Tuesday 28 February 2017

Kidney takes heart from Paris lesson with attacking verve praised

Hugh Farrelly

HAVING to analyse a heavy defeat is not familiar territory for Declan Kidney whose Ireland side had been chasing a 13-match unbeaten run until France blew those aspirations to smithereens with Saturday's 23-point hammering at the Stade de France.

However, just as the Ireland coach is phlegmatic in victory so too with a loss that represents a serious pot-hole on the road to World Cup 2011. While ruefully reflecting on missed chances in the first half, there was ready acknowledgment that France were the superior team plus a determination to get back on track for the trip to Twickenham in two weeks' time.

"Today is one of the tougher days," said Kidney. "But that goes with it, the highs and the lows, they deserved their win and you're not going to win every day. You have to learn from it and move on.

"They probably could have scored another try or two; the drop-goals they got, they were just very efficient in keeping the scoreboard ticking over and that's the sign of a good side but if I was to think we could never get the better of them, then I wouldn't stay.

"I thought we started okay, for 15 to 20 minutes. What pleased me most is that we said we'd attack for 80 and we tried to do that, even though some of it was from deep and you could say it was inadvisable. But if we're to move forward as a side that's what we have to do," he added.

Benefit

"We had a number of guys playing their first game here. They'll benefit from having had the experience."

Kidney accepted that the defeat, and nature of it, was a huge psychological blow but believes the squad has the capacity to bounce back and says that is the priority.

"It hits everybody. You see the tennis players, the golfers, they go on a winning run and if they lose one ... but you don't fail if you fall down, it's only if we don't pick ourselves up.

"That's what we have to do. We have to pick ourselves up."

Injury-wise, of greatest concern is full-back Rob Kearney, who twisted a knee. Captain Brian O'Driscoll also suffered a knee-twist, second-row Leo Cullen has a sore ankle and John Hayes took a heavy blow to the head.

The injuries will be assessed again when the squad convenes for training in Cork on Wednesday with Kidney hopeful the two-week break will allow everyone to be fit for Twickenham.

Those who did not start on Saturday will train with their provinces with a view to getting game time in the Magners League although second-row Donncha O'Callaghan was deemed "less likely rather than more likely" to turn out for Munster.

Irish Independent

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