O'Sullivan still suffering as Irish turn turgid again


Last updated at 22:15 03 February 2008

Eddie O'Sullivan insists his players possess the belief to correct Ireland's terrible form, but doubts remain over his future after a lacklustre victory against Italy.

Ireland were left hanging on for a

five-point victory and their

difficulties against a team who

had just 10 days of training with

new coach Nick Mallett led to a

terrible atmosphere at Croke


Scroll down to read more:

But O'Sullivan remains convinced

his players showed enough form

to suggest better days ahead and

their talisman Paul O'Connell

could be back for the Scotland

game, though Gordon D'Arcy's

fractured arm, which ended his

championship, leaves O'Sullivan

with a conundrum at inside centre.

"We had a lot of line breaks, we

scrummaged very well," said

O'Sullivan. "Our line out execution

was poor at times, and we need to

improve on that, but overall I was

happy enough with what I saw."

In reality, this was a turgid Irish

display and, barring a 15-minute

window in the first half, when

there was semblance of an

off-loading game and Ronan

O'Gara tormented the Italian

wingers with cross-field kicks,

this was a contest played at the

whim of the Italians.

But seven minutes after O'Gara opened the scoring with a

penalty, they touched down. The

No 10's cross-kickwas held by

Andrew Trimble and a wonderful

one-handed off load put Girvan

Dempsey in.

But Ireland didn't kick on from

there. Bortolussi and O'Gara

swapped penalties to leave 10

between them at the hour mark,

but Ireland lacked creativity.

More damning for O'Sullivan is

that this is no great Italian side.

Ireland were mauled into

submission in the right corner

after 61 minutes when referee

Jonathan Kaplan, having waited

several minutes for television

match official Tim Hayes,

eventually awarded a try to

Martin Castrogiovanni.

Another penalty swap between

O'Gara and Bortolussi followed,

before Ireland sandbagged

themselves behind a defensive

line the Italians failed to breach.

The win was safe, but little else

around the Irish camp looks

secure, including the coach's


Paris in five days time does not

offer much hope of a cure.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now