How Ireland secured a historic series win over the All Blacks in New Zealand – The Irish Times


As the clock ticked down on Ireland’s series-deciding win in Sky Stadium, the celebrations were kicking off on the touchlines. But, in images that could well come to define this achievement more than any other, Peter O’Mahony could no longer hold back the tears of joy and relief.

Jason Cowman, who has soldiered with O’Mahony and brought his own brilliance as a strength and conditioning coach to this Irish squad for 15 years, provided a shoulder to lean on as the Munster captain softened like never before in front of the cameras. On top of his gardening exploits, his hard man image was now taking a further battering.

O’Mahony was oblivious to squad members such as Cian Prendergast, Craig Casey and fellow Munster backrower Gavin Coombes congratulating him. The enormity of Ireland’s landmark series win had briefly overwhelmed him, primarily as he was one of those who had travelled the longest road to this point.

Along with Keith Earls, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray and Cian Healy, O’Mahony was one of the five players in last week’s matchday 23 who were survivors from the last Irish expedition to New Zealand, the 3-0 series defeat sealed by a 60-0 loss in Hamilton.

It means a huge amount. It’s not just the four weeks of work, it’s been 18 months, two years of graft and understanding and learning

—  Peter O’Mahony

Not long after regaining his composure and taking part in the celebrations, a bootless O’Mahony made his way through a curtain into the adjoining media interview room, with a bottle of the sponsor’s brew in hand.

“It means a huge amount. It’s not just the four weeks of work, it’s been 18 months, two years of graft and understanding and learning. We had the French away loss and the learnings that we took from the first Test and I’m delighted for the lads. I’m delighted they got their reward for the hard work they put in, especially the young fellas.”

For sure, Dan Sheehan, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Mack Hansen and Hugo Keenan have brought a freshness to the team since the chastening 2019 World Cup quarter-final defeat by the All Blacks, as have the late developing Jamison Gibson-Park and James Lowe.

To have won three of the four clashes against the All Blacks in this World Cup cycle, even though three were in New Zealand, wouldn’t have been possible without O’Mahony and the other 30-something Test veterans either.

Ireland have now won five of the last eight meetings with the All Blacks and Sexton has started every one of those games (as well as a win and draw with the Lions, meaning he has a 6-1-3 record in his last 10 starts against them).

O’Mahony missed out on the breakthrough Chicago win, but has now been involved in the last four victories over New Zealand. He started the November 2018 win in the Aviva Stadium, adapted to his new role as an impact replacement last November with relish – earning that decisive late penalty, nearly taking Joey Carbery’s hand off in celebration and then declaring it the best environment he’d known in all his time as a player.

Healy has also played in all five Irish wins over the All Blacks, appearing off the bench in Chicago and starting in November 2018 before re-adapting to a replacement role in the last three encounters.

Murray was an integral part of Chicago, as well as starting all three Lions Tests in 2017, before missing out on the November 2018 win, and has also had to adapt to the role of a replacement in the last three wins over the All Blacks.

Earls missed out on Chicago before starting the 2018 victory, but was also on the bench last November, before missing out on the second Test despite scoring a try in the first Test, and then returning for the third.

A la O’Mahony, not only did Earls decline to throw his toys out of the pram but he also said the togetherness of this squad was the best of any team he’d played with in his career.

Lest we forget, that 2012 team was also a bloody good one and numbered the likes of Paul O’Connell, Seán O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip and Brian O’Driscoll, among others. They were unlucky not to win the second Test, which had been an incredible effort after a year-long World Cup season. That Hamilton Horror Show was just a week too far, when everything could go wrong did go wrong, and the All Blacks – as only they do and would show in the 2019 quarter-final – ruthlessly went for the jugular.

A dozen years before the 2012 tour, O’Driscoll’s hat-trick in Paris in 2000 had helped earn a first win away to France since 1972 and was the first of a truckload of boxes to be ticked.

Schmidt left a huge legacy and Sexton was as much a disciple as his on-field general, but the Irish captain gives Farrell full credit for driving this culture

In 2002, Ireland beat Australia, then world champions, for the first time since 1979, and now have a 5-2 record in their last seven games against the Wallabies.

In 2004, Ireland beat the Springboks for the first time since 1965, and since that day hold a 5-4 record over the current world champions.

Most of all, that team finally made the landmark triumph its talent merited when delivering Ireland’s first Grand Slam since 1948 in 2009.

While that made the World Cup quarter-final defeat by a seriously good Welsh vintage in 2011 all the more disappointing, a remodelled team under Joe Schmidt emerged to claim the back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015, so emulating the class of 1948 and ‘49.

When Ireland were shorn of arguably their five best players for another antic-climactic World Cup quarter-final exit by a brilliant Argentinian team in 2015, it meant O’Connell followed O’Driscoll into retirement.

But greatness shifted from lock and outside centre to the halfbacks and tighthead, and as a new breed of high achieving Leinster players became bulk suppliers, so a brilliant new team ticked more boxes.

The historic 2016 win in Chicago to beat the All Blacks for the first time in 111 years was preceded by a first win over the Springboks in South Africa, and followed in 2018 by another Grand Slam in 2018, a first series win in Australia since 1979 and a first ever win over New Zealand on Irish soil.

And now this.

Clearly, Andy Farrell has used all his experience of squads and touring with England, the Lions and Ireland to create this all-for-one, one-for-all bond, which is even more of an achievement given a travelling party of 70-plus for a five-match tour of New Zealand. You could see it in the way they all contributed to the warm-up, and how the unused players celebrated.

Schmidt left a huge legacy and Sexton was as much a disciple as his on-field general, but the Irish captain gives Farrell full credit for driving this culture. One ventures that it’s contributed to Sexton also enjoying both playing and touring as much as ever.

Farrell also allows the culture and performances to be very player driven. Such was the size of the party in New Zealand that the players travelled separately in the first bus to and from training, without any member of the coaching or backup staff.

When the drivers asked them for a photographic memento from their week in Wellington after their training session last Thursday at Jerry Collins Stadium, the players all happily disembarked, and insisted that Sexton break from his media duties inside the clubhouse to join them. He skipped out and theatrically jumped and landed into the frame.

Sexton clearly enjoys touring, playing and competing as much as ever, is ultra-professional in looking after his body and as a father of young kids has an understanding wife and family.

Farrell is an easy-going, emotionally intelligent, self-confident family man himself who doesn’t sweat the small stuff. He evidently had an idea of how he wanted Ireland to play and evolve, particularly in its attack, and to that end assembled a top-class coaching ticket.

People who never experience it, the environment is special and the coaching team have given us a great platform to play off but the buzz and the craic that we have together is a different animal and that’s why you want to get in

—  Peter O’Mahony

It was brave, it had its teething issues but it’s been clear for some time now that something special was being built. And whether an impact sub last November or a starter in this series, O’Mahony says his attitude is “no different”.

“For me, whether you’re wearing ‘20′ or ‘6′, or ‘17′ or ‘1′, to be amongst this group of people is special and we enjoy our time together. People who never experience it, the environment is special and the coaching team have given us a great platform to play off but the buzz and the craic that we have together is a different animal and that’s why you want to get in.

“You play as hard as you can with your clubs to get back in to try and make a difference and to try and learn. Every day you come to training you’re learning something, whether you’re big Joe [McCarthy] or your Johnny Sexton. You’re learning all the time, which is a great environment and an enjoyable place to be.”

Farrell has spoken about the emotion that O’Mahony still brings to the dressingroom, and it was so evident last Saturday, yet the player himself said: “We’re trying to get away from the emotion side of it. That will come with international rugby and how much that means to you but it’s about process and how you deliver your performance and how calm you can be when everything is going mental around you.

