Not going to bother rehashing that one, but at the moment I reckon that Ireland’s World Cup ambitions are 3 injuries away from disaster. There are six to eight stand-in players who need at least six starts to find their international feet and there aren’t going to be enough games between now and the World Cup to slot them in smoothly into the existing team without wholesale disruption or meaningless ‘second string’ matches over the summer.
For those of you with short memories here’s the team: G Murphy; T Bowe, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, K Earls; J Sexton, T O’Leary; C Healy, R Best, J Hayes; D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell; S Ferris, D Wallace, J Heaslip. Replacements: S Cronin, T Buckley, L Cullen, S Jennings, E Reddan, R O’Gara, R Kearney. Paddy Wallace to step into the centre if D’Arcy drops out.
I just despair to see Buckley anywhere near the squad and I wonder how hard it must be for the likes of Hayes, O’Callaghan, O’Connell, Wallace, Heaslip, Bowe and O’Driscoll to continue to raise their game when they know there is no meaningful competition for places.
Good British/Irish/Ulster-Scot that I am I’m actually going to predict a Scotland win for this one. No real logic behind it except that Scotland have nothing to lose, they’ve actually been playing reasonably well and have been a bit unlucky this campaign, and they should have us up front. A defeat might even do Ireland some good.
At the end of the day it’ll probably come down to whoever handles the atmosphere of the last game at Croke Park the best.
Match Kicks Off at 5:00pm but don’t expect any play until 15 minutes after that once they get the EP versions of all the anthems out of the way!