Ode to the Wolfhounds; The Irish left too soon..

Jack Byrnes Roar Rookie

By , Jack Byrnes is a Roar Rookie

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    As they say in all the great coming of age tales; sometimes life ain’t fair. When an international rugby league tournament is thrown into the mix though, life stops making sense all together.

    On Friday night, an almost bored looking Kangaroos outfit put the sword through the tournament’s most disappointing side – Samoa. A few Matthew Wright bell ringers and a Herman Ese’ese guillotine impersonation aside, the Samoans were simply toothless.

    Not that it was a great surprise however.

    After all, this was a side that was trounced by New Zealand, outplayed by Tonga and completely out enthused by a group of Scotsmen missing three of their best (drunken) players.

    And yet there they were in the quarter final, standing face to face with the most rampant and ruthless rugby league outfit in the world. 46 points to zip later, the usual international rugby league sceptics were given enough fuel to last all the way through to the next World Cup.

    All the while, the Ireland Wolfhounds were on a plane back to the other side of the world with zilch to show for their splendid showing. Had they treated the footy like something other than a bar of soap against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby, we could well have been talking about the Irish alongside Australia and Tonga as one of the only unbeaten sides in the Cup.

    Api Pewhairangi Ireland Rugby League World Cup 2017

    (NRLPhotos/Scott Davis)

    Despite their narrow defeat to the Kumuls in front a rapturous crowd, the Wolfhounds were the tournament’s undoubted surprise packet. In Week 1 they were expected to be taught a lesson by Jimmy Tedesco’s Italian chargers in Cairns. It took all but ten minutes for that become a pipe dream. Led by veterans Liam Finn and Scott Grix, the men in green destroyed the Azzuri in an assured showing.

    Forwards Oliver Roberts and Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook were immense through out the tournament. Roberts in particular would not look out of place packing down in an NRL scrum. At only 23 years of age, time is also on his side. By the same token, former England hooker Michael Mcillorum was also highly impressive. Against the Welsh he almost single handedly master minded a genuine demolition job.

    And yet, despite winning two games by more than 20 points, the Wolfhounds “failed” to qualify for the knockouts. In a week where the Ireland football (soccer) team also failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup for the fourth consecutive tournament, its fair to say the ‘luck of the Irish’ is all but a myth for those in the sporting realm.

    Back to rugby league, fans of the Wolfhounds (and the game in general) have more than enough reason to be frustrated. While the Irish wouldn’t have come close to beating Australia, you can bet your bottom dollar it would have been more of a contest than what was cooked up in Darwin on Friday.

    While everyone talks up Jason Taumalolo’s Tonga, and rightly so, we shouldn’t under appreciate the performance of the Irish at the 2017 World Cup.

    Sadly though, they left too soon.