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Monday 18 February 2019

Hurt Healy calls for a spike in Ireland's performance

DYNAMIC: Irish prop Cian Healy at training during the week. Pic: Sportsfile
DYNAMIC: Irish prop Cian Healy at training during the week. Pic: Sportsfile

It is not what Ireland want to do. It is what they have to do to stay in the championship.

This will hinge on how the senior internationals literally take Scotland by the scruff of the neck.

The way England controlled the contact zone was a shot to the solar-plexus and they never really got their second wind.

The losses sting just as much now as they ever have for Cian Healy.

"It's just about building a response to it," issued the prop. "You can't lose and not have a response. It's the making of how we do it.

IN DEMAND: Sean O’Brien. Pic: Sportsfile
IN DEMAND: Sean O’Brien. Pic: Sportsfile

"If you get beaten, you have to have something that you come back with.

"You have to have that performance. You have to have that extra few per cent."

The humbling hurt administered by England will form part of the backlash.

No man can accept being beaten up in his own house.

"You never get past that," he said.

"You're representing a lot of people when you play for Ireland in Ireland and that hurts.

"I'd struggle to sleep after a game, win or lose, so I suppose it's just the thoughts that go through your head a little bit worse when you're staring at the ceiling."

The players have to take control from the first whistle to implement a familiar game plan.

"There's been a lot of player stuff, a lot of players meeting individually and going over roles and making sure everything is bang on.

"That's always happening but I suppose there's been a little bit of a spike in it now.

"There's still the coaches coming in and weighing in with their tuppence.

"They're doing that extra bit of fine-tuning to lead us on the right path, so that we can go off together and chat."

The time for talk is almost over. It is the accuracy of their actions that will decide the issue in Murrayfield.

Scotland's progress under Gregor Townsend makes them far more than a way back to form.

The home nation have their own reasons to further stall Ireland, looking for the kind of growth that would ensure Ireland's slide back to the pack.

The Scots are no longer in the doldrums as fodder for others.

"You assume nothing. That's why people lose games.

"If you assume it's going to happen, it's not," warned Healy.

"You have to work on it and make it happen."

If they do get the better of Scotland, they will do so without the presence of Devin Toner, who is out for the rest of the Six Nations after undergoing ankle surgery for an injury suffered in the 32-20 loss to England.

Meanwhile, Sean O'Brien is primed to leave Leinster for London Irish after this year's World Cup.

The 32-year-old is expected to accept a three-year deal, worth around e1.4m, to link up with former Ireland manager Declan Kidney.

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