Deegan eyes historic Baby Blacks upset
The cruelty and fine margins in sport were all too apparent at the Park Inn Radisson in Manchester city centre yesterday as Ireland and Wales came to terms with the 26-25 win achieved in such dramatic fashion by Nigel Carolan's men.
The Irish players, having finished analysing the win, took to the streets to stretch their legs and enjoy some down time, while in another corner of the hotel Wales trooped off to get their own show back on track.
Irish No 8 Max Deegan produced a man of the match display on Tuesday evening, but while he and his colleagues are preparing for history and a first-ever win over New Zealand by an Irish men's side, tighthead prop Conor Kenny was packing his bags and preparing to return home today.
The Connacht Academy prospect's tournament ended after just three minutes when he suffered a shoulder injury which could require surgery.
It's a cruel blow to the Ferbane man as he had battled to recover from another shoulder injury to claim his place in the squad.
He will be replaced by Adam Coyle from Naas, who made his debut in the Six Nations off the bench in the win over Scotland.
"I've had a lot of problems with injuries this year and did a lot of work to get myself in here to start in that team. I've done so much work to get back in and then to get just three minutes is not the best," said former Garbally College student Kenny.
Deegan was thrilled to make a winning start and he is now really looking forward to having a go at the Baby Blacks.
And the Lansdowne clubman believes the manner in which they came from 17-0 down to win will fill them with confidence when they take on the champions.
"It was unbelievable, it was a match that I will never forget. We were so under the pump in the first half, try after try they were putting in," he said.
"But we said that some of the tries that they were getting. . . was just good play from them. We knew that if we stuck in and we kept our heads right, we would prevail and we knew that going into the second half."
The focus has already switched to reigning champions New Zealand and the opportunity to become the first Irish men's side to defeat the Kiwis at any level.
"I have never played New Zealand but I can't wait to stand up against the haka," said former St Michael's College pupil Deegan.
"The camp is buzzing so that should really just drive us forward even into a bigger match into a performance.
Meanwhile, Welsh lock Adam Beard will appear before a disciplinary hearing today after being cited for an alleged gouging incident involving Irish replacement Kelvin Browne in the closing stages of Tuesday's encounter.
Who is your sportstar of the year?
Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.
Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.