O'Sullivan hails Irish finishing power
February 23, 2008
Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan acclaimed the finishing that underpinned the 34-13 RBS 6 Nations victory over Scotland at Croke Park.
Recalled Ulster winger Tommy Bowe ran in two tries while David Wallace, Rob Kearney and Marcus Horan also breached the whitewash.
The Scots dominated territory and possession yet finished with a solitary Simon Webster try and could only marvel at Ireland's ruthless streak.
Victory chalked up O'Sullivan's 50th Test win since becoming coach in 2002 - a fitting response to his critics.
''We created opportunities and took them. We worked very hard this week on two things,'' he said.
''One of those was playing without the ball because we knew Scotland would keep possession and that's how it transpired.
''We had to work our socks off. Having been under pressure we then scored through David with our first chance and that gave us confidence.
''We were a lot more clinical today and that was pleasing. It wasn't perfect but when you score five tries in a Six Nations match you have to be upbeat about it.''
Geordan Murphy was named man of the match, capping a tumultuous week for the Leicester full-back who was initially dropped from the 22 only to be reinstated when Girvan Dempsey sustained a hip injury.
There had been speculation that Murphy's Test career was all but over, but instead his performance has reignited the debate over who should wear the number 15 jersey.
''It's been a tough time for Geordan but he's finished on top,'' said O'Sullivan.
''It does knock a player's confidence when he is dropped from the team but you want to see how he responds and he did that very well.
''That's what you want from a player. Geordan's preference is to play at full-back but he's more than capable of operating on the wing. I'm delighted for him.''
O'Sullivan would not be drawn on who was his first choice full-back
''Girvan has been outstanding for us and has been unfairly maligned. His strike rate is extraordinary,'' he said.
''Players can be written off very quickly but Girvan has done an outstanding job.''
Ireland have now won two of their three Six Nations matches and the post World Cup revival begun against Italy is gathering pace.
''Winning through the Six Nations builds momentum and the key for us now is to continue that,'' he said
''Scotland came to Dublin with nothing to lose and everything to prove. They played some very good rugby.
''If we didn't have the right headset we wouldn't have got through the game like we did.
''This was another step forward for us and we need to keep heading in the right direction.''
Brian O'Driscoll left the pitch in the 73rd minute and sat on the bench with his right calf - which was subject to a fitness test yesterday - strapped.
But the Ireland skipper revealed there was no recurrence of the problem that restricted his training during the week.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September