Media Watch: Deegan delighted with Ireland debut and Conway impresses O’Driscoll

Peter White
08 February 2020

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Guinness PRO14 action may have taken a back seat this weekend with the Championship primed for its return on Friday, but a host of its star players were on display on Saturday in two crunching Six Nations encounters.

Sunday’s media watch starts in Ireland, where the national team enjoyed an impressive 24-14 win over defending Grand Slam champions Wales in Dublin.

Having crawled over the line in their opening-round clash at home to Scotland, Andy Farrell’s men were much more impressive second time around and Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale lauded the creative licence the 44-year-old has given the squad.

While Ireland were certainly easy on the eye at times, Stockdale’s Ulster teammate Iain Henderson insisted the team’s latest performance was the result of hard work and he suggested such a win provided a good platform with a trip to Twickenham next up.

Amidst the victory was an international debut for Leinster’s Max Deegan, who spoke of his delight at winning his maiden Ireland cap while insisting he is determined to add more to his tally.

While Deegan is hoping to continue to impress on the international scene, Leinster colleague Johnny Sexton is a Guinness Six Nations veteran and demonstrated the leadership qualities that recently earned him the Ireland captaincy.

Conor Murray had been the subject of criticism ahead of the Aviva Stadium clash with many calling for Ulster’s John Cooney to be included at No.9 from the start, but Sexton suggested the Munster stalwart still has a big part to play in the team following his commanding performance.

Another Munster star to be singled out for praise following the win over Wales was Andrew Conway, with former Leinster hero Brian O’Driscoll identifying him as one of Ireland’s best players of recent times.

Wales tasted Six Nations defeat for the first time since they visited Dublin two years ago, and although skipper Alun Wyn Jones suggested referee Romain Poite might have punished Ireland more than he did, the Ospreys man didn’t subject blame on the Frenchman for the loss.

The result marked Wayne Pivac’s first defeat at the Wales helm, and the New Zealander was left to rue a series of handling errors, while also being left frustrated at Cardiff Blues star Josh Adams leaving the field injured.

Finally, Scotland came out on the losing end of a hard-fought tussle with England at BT Murrayfield, with Ellis Genge scoring the only try as England crawled over the line 13-6 in challenging conditions.

Former Glasgow Warriors star Stuart Hogg was guilty of a high-profile error for the second successive week, but head coach Gregor Townsend was quick to defend his captain after full-time.

Scotland’s defeat leaves them fifth in the Championship table after two matches, above Italy who travel to France on Sunday.

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