Ireland 55 Canada 0
Declan Kidney’s reign as Ireland coach began in predictably convincing fashion as hapless Canada were swept aside at Thomond Park.
Exciting 21-year-old debutant Keith Earls crossed in the third minute to begin a first-half romp that also produced two tries for Rob Kearney and further scores for Jamie Heaslip and Tommy Bowe.
The visitors fared better in the second period, largely due to Ireland’s scrappy performance, but substitute back rowers David Wallace and Alan Quinlan, and Bowe again, made sure the half-century was completed in the dying minutes.
Brian O’Driscoll led out his country for the 49th time and formed a new centre partnership with Leinster team-mate Luke Fitzgerald, while Earls took his place at full-back.
Surprise selection Tony Buckley started at tighthead prop against a Canucks front row featuring Glasgow Warriors’ Kevin Tkachuk, with the visitors’ full-back James Pritchard providing menace with the boot.
It took the Irish less than three minutes to score their first try for the new head coach.
Ronan O’Gara’s high kick was spilt by Justin Mensah-Coker in his own 22, and the ball was spread wide through the hands of O’Driscoll and Fitzgerald to the on-rushing Earls, who crashed over to make it the perfect start to his international career. O’Gara kicked the extras.
In the eighth minute, Canada were penalised for hands in the ruck and O’Gara stroked the ball between the posts from 30 metres to make it 10-0.
Kearney then scored a controversial second try in the 13th minute after latching on to another kick that the Canucks failed to deal with.
Canada winger Ciaran Hearn appeared to touch the bobbling ball down first under pressure from the Ireland wing, but the score was awarded by the TV referee.
O’Gara brilliantly slotted the two points from wide on the left as the rain started to fall once more, soon becoming torrential.
The third try arrived in the 27th minute as the Irish opted for a scrum when awarded a penalty 10 yards from the visitors’ line.
Number eight Heaslip broke and barged over, although the TV referee was required to rubber-stamp his effort. O’Gara, predictably, added the two points.
Another touchdown followed in the 31st minute when Ireland kicked a quick penalty wide and Earls off-loaded to Kearney to score his second. O’Gara maintained his perfect record with a conversion from the right touchline.
In the final minute of a one-sided half, Eoin Reddan fooled the Canadian defence by going blind from a ruck, affording Bowe the easiest of arced run-ins from 15 metres.
O’Gara slotted once more to take his personal tally to 13 points.
Prop John Hayes and hooker Rory Best were introduced to the Ireland front row at the interval, for Buckley and Jerry Flannery, respectively.
Clearly stung by their first-half mauling, Canada started the second period more brightly, but wasted a good position in front of the Irish posts when they inexplicably dived over the top at a ruck.
Earls, enjoying a fine first outing, then broke from O’Driscoll’s miss pass and ran 30 metres into the Canucks’ 22 but was eventually stopped and the visitors cleared their lines.
In an attempt to kick-start Ireland’s half, Kidney threw on the five remaining replacements in the 56th minute, with the pack now resembling that likely to start against New Zealand next weekend with David Wallace and Quinlan in the back row.
A sixth try finally arrived in the 63rd minute when substitute Peter Stringer fed Bowe, who broke through the tackle before popping a pass inside to David Wallace to canter under the posts. Another sub, Paddy Wallace, kicked the extra points.
The best try of the match was scored in the 73rd minute as Ireland spread the ball wide to Kearney, who pulled off a one-two with Bowe before putting Quinlan in for a fine score in the left corner that brought up the half-century. Paddy Wallace was then guilty of the evening’s first missed kick from the resulting conversion.
Bowe thought he was in again but play was brought back for a forward pass – but moments later, in the final minute, he did score after a powerful burst from sub Shane Horgan. Again Paddy Wallace erred with the kick, albeit from the left touchline.