Hugo Keenan stressed that Ireland have plenty to work on after an underwhelming second half performance on a very successful day in Cardiff.
Three tries in the opening 20 minutes all but ensured that Ireland would come away from Cardiff with a win, although Wales fought back admirably in the second half and dominated proceedings for an extended period of time.
Josh van der Flier scored a try in the final 10 minutes to end the Welsh resistance, although the men in green were second best for much of the second half despite recording a 24-point win.
Speaking to Virgin Media after the game, man of the match Hugo Keenan certainly wasn’t getting carried away with the bonus-point win against Wales.
Hugo Keenan on Ireland’s win against Wales.
“I think we came out and started well, which is really important. We obviously hadn’t won here in a good few years, we knew the crowd would be behind them and it’s always a loud, tough place to go,” Keenan said.
“But being honest, we probably slipped off in that second half so there’s plenty to work on. But we’re delighted to get that bonus-point win to kick off the Six Nations.
“These are the occasions you want to be a part of and playing in the Millennium Stadium for the first time with a full crowd, it’s a serious place to come. Wales put it up to us.
“They’re sort of in that transition phase but they’re a serious side.”
“We hadn’t won here in about 10 years so we were just focusing on that. Focusing on one game at a time, not getting caught up with anything else.”
Hugo Keenan on expectations of this Ireland team after that win in Cardiff. #WALvIRE | #GuinnessSixNations pic.twitter.com/ViqEkW3oVU
— #WALvIRE live on Virgin Media One (@VMSportIE) February 4, 2023
Onwards and upwards for the men in green.
Ireland got off to a perfect start today, although Andy Farrell will be very aware that his team face tougher challenges in the weeks ahead.
The biggest test of all is perhaps next weekend, when France visit Dublin in what could prove to be an early Six Nations decider between the world’s top two ranked teams.
Having not beaten France since 2019, Ireland will be particularly eager to beat Les Bleus with a potential Rugby World Cup encounter between the two sides taking place later this year.
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