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Dublin: 1 °C Sunday 20 April, 2014

Two-try debut is worth the 21-month wait for Dave Kearney

There was an extra reason, or two, for celebrations in the Cooley peninsula last night.

Dave Kearney is congratulated by his brother, Rob, after scoring on his debut.
Dave Kearney is congratulated by his brother, Rob, after scoring on his debut.
Image: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

DAVE KEARNEY HAD an Ireland debut to remember on Saturday and had his older brother to thank for setting up the first of his two tries.

The Leinster winger came off the bench for Tommy Bowe in the second-half of Ireland’s 40-9 triumph over Samoa at Lansdowne Road. With Samoa’s defensive structure fraying at the seams, Kearney took full advantage of the space to dot down twice.

Having made the Ireland bench for a home game against Wales in February 2012, the 24-year-old was forced to wait 21 months before finally taking the field for his country. His first try was touched down in the righthand corner, on 65 minutes, with the final pass arriving courtesy of his brother.

The trick was almost repeated three minutes later but the fullback’s pass was off-target. Speaking post-match, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt praised Kearney for his impact off the bench.

“I thought he could’ve given him a slightly better pass and he might’ve got an extra try,” remarked Schmidt, “but I’m sure they are delighted.”

Acting captain Jamie Heaslip chipped in, “I don’t think he would’ve passed if it wasn’t Dave.”

The coach continued, “I thought [Rob's] pass for the first try; he was really under time, and space, pressure and he put it on a plate for Dave to finish it. Kind of a little bit awkwardly as well, with his left hand down to force it.

For Rob and Dave, that will always be a special moment. They’ve spent a little bit of time working towards that. Two years ago, in the Six Nations [against Wales] it almost happened. It was great that it happened for them tonight.”

Confirmation of Keith Earls’ knee injury last week, added to the loss of Simon Zebo, gave Ireland’s back three options looking stretched. The performances of Fergus McFadden and Dave Kearney will hearten their coach, and Irish supporters, going into a two Test swing with Australia and New Zealand.

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As it happened: Ireland v Samoa, November Tests

GIF: O’Driscoll genius opens up Samoan defence

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