Injury to magnificent med – Ireland’s best – BOD, POC and the young man Murray.

O’Connell and Murray blows add to Ireland’s woes

Monday, March 05, 2012 – 06:00 PM Irish Examiner

Ireland’s troubled RBS 6 Nations campaign today endured fresh torment
when it was announced that captain Paul O’Connell will play no further
part.

O’Connell will miss the remaining two matches against Scotland and
England after suffering ligament damage to his left knee in
yesterday’s 17-17 draw with France.

The inspirational 32-year-old, who has been in outstanding form,
completed the match in Paris despite his injury and will be out for
between three and four weeks.

And in a sickening double blow, scrum-half Conor Murray will also miss
the rest of the tournament because of a knee injury.

Ireland have now lost two Lions captains in their ill-fated 2012 Six
Nations campaign, with Brian O’Driscoll unavailable after undergoing
shoulder surgery.

Ulster hooker Rory Best is the favourite to lead the Irish against
Scotland at Lansdowne Road on Saturday, with the team named at
Wednesday lunchtime.

“Paul O’Connell underwent a scan on his left knee after twisting it
during the game,” read an Irish Rugby Football Union statement.

“The scan has shown that he has picked up an injury to his medial
collateral ligament. The injury will also rule him out of the next two
games with an expected three- to six-week recovery period.

“Conor Murray was replaced in the 59th minute after falling awkwardly
on his right knee and a scan has revealed bone bruising in the joint.

“But while there has been no significant damage done to his ligaments,
the injury does rule him out of contention for the remaining two games
of the championship with a expected three- to four-week recovery
period.”

Munster scrum-half Tomas O’Leary and Connacht forward Mike McCarthy
have been called up as cover for the injuries.

Donnacha Ryan is in pole position to replace O’Connell at lock while
Eoin Reddan will take Murray’s place.

Losing both players, but especially talismanic 85-cap veteran
O’Connell, is the latest setback to a campaign haunted by misfortune.

On the opening weekend Wales triumphed at Lansdowne Road with a
last-minute penalty that a disciplinary hearing subsequently admitted
had been awarded in error.

Six days later their trip to Paris was rendered a waste of time when
the frozen Stade de France pitch was deemed unplayable – 10 minutes
before kick-off.

Though they subsequently hammered Italy 42-10, frustration levels
continued to rise when the France fixture was rescheduled for
yesterday rather than a day earlier, the option favoured by the Irish
management.

Highly-valued forwards coach Gert Smal was then ruled out for the Six
Nations due to an eye condition that prevented him from performing his
duties.

Upon their return to Paris yesterday, Ireland endured an agonising
draw after leading 17-6 at half-time as they sought only their second
win in the French capital for four decades.

However, events this time were shaped by their own inability to finish
France off rather than a blunder by an official, making the outcome
even harder to accept.