Ireland suffered a setback ahead of their tour Down Under when they lost 29-23 to the Barbarians in Limerick.
The Baa-Baas were worthy winners, having led 21-3 at one stage before an Irish comeback added some respectability to the scoreline. The invitational side scored three tries through Kiwi captain Xavier Rush, ex-Wallabies flanker George Smith and France wing Cedric Heymans. Ireland’s tries went to tighthead prop Tony Buckley and flanker Niall Ronan.
‘It was a tough game,’ said Ireland coach Declan Kidney. ‘I thought the Barbarians would come and entertain but I was wrong. They came here to win. But the senior guys showed their experience when they came on and I was proud at the way we stuck at it.
‘I think the players bought into what we wanted to do even though we only had a short bit of time together. If we can sustain that, and get some more fluidity into our game, then I think we can knock on a few doors. With a bit more time, that can happen.’
However, the match also added to Ireland’s injury woes. Hooker Jerry Flannery left the field with a recurrence of his left calf trouble and has been ruled out of their upcoming tour, while reserve centre Fergus McFadden and wing Shane Horgan are also in doubt.
The Irish will play two Tests against New Zealand and Australia this month, the first of which is against the All Blacks in New Plymouth next Saturday.