Ireland managed to secure the Triple Crown in the inaugural Wheelchair Rugby Six Nations Championship earlier this afternoon beating Scotland 30 – 8 in their final match of the tournament. Their final status depends on matches still being played but the Ireland camp will be happy to pick up silverware on their first outing.
The two teams had build up a great friendship over the duration of this tournament, posing for a combined team photo before the game, but those friendships were quickly forgotten when the game kicked off with Ireland quickly applying pressure to force two quick penalties for a 6 – 0 lead.
Scotland tried to respond but they struggled to break down the resolute Irish defence and had to resort to kicking for territory. A wayward punt was quickly snaffled up by Ireland and slick hands unleashed “Bobby” Merrigan who crossed for his eighth try of the tournament. The winger was on great form and almost got in for a second score after a fabulous weave to the outside only to be bundled into touch by the Scottish defence.
Ireland made their pressure count with their third penalty to take the score to 16 – 0 before restored captain James McCarthy sped in for a try, reminiscent of his score against the English, to push the score along to 23 – 0.
The Scottish outfit refused to buckle and hit back with a try in the corner as reward for their good play in the set piece taking the halftime score to Ireland 23 Scotland 5.
The second half was a very open affair with both sides putting teh ball through the hands but the defences were on top.
Scotland took three points on offer through a penalty to close the gap to 23-8 before Irelands solid No. 8 Paddy Forbes went in for the final try of the game. The try was converted and Ireland secuted the tripple Crown with a 30 – 8 win.
Thus ended a great week for Ieland with the players embracing and applauding the appreciative fans and fellow teams for their support. For the captain, James McCarthy it was an emotional week with an unbreakable bond built between the players.
Great credit to Team Manager, Nicky Hamill, whose team talks were very uplifting for the players and to Lisa Kelly, the coach, who did a great job in getting the team right for the week.
The captain was proud to lead the team to a little piece of history and as he had been playing in the front row for the last three games he dedicated the winning of the Triple Crown to the memory of his late father, who had also played front row, and to the memory of Jamie Boyle, a great friend, fellow athlete and training partner who died suddenly back in January.
Congratulations to all concerned from the Front Row Union – we’ll put up the final standings tomorrow when we have all the results in.
Ireland Six Nations Squad: Nicky Hamill (Manager), Lisa Kelly (Coach), Will Thornton (Asst. Coach), Pat O’Neill, Graham Merrigan, Paddy Forbes, Bill Byrne, Raisa Carolan, Kenneth Caulfield, Padraic Hayes, Derek Murphy, James McCarthy (C).