“And in a third Test like that, a third Test series decider against the All Blacks away from home, it’s a mad environment and [it’s about] how cool can you be in those scenarios,” said O’Mahony, highlighting the response to the All Blacks third-quarter salvo of three tries. There was no one getting uneasy, everyone stuck to the system and you saw the way the bench came on and ramped the game up for us again.”

Akin to O’Mahony, Healy, Murray and Earls, similarly Farrell highlighted how Jack Conan hasn’t sulked at being named on the bench, instead making positive impacts in every game.

Others have become more used to this role. Carbery has now closed out all five Irish wins over the All Blacks, Finlay Bealham has done so four times and Rob Herring on the last three occasions.

There’s also a core of players in or nearing their prime who have none of the historical baggage of before.

As with Sexton, Tadhg Furlong has started all five Irish wins over the All Blacks, as well as the Wellington Test with the Lions. So his combined win-loss-record against them is 6-1-4.

Josh van der Flier was a 27th-minute replacement for Jordi Murphy in Chicago and has started all of the ensuing quartet of victories, so his record is 5-0-3. James Ryan has also started the last four wins. Bundee Aki has started three and played off the bench in another. Ditto Andrew Porter.

Garry Ringrose, an unused sub in Chicago, has started three of the ensuing wins. Keenan, Lowe, Gibson-Park and Doris all have a 3-1 record against the All Blacks, and Hansen’s is 2-0, both away.

It’s a young team, we’re incredibly hungry and you drip feed in a few of the older fellas and it’s a good mix to continue the progression that we need to keep building towards the World Cup

—  Peter O’Mahony

None of this provides any guarantees that, say, the All Blacks wouldn’t re-enact the Tokyo quarter-final win by doing something similar in Paris but at least the mystique and inferiority complex has been removed.

The cynics, the disgruntled and the anti-rugby lobby will await proof that the team has not again peaked a year before a World Cup but O’Mahony vowed: “Mentally it’s a different animal. You can’t predict the future but the group of players that we’ve built, it’s a young team, we’re incredibly hungry and you drip feed in a few of the older fellas and it’s a good mix to continue the progression that we need to keep building towards the World Cup.

“Because that’s what it is, we’re not going to stand here and say it isn’t the goal, the World Cup cycle. The tour was a great test for us, three Tests, two Maori games, a bit of chaos, we’re moving [between cities], guys are doubling up, Keith Earls is playing a crazy amount of minutes within four days of each other.

“That’s what World Cups are like and that’s why we’ve got to prepare ourselves for and we dealt with it really well. But look, you bank that now and you move on.”

There will be at least no pebbles under his towel on his holidays in Portugal.

“It’s a different place we’re going, from 60-0 to winning a series in New Zealand. That summer [of 2012] was a tough place. I know I was a young fella but the last time we left here it was 60 points to nil and now it’s winning a series 2-1.

“If you’d have asked me back then would it have happened I probably would have told you ‘no’.”

First Test

New Zealand 42 Ireland 19

Scoring Sequence – 6 mins: Earls try 0-5; 21: J Barrett try, con 7-5; 30: Reece try, J Barrett con 14-5; 36: Tupaea try, J Barrett con 21-5; 38: Savea try, J Barrett con 28-5; (half-time 28-5); 44: Ringrose try, Carbery con 28-12; 53: Savea try, J Barrett con 35-12; 71: Sowakula try, J Barrett con 42-12; 77: Aki try, Carbery con 42-19.

NEW ZEALAND: Jordie Barrett; Sevu Reece, Reiko Ioane, Quinn Tupaea, Leicester Fainga’anuku; Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; George Bower, Codie Taylor, Ofa Tu’ungafasi; Brodie Retallick, Samuel Whitelock; Scott Barrett, Sam Cane (capt), Ardie Savea.

Replacements: Samisoni Taukei’aho for Taylor, Karl Tu’inukuafe for Bower, Angus Ta’avao for Tu’ungafasi (all 55 mins), Finlay Christie for Smith, Richie Mo’unga for Tupaea (both 60), Pita Gus Sowakula for Retalick (63), Dalton Papalii for Cane, Braydon Ennor for Ioane (both 67). Sinbinned: Tu’inukuafe (79 mins).

