Olympics

Agony For Ireland As Last-Minute Try Costs Them Dearly In Rugby Sevens

Agony For Ireland As Last-Minute Try Costs Them Dearly In Rugby Sevens

The Ireland men's rugby sevens team suffered heartbreak on Tuesday in their bid to qualify for the Olympic quarter-finals.

In their final group game against Kenya, they required a victory by eight points or more. They led 12-0 going into the final minute, but then conceded a try to Kenya's Vincent Onyala.

Ireland got off to a quick start with first half tries from Hugo Lennox and Harry McNulty but then failed to score in the second half.

"Nobody wanted that scenario," McNulty told RTÉ.

"It's really disappointing. Yesterday was an off day, and we really didn't play well at all. We were on top that whole game.

"Uncharacteristic errors [cost us]. One pass to Jordan (Conroy) one side or the other and those are pretty much guaranteed scores. It's really hard to understand why we played to such a lack of standard after such a great tournament in Monaco, and playing really well against the French to get here.

"It's really difficult to understand. I've been thinking about it for the last 24 hours. We've played in stadiums like this, been in the World Series in big cities, living in hotels with 16 other teams, sharing dining halls, buses, training facilities, ice baths - it's not like any of this is new to us. Just because you stick Olympic rings everywhere doesn't change it in terms of our mentality or how we're able to play.

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"I'm really proud of all the lads. It took six years to get here, and it's such an amazing experience to be in the Olympics. We're hard on ourselves, and we want to show the world what we're capable of. There's no better stage to do that on than the Olympics.

"We know we can take away that we're Olympians but when you look back at your Olympic experience, you want to have achieved some type of greatness or really played to the best of your abilities, even if you don't win any games.

"Playing to the best of your abilities, you can't have any regrets with that. But looking back on those three games, you're really questioning why we didn't play to the best of our abilities."


Ireland captain Billy Dardis said not qualifying for the quarter-finals from the position they were in - 12-0 up with a minute to go - was "devastating".

"It's really frustrating," he said.

"We aren't a bad team. We're quite a good team. When we're on front foot, we're really dangerous. It just demonstrates the level of rugby on the World Series.

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"You just have to be so good at the basics. Our catch-pass, that's what let us down, our decision-making under pressure. To not score a try in that second half is really frustrating and deflating.

"We might be a little bit disappointed and embarrassed ourselves but rugby sevens in Ireland is really in its infancy. We're only really getting going.

"We're still a bunch of young lads who've come on and done something really special in the last few years. It's something to be really proud of. If you're a young kid in Ireland, and you're watching this, make this a goal. Make getting to the Olympics, and playing for Ireland a dream. If you just put your heart and soul into something, dig deep, and trust yourself, you can do something really special."

Ireland's Olympics is not yet over. They will now play for the ninth to 12th place classification spots at the Games.

Watch: Mona McSharry Brims With Pride After Historic Olympic Performance

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PJ Browne
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