Ferris admits occasion got to Irish
March 21, 2010
Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris admitted the side my have tried too hard to end their stay at Croke Park with a win © Getty Images
Stephen Ferris fears Ireland were consumed by the occasion as their Croke Park farewell party ended with an anti-climatic upset.
Scotland stunned the home crowd with a richly-deserved 23-20 victory that meant they evaded the Six Nations wooden spoon while ending their rivals' final assault on a fifth Triple Crown in seven seasons. It was a tense and enjoyable contest that was decided by man of the match Dan Parks' nerveless final-minute penalty from near the touchline.
Ireland were shattered by the result and their failure to deliver a fairytale ending to their highly successful four-year tenancy at the cathedral of Gaelic sport. Ferris, the Lions and Ulster flanker, believes the team may have learnt a valuable lesson in the importance of closeting themselves during the pre-match build up.
"There was a lot of hype coming into this game and you can't help but lift the paper and read about it," he said. "It was a massive day for us and the whole of Ireland but perhaps sometimes you need to distance yourselves from that.
"For me personally there was so much hype about Scotland being the last game at Croke Park that you can try too hard and sometimes that isn't the best thing to do. When you're on the pitch it's all guns blazing like every Test match, but before the game we were thinking about the occasion a bit more than we usually would.
"Maybe that impacted our game, maybe it did for mine slightly. That's the way it was for me and it might be the same for a few of the other players. But that's experience and it's in the bank now."
Ireland finished as Six Nations runners-up for the sixth time this decade, leaving them to reflect on a frustrating defence of their crown. The title decider in Paris five weeks ago dealt a mortal blow to their Grand Slam ambitions and also had the effect of killing off a poor tournament after just two rounds.
"Obviously we can't view this Six Nations as being successful because we haven't won anything," said Ferris. "This is a team that can win trophies and should win trophies. Everybody's building towards a big World Cup but we didn't take our eye off the money and we wanted to win this Triple Crown.
"We've only lost two games out of the last 15 so we're not a side that is used to losing. It's a knock back when you are beaten by anybody, especially at home where we pride ourselves on our performances.
"But we'll take a lot out of these two defeats in this Six Nations and the younger lads will learn from them. We believe we're still on the right road, despite what's happened."
Ireland bristled with intent during a lightning-fast start but were hamstrung by a succession of handling errors that enabled Scotland to survive.
"We made too many mistakes on the day. It was tit for tat the whole game," said Ferris. "By the third quarter we hit a purple patch and we thought we'd kick on but every time we got back into the game they kept hunting us down.
"When they have a kicker like Dan Parks who slots them over from everywhere, it's very difficult. There was no lack of effort from us and it was a tight game that could have gone either way."
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape