Sunday Bloody Sunday: Here's how the English media reacted to beating Ireland

The English papers were chock-full of U2 puns as they revelled in what The Telegraph termed "redemption day".

Sunday Bloody Sunday: Here's how the English media reacted to beating Ireland

The English papers were chock-full of U2 puns as they revelled in what The Telegraph termed "redemption day".

Tom Cary's report on their website was titled "Ireland left lacking desire in England defeat following midweek visit from U2 singer Bono".

The Guardian's Robert Kitson wrote: "If Ireland had hoped that inviting Bono into camp during the build-up might pay on-field dividends they were sadly mistaken. The only U2 track that sprang to mind in the end was Sunday Bloody Sunday: Ireland did win the second half 12-7 but for Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray, so often their side’s tactical driving force, this was definitely a black Sabbath."

The performance of the Irish half-backs was a theme in the analysis across the papers, with Stuart Barnes of The Times opining: "[Andy] Farrell had a bad afternoon as Ireland coach. There was nothing he could do about the extra firepower of the England pack but his 54th-minute decision to exchange the labouring Murray with Ireland's best scrum half on the form of the past two years, John Cooney, was all too late. Some of us would say 54 minutes too late."

He added that England's tactical kicking flipped the formula for Ireland's 2018 win against them, "turning the screw against a not-so-much questionable as invisible Ireland back three".

Unsurprisingly, Ireland were the only country not represented in his team of the weekend.

Under the headline, "Wayward Sexton at heart of Ireland woes", The Guardian's Gerard Meagher spread the blame.

"To pin this deflating defeat all on Sexton would be unfair. His half-back partner Conor Murray was equally as poor, Jacob Stockdale horribly out of sorts.

"Much had been made of the similarities between Sexton and Owen Farrell beforehand, of the Irishman’s role in the family soap opera. Certainly they both gave the referee Jaco Peyper a constant grilling but the contrast in performances - Farrell excelling despite a bizarre moment when he refused to let go of CJ Stander’s leg - can hardly have been more pronounced."

He added that seeing his replacement Ross Byrne dictating the closing stages was a potential glimpse into the future.

Over on the BBC, columnist Matt Dawson declared "England deserved to beat Ireland by 25-30 points".

He pointed to Ireland's pack for failing to provide for their struggling backs: "Ireland offered very little, relying on slow-moving one-out runners and it is very difficult to kick effectively behind a forward pack that are going nowhere and a scrum-half who seems to have lost the confidence to snipe around the fringes."

Their chief sports writer Tom Fordyce added: These two [Murray and Sexton] have been the foundation for so much of what has been great about Irish rugby across the past decade. How Andy Farrell decides to navigate the next part of their international careers may dictate the long-term success of his time at the wheel."

Cary, meanwhile, also pointed to the continuity evident in Farrell's team selections, posing the questions that need to be answered.

"Was this dire performance just a bad day at the office? A chastening defeat to a pumped-up England team who, lest we forget, were in a World Cup final three months ago? Or was this a sign that Ireland under Farrell are the same old same old."

He concluded: "The question remains: does Farrell stick with the old guard? Or does he wield the axe, build a new team around some of the province’s young blood? One thing is for sure, the honeymoon period is over."

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