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

Jack Byrnes Roar Pro

By Jack Byrnes, Jack Byrnes is a Roar Pro

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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.

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    The Crowd Says (8)

    • November 19th 2017 @ 6:06am
      Baracuda said | November 19th 2017 @ 6:06am | ! Report

      Last time this will happen though; the next World Cup in 2021 will consist of 4 pools of 4 teams with the top 2 in each pool advancing to the quarter finals. Teams like Ireland will be pushing for the knockouts with the seeds spread out more evenly.

    • Roar Guru

      November 19th 2017 @ 8:17am
      Renegade said | November 19th 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      Yeah it will be all good from 2021 and agree, Ireland were much more deserving of a place in the finals than Samoa (that goes without saying) and they would’ve been more competitive too.

    • November 19th 2017 @ 8:51am
      Oingo Boingo said | November 19th 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

      I can’t understand how this asss about face system works ?
      So you win more games than another team , yet they advance and your eliminated.
      These boys have flown halfway around the world to be told…..Sorry Lads, but that’s just the way it works.
      Pretty disheartening.

      • November 19th 2017 @ 10:09am
        Speep said | November 19th 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

        They’ll be so happy with how the played though. How many nrl players were in Italys side..4? And they still won comfortably

    • November 19th 2017 @ 10:35am
      paul said | November 19th 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

      the blokes who put this concept together must have egg on their faces when Ireland goes home after winning games and Samoa plays a finals game after one draw. Ludicrous.

    • Roar Guru

      November 19th 2017 @ 10:39am
      Riley Pettigrew said | November 19th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

      It would have been awesome to see Ireland in quarterfinals but it was the last instance at least with the competition expanding to 16 teams in 2021.

      Ireland were an enormous breath of fresh air, it was so nice to see them competing. The RLIF, RLEF, RFL need to build off the back of this and give the Wolfhounds (and other nations) regular test football.

      A St Patrick’s Day Test between Ireland and the US is a no-brainer. Why don’t we have it already? Play it in a city like Pittsburgh, Boston or Philadelphia and watch the Irish Americans embrace it.

      It’s a joke that Ireland don’t play regular tests against England, Wales, Scotland. A return of the European Cup annually is in store.

      The Wolfhounds have so much potential to become competitive with the big three, while Liam Finn won’t be there, I’m excited to see how they go in the future.

    • November 19th 2017 @ 11:48am
      beepee said | November 19th 2017 @ 11:48am | ! Report

      And who knows what MAY have happened if Ireland has played PNG in conditions more favourable to them – say, a Melbourne evening?
      Certainly there should have been some kind of mechanism in the draw to avoid this kind of embarassing outcome.

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