IRELAND: Hugo Keenan; Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong; James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Joey Carbery for Sexton (31 mins), Jack Conan for Doris, Bundee Aki for Earls (both 56), Dave Heffernan for Sheehan (63), Kieran Treadwell for (65), Sheehan for Heffernan (67), Tom O’Toole for Furlong (68), Conor Murray for Gibson-Park (73). Not used: Cian Healy.

Referee: Karl Dickson (RFU).

Second Test

New Zealand 12 Ireland 23

Scoring Sequence –3 mins: Porter try, Sexton con 0-7; 14: Sexton pen 0-10; 40 (+1): B Barrett try, J Barrett con 7-10; (half-time 7-10); 49: Porter try, Sexton con 7-17; 56: Sexton pen 7-20; 68: Sexton pen 7-23; 78: Jordan try 12-23.

NEW ZEALAND: Jordie Barrett; Sevu Reece, Reiko Ioane, Quinn Tupaea, Leicester Fainga’anuku; Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; George Bower, Codie Taylor, Ofa Tu’ungafasi; Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett; Dalton Papalii, Sam Cane (capt), Ardie Savea.

Replacements: Angus Ta’avao for Papalii (26-36 mins), Aidan Ross for Savea (31), Patrick Tupulotu for (Retallick 48-56), Will Jordan (Crusaders) for Fainga’anuku (49), Samisoni Taukei’aho (Chiefs) for Taylor, Richie Mo’unga for Beauden Barrett (both 56), Folau Fakatava for (62), Pita Gus Sowakula for Papalii (69).

Sinbinned: Fainga’anuku (17-27 mins), Tu’ungafasi (25-35).

Sent-off: Angus Ta’avao (31 mins).

IRELAND: Hugo Keenan; Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong; James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Bundee Aki for Ringrose (31 mins), Rob Herring for Sheehan, Jack Conan for Doris, Cian Healy for Porter, Finlay Bealham for Furlong (all 64), Kieran Treadwell for Beirne, Conor Murray for Gibson-Park (both 68), Joey Carbery for Sexton (73), Doris for O’Mahony (76). Sinbinned: Ryan (40-50 mins).

Referee: Jaco Peyper (SARU).

Third Test

New Zealand 22 Ireland 32

Scoring Sequence – 4 mins: van der Flier try 0-5; 23: J Barrett pen 3-5; 28: Keenan try, Sexton 3-12; 32: Sexton pen 3-15; 37: Henshaw try, Sexton con 3-22; (half-time 3-22); 44: Savea try, J Barrett con 10-22; 52: A Ioane try, J Barrett con 17-22; 54: Sexton pen 17-25; 60: Jordan try 22-25; 65: Herring try, Sexton con 22-32.

NEW ZEALAND: Jordie Barrett; Will Jordan, Reiko Ioane, David Havili, Sevu Reece; Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; George Bower, Codie Taylor, Nepo Laulala; Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock; Akira Ioane, Sam Cane (capt), Ardie Savea.

Replacements: Ofa Tu’ungafasi for Laulala (h-t, Laulala for Tu’ungafasi (45 mins), Tupou Vaa’i for Retallick (51), Dane Coles for Taylor, Folau Fakatava for Smith, Richie Mo’unga for Reece (all 61), Dalton Papalii for Cane (64), Karl Tu’inukuafe for Bower (71), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for R Ioane (70).

IRELAND: Hugo Keenan; Mack Hansen, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong; James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Cian Healy for Van der Flier (54 mins) and for Porter (70), Rob Herring for Sheehan (61), Jack Conan for O’Mahony (66), Keith Earls for Aki (69), Finlay Bealham for Furlong (70), Conor Murray for Gibson-Park (71), Kieran Treadwell for Beirne, Joey Carbery for Sexton (both 76).

Sinbinned: Porter (51-61 mins).

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England).



Source link

Leave a Comment