Monday 21 January 2013

Irish options.

With a number of people suggesting that Declan Kidney's job is under threat, one of the things he focused on  when he got the job was to develop a squad.

Has he achieved this?

1. Loosehead.

At loosehead, we have a certain starter in Healy, who will be in place for a number of years, and two good quality back ups in Dave Kilcoyne and Tom Court.

Compare that to 2008 when Kidney took charge, and the only loosehead option was Marcus Horan and Ireland are in unusual rude health in this position.

2. Hooker

Ireland always have had a number of quality hookers, but maybe not at the same time, with Keith Wood and the incumbent when Kidney arrived, Flannery, springing to mind.

Now, perhaps we have more options, more diverse options. But one retains the feeling that they aren't at the same level as Flannery.

Best and Strauss are battling for the starting spot, with Cronin a valuable option, and Mike Sherry backing that up.

I get the feeling that in other times Sherry might have been a valuable addition to the squad, but this strength suggests now is not the time for him.

3. Tighthead

Then there was John Hayes and the ultimately failed test of Tony Buckley.

Now it's Mike Ross, and the test of Michael Bent.

Par for the course I think

4. Second Rows

2008 saw O'Callaghan and O'Connell in the prime of their careers, with Malcolm O'Kelly and Mick O'Driscoll backing them up.

Now would see O'Connell and Ryan, being backed up by McCarthy and Tuohy.

There are more options behind that now, and with the aim being to establish more choice, that's possibly a good thing, even though the starters are probably weaker now than then.

6. Blindside Flanker

2008: Denis Leamy with Simon Easterby as back up. Stephen Ferris had long since been discarded. Scary thought that eh?

Now: Fez walks into the team, with Sean O'Brien, Peter O'Mahony in direct back up, and Ruddock, McLaughlin, Muldoon and others in behind.

Now is more better.

7. Openside

08: David Wallace with no back up.

Now: Chris Henry, but with Sean O'Brien being put "out of position". Tommy O'Donnell has finally been called up which would suggest he is next in line.

Victory for 08.


Then and Now: Jamie Heaslip, who is undoubtedly a better player now. And with O'Mahony providing quality cover, now wins hands down.

9. Scrum half

Then Reddan and Stringer were fighting it out, with Tomas O'Leary about to come in.

Now, Murray has usurped Reddan, with Marshall squeezing into third ahead of Boss and Marmion.

Reddan hasn't improved much, and Murray isn't a great option at the moment with time to improve. It's hard to pick a clear winner here.

10 Out half

Ronan O'Gara with Paddy Wallace as back up

Sexton at the height of his powers, with O'Gara performing backup and Jackson and Madigan approaching, Keatley is next in line after impressing yesterday.

For having backup, now wins comfortably.

11. Left Wing:

Then: Kearney.
Now: I'm putting my neck out and saying that Gilroy will be first choice 11 when all players return. Fitzgerald and Zebo might have something to say about that.

With the backup talent at the wings at the moment, now is significantly better prepared.

Now: D'Arcy.

With D'Arcy being injured, and Trimble being found out as not a centre but really a very good winger, now shades it. Backup in the same of Luke Marshall and Dave McSharry and Fergus McFadden add to this.


O'Driscoll vs O'Driscoll.
Back up was Trimble vs Earls/Cave.

Hard to pick a winner here, but I think 2013 edition would cope better with O'Driscoll then 08.

14. Right wing

Geordan Murphy vs Tommy Bowe, with Trimble as back up.

The fact that a fullback is up against the legend that is Bowe shows how much of victory it is for the current squad.

15. Fullback

Dempsey, with Murphy and Kearney as back up.

Kearney with Henshaw and Zebo as back up.

Victory for 2008.


2008 3 - 10 2013 with 2 splits

Say what you will, a squad is being developing, and Kidney should be congratulated about it.

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