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John Cooney launches passionate defence of Billy Burns after late error


John Cooney has come to the defence of his Ulster teammate Billy Burns after the fly half scuppered a late opportunity for Ireland to beat Wales.

With Ireland trailing by five points with the clock in the red, Burns had the opportunity to give Ireland a lineout deep in the Welsh 22 but kicked the ball dead past the try line.

While it certainly wasn’t the only moment that cost Ireland the game, it did prevent the visitors from snatching the game right at the death.

The 26-year old has come under some harsh criticism on social media for the poor kick, prompting Cooney to bite back at the fly-half’s critics.

“If you’re the type of person who has to berate another individual in order to feel better about yourself, I feel sorry for you. Think before you write stuff online & look internally first. We are all fallible. It’s the man in the arena!” Cooney wrote on Twitter.

‘It’s not the reason we lost the game’

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell also defended the replacement fly half after the game, telling the Irish Independent that Burns and Peter O’Mahony were not responsible for the loss.

“I haven’t had a chance [to talk to Burns] yet, but I will do. I shook his hand and then I had come to come and talk to you boys. I will speak to him, obviously. It’s not the reason we lost the game. We have all missed touch before.

“I suppose he will be gutted, obviously, because of the magnitude of the last minute and whether we’ve got a chance to win the game at the death there, but he’ll learn from this.

“He [O’Mahony] is gutted as well. Guys don’t do this on purpose, to get sent off and hamper the performance of the team.

“They care about the team and their team-mates deeply so obviously Pete is hurting at this moment in time,” Farrell commented.

Ireland welcome France to the Aviva Stadium in the second round of the Six Nations where they will look to get their championship back on track.

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