Ireland made history last weekend when they beat the All Blacks 16-6 in Dublin last Saturday.
Ulster winger 22-year-old Jacob Stockdale scored the winning try for Ireland after ending a 113-year battle with the Kiwis. From the outset it was very clear Ireland was up for the challenge and what eighty minutes of action it was. Irish coach Joe Schmidt although happy with result was quick to point out that the World Number One, the All Blacks went into the game after finishing a long season travelling the world however Kiwi coach Steve Hansen simply admitted they were beaten by a better team on the day. Ireland had a fantastic season after winning the Six Nations and the Triple Crowne by beating England at Twickenham on St. Patricks day. They are in a great position for next year’s World Cup in Japan.
In stark contrast Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland football teams managed by Michael and Martin O’Neill have continued with a dismal record in World Friendlies and the inaugural Nations League Cup which could have been their route to qualification for the Euros 2020.
Northern Ireland played four games in League B group 3 and failed to pick up any points after being beaten in all four matches by Austria and Bosnia at home and away. The Republic of Ireland picked up 2 points from 2 draws against the Danes but were thrashed by Wales 4-1 away and beaten at home 1-0. Ireland seam to lack the conviction to attack whereas Northern Ireland seem to have more intent but have been unfortunate in some of their results, most notably their game at home against Austria last Sunday when the visitors scored in the last kick of the game to beat Michael O’Neill side 2-1. Ireland could be in line for a play-off spot as the twenty-four teams assigned to League A and B will most likely make up most of the twenty teams that qualify through the traditional route and play off places are given to the next highest-ranking teams. Ireland are ranked 23rd in the league now which should see them nab one of those play-off spots however Northern Ireland sit at the bottom with little chance of a spot so everything will depend on their performance in the traditional qualifiers next year. Fixtures will be announced in the the draw on the 2nd December in Dublin.