Carolan hails his troops after first New Zealand scalp
Ireland 33 - New Zealand 24
Published 13/06/2016 | 02:30
By the time Nigel Carolan walked across the pitch to the media centre, the one used for his training-ground briefings for the past few years by Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, and will be Pep Guardiola's platform next season, his phone took in 74 messages of congratulations.
If the penny hadn't dropped about the significance of the win at a sodden Manchester City Academy Stadium, it was starting to slowly sink in.
"It's madness, really, isn't it? What a win," said Carolan after inspiring his side to become the first Irish national men's side to defeat New Zealand, tipping the hat to Munster in '78 and the Irish women's side at the World Cup two years ago.
Ireland now need a win over newcomers Georgia on Wednesday to guarantee a semi-final spot at the World Rugby U-20 Championship for only the second time.
They have come a long way in a few days from a side which was 17-0 down after just 20 minutes against Six Nations Grand Slam winners Wales before coming back to win 26-25.
"This group of players, they are a funny bunch," added Carolan.
"They are a super group to work with. Their work-rate is phenomenal, both on and off the field.
"The character that they showed against England in the Six Nations, to come back.
"And then 17 points down against Wales, it gives you unbelievable belief that if they can perform from the first minute like they do when their back is against the wall, they can achieve anything and that is what we witnessed here.
"They came out of the blocks early and scored first and that is what we were looking to do."
He will shuffle the side for Wednesday's clash and try meet the demands of playing five games in 20 days.
Ireland lost hooker Adam McBurney to the sin-bin after 18 minutes after he was adjudged to have knocked-on deliberately - New Zealand's double try scorer Malo Tuitama escaped sanction for a similar offence when the game was in the melting pot in the second half.
But this Irish team weren't looking for excuses, they were looking for a result.
They lost superb out-half Bill Johnston to injury just after half-time, but his replacement, former Newcastle United FC academy player Johnny McPhillips, was just as effective.
Johnston, who missed the Six Nations with a shoulder injury, dislocated his shoulder and his tournament is over. He will return home and be replaced by Brett Connon of Newcastle Falcons.
Throughout the field, Ireland had heroes, but none more so than up front, where skipper James Ryan led a pack that pulverised New Zealand throughout and provided the platform for the historic success.
"We knew our game wasn't going to be very expansive and to contradict what theirs was," added Carolan.
"We knew that they were trying to go wide and we closed off most of those opportunities, we just denied them the space that they were looking for.
"I don't think they adapted, their plan B didn't really work for them. We just dealt with the conditions much better."
Ireland led 20-14 at the break, thanks to a brace of tries off lineout moves, with flanker Greg Jones getting over for the first of them after 28 minutes.
McBurney announced his return to the fray by peeling away from another driving maul and getting over in the left corner. Johnston landed the conversions from opposite wings in addition to a couple of early penalties.
Jordie Barrett and Shaun Stevenson supplied the early tries for the reigning world champions, but they struggled throughout with Ireland's line-speed in a clash which was played in a constant downpour.
McPhillips extended Ireland's lead with a penalty from 40 metres and while Tuitama hit back with a try for New Zealand, Ireland continued to boss affairs.
Number eight Max Deegan got the clinching try nine minutes from time, again off a dominant scrum, and while Tuitama's second try ensured a nervous finish, Ireland ended the game on the front foot and another scrum penalty saw McPhillips wrap up a famous win.
Ireland - J Stockdale (Belfast Harlequins); M Byrne (Terenure), S Daly (Cork Con), C O'Brien (Clontarf) (J O'Brien (UCD) 27-34), H Keenan (UCD); B Johnston (Garryowen) (J McPhillips (Queen's University) 37), S Kerins (Sligo); A Porter (UCD), A McBurney (Ballymena) (V O'Brien (Cork Con) 63), B Betts (Young Munster) (V Abdaladze (Clontarf) 63); C Gallagher (Sligo) (S O'Connor (Cashel) 77), J Ryan (Lansdowne); G Jones (UCD), D Aspil (St Mary's RFC) (V O'Brien (Cork Con) 20-30) (K Brown (Shannon) 64), M Deegan (Lansdowne).
New Zealand - J Trainor; S Stevenson, P Tomkinson (J Lowe 51), J Barrett, M Tuitama; S Perofeta (TJ Va'a 43), S Nock (J Taumateine 72); A Johnstone (S Paranihi 67), L Apisai (A Aumua 59), S Kautai (A Fidow 59); Q Strange, I Walker-Leawere (H Dalzell 70); L Jacobson, M Jacobson, M Mikaele-Tu'u.
Ref - Craig Maxwell-Keys (England).