Serious Reddan injury latest setback for depleted Ireland
IRELAND'S substitute scrum-half Eoin Reddan has been ruled out for three months after suffering a broken leg in today's 13-13 RBS 6 Nations draw with France.
Reddan fell awkwardly beneath a tackle in the final minute of a compelling match at the Aviva Stadium and was administered oxygen before being carried off.
Ireland's injury-depleted ranks were swelled even further by a number of other casualties with lock Donnacha Ryan damaging his shoulder and centre Luke Marshall sustaining concussion.
Both are doubts to face Italy next Saturday, while flanker Peter O'Mahony, scrum-half Conor Murray, centre Brian O'Driscoll and wing Fergus McFadden also picked up a variety of knocks.
Already missing were lock Paul O'Connell, wings Tommy Bowe and Craig Gilroy, centre Gordon D'Arcy, flanker Stephen Ferris and fly-half Jonathan Sexton.
Head coach Declan Kidney, however, refused to complain about Ireland's misfortune.
"We took a conscious decision that we wouldn't complain about things. Other people are worse off than we are, plus it's such an insult to the lads coming on and having a huge go," Kidney said.
"We're frustrated, but there are lads coming in who have no experience at this level under their belts and are doing such a good job for us.
"On any given day Paul O'Connell, Tommy Bowe, Stephen Ferris and Jonathan Sexton would be in the running for a Lions spot.
"I've never experienced an injury run like this, but you work your way through and I spoke to (captain) Jamie Heaslip about it and we agreed not complain." For the third successive match of the championship Ireland let victory slip from their grasp, this time having led France 13-3 at the interval.
They had delivered a tactical masterclass amid dismal conditions for the opening 50 minutes with the impressive Paddy Jackson kicking eight points and Jamie Heaslip crossing for a pushover try.
But France struck back in the final 15 minutes through a Louis Picamoles try, converted by Frederic Michalak, to set up a nerve-shredding finish notable for Vincent Debarty's controversial nudge on Keith Earls.
Debarty connected with Earls as the Munster wing chased a kick over the line, giving Picamoles the chance to touch down.
"The players have taken everything that's been thrown at them and just got on with it," Kidney said.
"So to put our foot forward like that and be creating in the way we are doing actually adds to the frustration.
"The players are down, but that's the measure of how much they push themselves and why I stand by them so much.
"In another time the team would be so much stronger for what's happening at the moment." Since beating Wales on the opening day, Ireland have lost to England and Scotland and drawn with Italy, prompting captain Heaslip to voice his frustration.
"The feeling is that was a match we could have won has been there for the last three games," Heaslip said.
"A draw is always a strange one. That game in particular we could have won. It's a bit weird and the changing room is flat.
"There were a lot of positives in the game, but we gave them easy outs at important moments and you shouldn't give France that opportunity. It's a hard one to take." France boss Philippe Saint-Andre praised the character shown by his winless side in securing a draw after trailing at half-time, although he lamented their overall performance in the Six Nations.
"This was a real game. We performed badly in the first half. We didn't play very well and Ireland played very well," he said.
"We showed a lot of character to come back. I talked to the players at half-time and after that we showed something.
"We're very disappointed with our Six Nations, but we've changed nearly 70 per cent of the team since the World Cup.
"We're still learning and the Six Nations is hard, it's tough. We just need to be much more precise because we had the opportunity to win this game but didn't do it."