Sunday 17 December 2017

Ireland duo Peter O'Mahony and Paul O'Connell set to miss rest of World Cup

Ireland back row Peter O'Mahony has been ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with a knee ligament injury, team manager Mick Kearney has said
Ireland back row Peter O'Mahony has been ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with a knee ligament injury, team manager Mick Kearney has said

Ireland will lose twin enforcers Peter O'Mahony and Paul O'Connell from their World Cup campaign before Monday is out.

The staggering collateral damage from Sunday's superlative 24-9 victory over France could see as many as three fresh faces join Ireland's World Cup squad as injury replacements.

O'Mahony was due to fly home to Cork on Monday afternoon after suffering knee ligament damage, while O'Connell was awaiting merely the formalities of confirmation both his tournament and Test career were over.

Ireland captain O'Connell spent Sunday night in hospital with a "significant hamstring injury", with full-back Rob Kearney branding his impending departure a "monumental loss".

"Paul O'Connell appears to have suffered a significant hamstring injury and was hospitalised overnight. He's having scans later today to clarify the extent of the injury," team manager Mick Kearney said on Monday.

Paul O'Connell was stretchered off against France
Paul O'Connell was stretchered off against France

"Peter O'Mahony has suffered a knee ligament injury and is returning to Dublin today for specialist opinion and will take no further part in the tournament.

"Johnny Sexton suffered a groin injury, initial clinical assessment is encouraging and we await scanning later today.

"After an incredibly physical encounter a host of players are reporting bumps and soreness and will have to be managed, but nothing more serious than that.

"As soon as we have more clarity on the injury front we will be in a position to make decisions on replacement players.

"At the moment, definitively, only Peter O'Mahony has been ruled out.

"Paul was in hospital overnight and he was obviously very sore.

"In relation to Jared Payne's replacement, that's similar too.

"I'd be pretty sure that a decision would be made later today.

"The coaches did meet this morning and discuss a number of different options."

Ireland could also receive further bad news ahead of their quarter-final with Argentina in Cardiff on Sunday.

Flanker Sean O'Brien is expected to be cited for an apparent punch to the ribs on France lock Pascal Pape, and could therefore miss the last-eight Pumas battle.

Ireland are yet to name a replacement for centre Jared Payne, and will now need to seek reinforcements for both O'Mahony and O'Connell.

Andrew Trimble is in the frame to slot in for Payne, ruled out with a fractured foot, while Rhys Ruddock and Dan Tuohy could be lined up to ease the two big losses to Ireland's pack.

O'Connell's Test career appears to be at an end after 108 caps.

The 35-year-old was due to retire from the Test arena at the end of the competition, but the severity of his injury will surely accelerate that process.

The Toulon-bound second row beat the Millennium Stadium turf in anguish and anger after suffering his injury, before being carried off on a stretcher at half-time during Sunday's France clash.

Full-back Rob Kearney accepted O'Connell's World Cup was effectively at an end, admitting Ireland will suffer in his absence.

"There's not much I can say here now in the next 30 seconds that can give testament to his contribution to Irish rugby and this World Cup," Rob Kearney said.

"Of course if he is ruled out it's going to be a monumental loss to us.

"The form he's in is superb. He looks as though he's really enjoying his rugby too, and you always say when guys look like they're really enjoying what they're doing that's generally when they get the best out of themselves.

"If it is the case it would be massively gutting and disappointing, and we'd have lost one of our key players.

"But we've got to get on with it as quickly as we can, and I don't mean that in a bad way. It's just the nature of things."

Kearney hailed O'Connell for "beaming ear to ear" at Ireland's victory, despite fearing the worst on a personal front.

"I suppose the fact that he's been around more than any of us at World Cups, it is difficult for him," Kearney said, accepting O'Connell's fate.

"We felt awful for him, but I think it was great to see the sheer delight on his face after the game in terms of what we'd achieved as opposed to feeling sorry for himself.

"That was brilliant to see and a great sign of the man that he was able to put his own woes behind him and think of the team's achievement first.

"He was just delighted. He was beaming from ear to ear. When you consider that he was so happy and ecstatic after the game given the pain he was in at half-time, it's small little moments like that that make changing rooms after games really special.

"I think at half-time it was mixed emotions, seeing your captain injured heavily and losing your out-half and star man.

"But then you're filled with the huge amount of confidence as well to see Ian Madigan and Iain Henderson come on and their influence has a huge amount of impact on the outcome for us."

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