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Denis Leamy
Inpho/Dan Sheridan
Leamy Superb In Ireland Victory
2 February 2007, 5:25 pm
By Pat Geraghty
Gordon D'Arcy was awarded the RBS Six Nations Man of the Match accolade but he must have won it in a photo-finish from Denis Leamy who had a massive influence on the outcome of this opening championship game.
Not that there could be any quibble whatsoever with Wexfordman D'Arcy claiming the award because he was superb throughout. Besides anything else, he was involved twice in the move that ended with Brian O'Driscoll's try and again played a central part in Ronan O'Gara's clinching try.

But the amount of work Leamy got through was phenomenal. He probably stole enough ball to warrant an interview with local police before he leaves the principality tomorrow.

All in all it was a satisfactory opening to the championship. Ronan O'Gara's first half wasn't his best but only as he can, he bounced back in the second half to play a major role in this succcess.

Ireland were gifted the opening try when Stephen Jones had his clearance blocked down by O'Driscoll and Rory Best simply had to pick up and fall over the line for the touchdown.

Wales however reacted positively and the penalties that they scored that pushed them into a 6-5 lead by the close of the opening quarter were no more than their enterprise deserved.

By the time they went 9-5 ahead with another Jones penalty in the 24th minute, Ireland were fortunate just to be nine four adrift and also to still have a full complement of players on the field. Forced to resort to desperate measure to stem the flow of Welsh momentum, Ireland resorted to illegalities that nine times out of ten would have attracted a card of some description.

And then they attracted a slice of luck from a another type of slice. Denis Hickie was forced to retire temporarily with a long cut to his forehead and he was replaced by Geordan Murphy.
O'Gara hammered a clearance long that looked odds-on to stay in-field until it took a strange squirm and went into touch for a five-metre throw.
Wales won this and cleared but only as far as Murphy who launched a massive garryowen. He collected the dropping ball brilliantly and when O'Gara swept in right and wide, D'Arcy threw a long skip pass to O'Driscoll on the touchline. The captain stepped inside a tackle and over the tryline. O'Gara landed a smashing conversion to send Ireland into the interval with a narrow 12-9 lead.

Once again at the start of the second half lady luck (in the guise of the match officials) smiled on Ireland when Chris Czejak looked to be tackled by Simon Easterby as he chased his own chip-head and having survived Easterby's lunge, Czejak then lost control of the ball with the line at is mercy.

Minutes later Donncha O'Callaghan was once again warned by referee Kelvin Deaker for infringing at ruck time and James Hook showed his in-experience by going for a long range drop goal as Wales pressed forward with Ireland clinging on desperately.

Then in the 66rth minute Wales were once again penalised harshly by Deaker. He had just awarded them a short penalty but allowed Ireland charge the kick having deemed that Hook had made a movement that indicated somehow or other that he had attempted to take the kick.
It left Wales pinned in their own half and minutes later O'Gara pounced for the score that sealed the outcome.

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