Ireland counting the cost after hard fought win

Ireland counting the cost after hard fought win

By Brendan O'Brien

Peter O'Mahony, out.

Paul O'Connell, all but certainly out.

Johnny Sexton, better than initially expected.

The morning after the night before at team HQ outside Newport and the latest casualty update proved to be something of a mixed bag for Ireland in the wake of the team's exceptional 24-9 defeat of France in the final Pool D game in Cardiff.

Ireland counting the cost after hard fought win

"Paul O'Connell appears to have suffered a significant hamstring injury and was hospitalised overnight," said team manager Mick Kearney on Monday morning. "He is having scans later today to clarify the extent of the injury.

If O'Connell is ruled out for the remainder of the tournament, it will also bring his long Ireland career to a close and it was revealed that it will be left to the captain himself to decide whether he wishes to remain in camp with the squad thereafter.

Ireland counting the cost after hard fought win

"Peter O'Mahony has suffered a knee ligament injury and is returning to Dublin today for specialist opinion and will play no further part in the tournament," Kearney added. "Johnny Sexton suffered a groin injury. Initial clinical assessment is encouraging and it is scanning later today."

Decisions on who will be flown in to replace O'Mahony, Jared Payne (who was ruled out of the tournament last week with a foot injury) and, in all probability, Paul O'Connell will be taken later on Monday. Should Sexton pass muster, it would a major boost given the distress in which he left the field and the sense there and then that his World Cup was over.

Joe Schmidt and his coaching staff had already met early in the morning to discuss possible replacement needs ahead of their first World Cup 2015 knockout fixture next weekend and Sean O'Brien's fate will also have to be taken into account in any decisions made.

The flanker was caught on camera landing a punch to Pascal Pape's midriff during the defeat of France and, though referee Nigel Owens missed that, the citing official will not. He has 36 hours post-match to cite any player for suspected foul conduct.

O'Brien's likely loss for next Sunday's quarter-final against Argentina is just another significant blow to a side that, the aforementioned aside, appear to have reported nothing more than a host of players with the usual bumps and bruises.

"It was a physical and hard match and we are travelling up to Cardiff later today so it will be a complete rest day," Kearney explained. "The intention then tomorrow will be just to have a walk-through and a few meetings.

"The first two days will be very light. There will be a full training session on Wednesday, a down day Thursday and then another full training session the Friday, so we have a little bit of time."

Admirably though they coped against France, it is impossible not to imagine that the loss of at least three, and maybe more, of their first-choice players will have a major impact on their ambitions in this tournament.

Whatever about that, Rob Kearney admitted that the soaring casualty rate had taken some of the gloss off their standout defeat of their Six Nations rivals at the Millennium Stadium.

"It probably does," said the full-back. "You never like to lose players and then there is the calibre of some of them, your captain as well. It does take a gloss off it, but the physicality of a tournament like this is so big.

"You don't have a huge amount of time to sit around and think about it, we have another huge match next weekend and we can't sit around and think too much about it. We've got to get on with it, as cruel as that may sound."

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