29 Oct 2018
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP IRELAND 36 SCOTLAND 10 – Report
New Ireland head coach starts with a win
Captain Liam Finn hinted he will retire from international rugby league next month on the perfect note if he can lead Ireland to 2021 World Cup qualification.
Finn publicly criticised elements of the Wolfhounds’ selection policy earlier this year and suggested he had been forced into retirement - but following administrative changes in the Emerald Isle he was on deck today for a dominant 36-10 victory over Scotland at Morton Stadium.
“It was probably a bit of gamesmanship, that press release,”
Finn told RLWC2021.com.
“It was done for a purpose. I never wanted to finish playing on those terms. People needed to be told what was going on and we (players) weren’t having a voice.
“I decided to give us one. Some people over here have decided to take heed of what’s been going on and they’ve taken over and it’s onwards and upwards from now on.”
Finn knows he won’t be still playing when England 2021 comes around. The Wolfhounds need to finish in the top two of the European Championships to qualify.
“I’m 25 next week - if I got to that, it would be a miracle. “But if I can take these boys there this year, I’ll take pride in that. I very much doubt (I’ll play next year) … probably unlikely.”
Scotland, who lost winger Lewis Tierney in the warm-up, were behind the eight-ball from the the moment they knocked on from the kick-off.
Still, the first try didn’t come until the 16th minute and it took some scoring, a Finn kick tapped into the waiting hands of second rower Tyrone McCarthy.
An brain-explosion in-goal mix-up by the Bravehearts conceded another try four minutes later, to winger Ethan Ryan and the body language already indicated who was on top.
Five-eighth Greg McNally skipped through a chink in the left-side defence of Scotland on the half-hour and perfectly positioned debutant Declan O’Connell for another home-side touchdown.
There were no floodgates - just a consistent trickle of Irish points. Centre James Bentley’s 20 metre run and halfback Finn’s sideline conversion rounded off the half at 20-0.
Wolfhounds winger Alan McMahon made it 24-0 before Stuart Littler’s team finally had its line breached via Frankie Mariano. Scotland maintained service for the rest of the game before a spectacular try from a bomb after the siren left exactly the right summation of the contest for the few hundred spectators present.
“We got off to a really slow start - there were some poor errors,” said Scotland co-coach Chris Chester,
“Four tries from kicks was really disappointing - maybe five. They didn’t break us down with any structure. It was a steep learning curve for everybody, including myself.
“We’ll be hopefully better than we were today next week against Wales and come the French game, we’ll be firing on all cylinders.”