Monday 19 February 2018

Skipper O'Mahony pays tribute to new faces

Ireland captain Peter O'Mahony paid tribute to five new faces after the boot of Ian Madigan saw them seal a 15-12 win over the US Eagles in Houston.

Mike Tolkin's team just ran out of steam against a callow Irish side who were left hanging on to their three-point lead in an edgy second half.

Fly-half Madigan kicked all of the visitors' points in front of 20,181 at the BBVA Compass Stadium, a record for a United States home game, while Saracens' Chris Wyles scored all of his side's 12 points.

Five Irish players, Robbie Henshaw, Stuart Olding, Jamie Hagan, Mike Sherry and Tommy O'Donnell made their debut in the win and Munster man O'Mahony, skippering his country for the first time, was pleased for them in particular.

"It is an away from home Test win and I am thrilled to bits for the boys who won their first caps that the rest of the boys got the win on such a special day," he said.

"I'm thrilled to bit for them, but the overall thing is we got a win away from home, it was a tough game and we expected nothing less.

"They have really improved over the last 12 to 18 months, they have been really pushing on. It was tough out there, the conditions were tough and the ball was really slippy."

Ireland back Simon Zebo said he had been called up to the British and Irish Lions squad as a possible replacement for the injured Tommy Bowe.

The Cork wing had spoken of his disappointment of missing out on the initial selection, but he could capitalise on the misfortune of Bowe after the Ulster wing broke a bone in his hand against the Queensland Reds yesterday.

Zebo played for 75 minutes against the States before being replaced by Felix Jones. It was his sixth cap for his country and his first since a Six Nations defeat to England.

He will depart Texas for Australia tonight after receiving a phone call from tour manager Guy Richardson when he arrived back to Ireland's team base after the game.

"I heard this morning that Tommy had an injury on one of the social media sites so I just had to stay focused and keep myself away from it, just try and go out and play well tonight. We got the win which was very important to us," he said last night.

"I'm absolutely over the moon. It is the best news I could ever have dreamed of.

"As a professional (Irish) rugby player the ultimate goal is to be a British and Irish Lion. Hopefully I'll get the chance to do that if I get my cap. That is something I have to work towards now."

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