looking within for inspiration
Kidney won't be depending on lucky charms as Ireland seek consistency
WHENEVER Ireland teams win in international sport, it tends to be reported in the foreign media with use of stereotypical phrases such as 'luck of the Irish' and 'Irish eyes are smiling.'
Two days after the celebration of all things Hibernian, it is fair to say that Ireland have not experienced much luck or done much smiling in this Six Nations championship and ahead of this evening's showdown with Grand Slam-chasing England at Lansdowne Road they are looking within for inspiration as they seek to end their campaign on a positive note.
"I think we are a good side, we are just working on bringing that consistent 80-minute performance and I have seen improvements again this week," said Ireland coach Declan Kidney yesterday.
"How close is it? It can be a bounce of a ball, we have learned that over the past couple of years, but you don't want to be depending on luck. Luck will only factor into it if you get yourself into contention. We have been in contention in a few matches and we just need to learn how to finish it off without depending on luck.
"I see these matches as one-offs," he added. "They are cup finals and we just want to go out and play the best match we can. England want to play the best game they can and that is what it really comes down to. Let's go at it."
After a difficult adjustment period, Martin Johnson has established a level consistency that has brought England to the brink of a Grand Slam, as well as a couple of significant victories over Australia, and Kidney paid tribute to the contribution of his counterpart.
"Great credit to him. There has been a lot of changes in the set-up, obviously they have a vast array of players, and he hasn't been slow to make the changes over his two- or three-year reign and there's a lot of players in now that weren't in before," said Kidney.
"They got a lot of impetus from their win in Australia last June and they carried that in with them in the win over Australia in November, that momentum, they got a win against Wales and three games at home so they are in a good place. A coach has a bit to do with that, the players have the main say, but he's got a good team together on and off the pitch, so a lot of credit is due to him."
Eoin Reddan was cleared by a specialist to start at scrum-half following the heavy knock he took to his head in the defeat to Wales last weekend and his captain Brian O'Driscoll says a major motivation for the team is not to lose both home games in the competition, something that has not happened since 1999.
"We have a big motivation in that we lost the only other game we've had at home in this championship to France. We don't want to lose two from two," stressed O'Driscoll. "If anyone needs any added impetus to be given to their performance, that will rank up there. It certainly will for me."
Kidney struck a positive note when he said he is convinced Ireland can come good today.
"We just have to knuckle down and play the best game we can, try to get that consistent 80-minute performance. I believe once we do that, the belief within the players, there will be a lot of pennies dropping saying: 'Jeez, we can do that'. They know they can do it, it's just a case of doing it now."