Farrell hails 'young bucks' after Ireland dismantle France

Farrell hails 'young bucks' after Ireland dismantle France

There is no doubt Ireland has in recent years produced some of the finest fly-halves and locks in world rugby.

Top Shop Rugby 6 nations France vs Ireland

Johnny Sexton, the playmaking general supreme in green, retired after last year's World Cup after a stellar career that dovetailed that of the equally successful Ronan O'Gara.

The powerhouse of the set-piece has seen the likes of redoubtable Paul O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan stamp their authority over the game.

In that light Ireland coach Andy Farrell was more than happy to bask in the performances of fly-half Jack Crowley and Six Nations debutant Joe McCarthy in the team's 38-17 demolition of France in this season's Six Nations opener in Marseille on Friday.

Crowley stepped into Sexton's boots with aplomb, amassing 13 points, converting all five tries and hitting a penalty.

McCarthy won the man-of-the-match award for his part in a dominant Irish set-piece showing, notably the line-out.

"There's no doubt that a young kid playing in a position like Jack is at ’10’ with the responsibility of that but then obviously all week, and rightly so, everyone was talking about how were we going to deal without having Johnny at the helm, and Jack was going to be the first one to have a shot at filling the shoes," Farrell said.

"It definitely creeps in. You'd be a liar if you said it didn't but he gains his strength from knowing that his teammates are prepared and there to help.

"I thought his composure at the line was great. He made some really nice decisions and some poor ones as well, and he'll know that more than anyone else."

- Strength of character -

Crowley spoiled his copy book with one missed penalty, but Farrell praised him from bouncing back from that.

"The strength of character in regard to his goal-kicking when he missed the one in front, albeit from a longer distance, to then knock two on the trot over from the sideline showed immense character really," he said.

"It's a good start for him, it's a good start for us as a team and hopefully he'll get better and we'll benefit from that as well."

Turning to McCarthy, Ireland skipper Peter O'Mahony said the lock had "some great moments in the game and the moments you need to get rid of, he did that.

"He had a penalty in the second half but he just got on with the game and continued to get better and better.

"That's something we have to hang our hat on at the moment and you saw it from young guys and old guys alike, just playing the game and I thought he was outstanding."

Alongside the outstanding Tadhg Beirne, McCarthy thrived as France failed to fire up front.

"It wasn't just the attacking line-out, it was the defensive line-out," said Farrell.

"If you have a platform like that you can be excited about your attack off the back of it."

Farrell said the essential now was for the Irish team to blend all their many components as they host Italy next week in the second step in the bid for an unprecedented back-to-back Grand Slam title.

"It doesn't matter whether you're Pete (O'Mahony) touching 42, 43," joked Farrell, "or you're young Joe McCarthy who's a young buck trying to make his way.

"Everyone is in the same boat, pulling in the same direction, so it doesn't surprise me that those young guys or the inexperienced guys have performed, because they tend to feel comfortable within their own skin within the environment."


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