Friday 23 February 2018

Kidney hopes to bring Croker curtain down with rip-roaring performances

Hugh Farrelly

IRELAND coach Declan Kidney wants to give supporters a fitting Croke Park send-off ahead by winning their final two matches at GAA headquarters.

The Grand Slam champions take on Wales today (2.30) and face Scotland at the same venue next weekend in their last Croke Park match before internationals are switched to the redeveloped Lansdowne Road. And Kidney wants to mark the end of rugby's three-year relationship with Croke Park in suitable fashion.

"The GAA have been extraordinarily generous to us and it would be nice to finish on a high," said Kidney yesterday.

"It's up to us to give the supporters something to come behind. The 5.0 kick-offs always seem to suit us that little bit better as everyone seems to be warmed up that little bit better. Hopefully, people will have an early start tomorrow morning," he joked.

"Please God, they'll row in behind us because I think we are going to need that '16th person'."


And, on the day captain Brian O'Driscoll wins his 100th cap for his country, Kidney paid glowing tribute to his star centre.

"I'd probably do it a disservice," Kidney said. "He's imparted his own knowledge as he's getting older to some of the younger fellahs and that's a generosity that isn't always seen on top of his performances."

Wales lost to England and France and scraped to a nerve-jangling win over Scotland with the last play of the game but Kidney views Warren Gatland's side as extremely dangerous.

"The first ball they get, if it's a good ball, they will come at us like they always do," he said. "In golfing parlance, there's a few balls that have rimmed out of the hole in the last match or two. But some days they could all go down and have a very tidy round. We are just hoping that's not against us."

O'Driscoll echoed the views of his coach: "There's still a hell of a lot of work to do. They've produced some scintillating parts to their game and they'll feel they will have a big performance left in them. Even a 'weak' Welsh side in my eyes is never really weak."

Irish Independent

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