Belfast Telegraph

Poor show in Cardiff as Ireland flop in Six Nations

By Billy Weir

They came, they saw, they forgot to conquer and what should have been a big pre-St Patrick's Day shindig in Cardiff was more like the Twelfth Day at Joe Biden's house.

There was plenty of hype beforehand and a gipe afterwards, in the shape of RTE's George Hook, that's G.I.P.E. - George's Independence Party for Eire - as the evils of the Irish world were placed at the feet of nasty immigrant Jared Payne, over here stealing jobs from wee Ian Madigan. More of that later.

Over on BBC1 it was hype first, Gabby Logan sent to various locations with military connections to emphasise to the bewildered that defence was going to be key, with our damsel in distress - or is that distressing damsel? - standing on a balcony at one point.

Keith Wood was out-numbered on the sidelines, Gabby, of Welsh stock herself, joined by Shane Williams and Martyn Williams, before talk turned to the great outdoors, with the roof of the Millennium Stadium open.

"It might just be Warren Gatland's day, I'm sure a drop of rain just landed on my head," said Gabby as we expected Cecilia Daly to dander into shot.

Barra Best might have been a better choice, he could maybe have taken over throwing the ball at the line-out, something his big brother, Rory, was finding a tad difficult.

A nailbiting war of attrition followed, you know it's going to be a tough game when someone called Samson is carried off, and as Wood said at the break, "it's like a game of aggressive chess".

By the end, it was checkmate to Wales, but over in Dublin, one grand old master of the game had an unexpected move up the sleeve of his sports jacket.

"I'd like to know why Ireland has a problem of picking second rate foreign players," said Hook.

"Ian Madigan has been appallingly treated," he added before Shane Horgan pointed out that only in so far that he hadn't been picked.

Fellow curmudgeon Tom McGurk fired another salvo from the dark ages, musing "Is it good enough for a guy who cannot make the All Blacks or Springboks to come over here and play for us?" as FAI chiefs nervously watched on, in case anyone remembered their past policy.

The pair hang up their boots next week, it's probably about time, things have moved on in the world. We wish them both well on Top Gear.

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