Sunday 18 August 2019

'It's all b******t' - Alan Quinlan hits back at Irish critics who 'just want to feel important'

Ireland players during a huddle against Wales
Ireland players during a huddle against Wales

Alan Quinlan has called for perspective when criticising Joe Schmidt and Ireland following Saturday's dismal defeat in Cardiff against Wales.

Schmidt's men signed off on a forgettable Six Nations campaign with a 25-7 defeat - the only Irish score resulting from the last play of the game.

Going into the England Aviva opener in February, Ireland were ranked number two in the world with expectations high that Schmidt and his men could retain the title and go into the World Cup later this year full of confidence.

But Ireland failed to reach their lofty expectations, leading to criticism in the media and from pundits.

"Did Joe Schmidt say at any stage that we were going to win a World Cup? Did the players say at any stage that they were going to win a World Cup? They are getting criticism from people who just want to criticise. They feel they are making themselves important," said Quinlan on Off The Ball AM.

"At the end of the day we have had a bad tournament, we've won three games. I just think the reaction is absolutely crazy and some people are enjoying that.

"The players have never said they are going to win a World Cup, they have never said that we are the best team in the world. It's people outside.

"I have mates myself, big GAA heads, rugby this and rugby that. That's not the players' fault. That's just the culture."

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One criticism aimed at the Ireland camp is their style of play not being expansive enough but Quinlan has a different take.

"I think this Irish team does try to play an expansive game, they try to move the ball a lot. I think we over play and I think then attritionally that has an affect on us. And it has affected us in these matches where we have hit a brick wall and we kept trying to do the same things over.

"Someone said to me 'we are not expansive, we are not ambitious'. Well what the hell did Johnny Sexton do with a cross field kick to Jacob Stockdale (Against Scotland)? If they are afraid of the coach of doing that kind of stuff, why does he do that?"

Quinlan does think that some senior players need to reflect ahead of the World Cup but refutes talk that the players did not turn up against Wales.

"I think there is a massive overreaction. I just wonder how many people watched the game back, paused it, stopped it, watched it, rewound, watched it again. There was very small margins in that game the other day," added Quinlan.

"People are saying the players didn't turn up, the roof was the big issue and this was wrong and that was wrong and the team were finished. There are definitely three or four players in the team who are very very vulnerable to being finished.

"Sean O'Brien didn't deliver when there was pressure on him. Rory Best didn't play well on Saturday. You will automatically jump on that because of the age factor which..Rory is big enough to take that himself and understand that.

"Peter O'Mahony didn't play well. Peter O'Mahony had two tackles, two carries. Sexton/Murray didn't play well. So if Joey Carbery is fit, healthy and well would he start next week? He probably could and maybe some of them do need something to happen or some dynamic to change. They are not coping well with pressue. Rob Kearney didn't play great at the weekend, Jacob Stockdale didn't play well.

"Then people are saying Joe should have closed the roof. It's all bullshit. The players wanted the roof open, they wanted to have a bit of an edge. Did they go out and not try, did they not have desire, did they not work hard? No, that's not true. They worked their socks off. They lost individual battles early on and a few things went against them.

"Should they be criticised? Absolutely. Are the team done, are they finished? Maybe some players are but not this team as a whole and not this group or Joe Schmidt because I think he is too good a coach. He delivered three championships in five seasons for us and suddenly he is the worst coach in the world."

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