Krohl heading to the Ireland v France game. Picture; GERRY MOONEY.
French fans sing before kick off of the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and France at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on February 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Raw emotion, passion and intensity at the Aviva. In fact all you want for a Valentine's weekend.

But for the rugby Wags, romance was put on ice as their men took on the French in a tempestuous match.

But it was all worthwhile after Johnny Sexton, despite a frightening injury which meant he had to leave the pitch halfway through the second half, put in a brave performance.

Sexton pulled the strings as Ireland beat France 18-11.

Two women who were happy to put their romance on ice for the pride of their country were Sinead Corcoran and Mary Scott.

Sinead's boyfriend, rugby star Jack McGrath, has already clocked up 12 caps aged 25, taking over Cian Healy's slot on the team. And the qualified radiographer is keeping her priorities straight during Ireland's Six Nations campaign.

"Valentine's Day? What Valentine's Day? Oh, they're on the back foot now," she joked.

"Ah no, they are 100pc focused on rugby, that's all that matters. That they stay on top of it for the rest of the competition. There's no Valentine's Day this year.

"Even with a win there will be no big celebrations this weekend either. They are taking it one day at a time. I really think they can go all the way. There will be plenty of time for romance and all that when it's all over," said the University of London graduate.

Fellow rugby fan and fiancée of Devin Toner, Mary Scott, was keeping Sinead company in the stands.

"It's all about the Six Nations now, romance is taking a back seat," she said.

But with a big wedding to plan, the 26-year-old has plenty to look forward to in 2015. Toner went down on bended knee whilst on a lavish trip to Dubai at the beginning of the year.

The proposal comes after seven years of dating for the pair who recently bought a house together in Dublin's trendy Portobello area.

With one Irish player alone sustaining four concussions since March - and a further bang last night - Mary says it's never easy to watch the one you love in the cut and thrust of the game.

"It's always nerve-wracking to watch them on the pitch. You are always on the edge of your seat. You pray to God they come off in one piece.

"I had been feeling sick all day before the match," she added.

By 5pm the stadium was alive with chants as 50,000 fans filled the night sky with a joie de vivre.

Before the match France attempted to intimidate Johnny Sexton. French coach Philippe Saint-Andre threatened "we should really test him early on."

Flanker Bernard Le Roux made the provocative suggestion that Sexton should wear a helmet.

They needn't have bothered. After a 12-week lay-off because of concussion issues Sexton was as sharp as a razor and early attempts by the French to get "in his face" were repelled with some force by Sexton's Irish team mates.

Sexton kicked three out of three penalties in the first half as Ireland led.

But in the second half the out-half had to leave the pitch with a blood injury after a worrying clash of heads with Remi Tales. It looked accidental but the result was a gaping wound that would have stopped most boxing fights.

But in a fractious encounter and before Sexton came back to wild applause, France had Pascal Pape sent off for a deliberate knee in the kidneys of Jamie Heaslip.

A French try 10 minutes from the end set up a nail- biting finish. Sexton received at least two more blows to the head as he led a desperate rear guard action while the French laid siege to the Irish line.

Man of the match? There was only one man: our Johnny.

Sunday Independent

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