Ireland 23 - 29 Barbarians: Barbarians beat Ireland in Limerick

A MUCH-CHANGED Ireland team produced an improved second-half display but it was not enough to deny the Barbarians a three-try win at Thomond Park.

Efforts from Barbarians captain Xavier Rush, his back-row colleague George Smith and winger Cedric Heymans helped the visitors collect the MasterCard trophy, with Brock James and the retiring Jean-Baptiste Elissalde kicking the rest of their points.

Former Ireland lock Malcolm O'Kelly also bowed out on a high, playing his final professional game at the home of his long-time provincial rivals Munster, who provided Alan Quinlan and Paul Warwick to the Baa Baas side. Ireland, who trailed 21-3 at one stage, fought back either side of half-time with tries from home favourites Niall Ronan and Tony Buckley, and captain Ronan O'Gara's right boot closed the gap to six points.

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Already without Paul O'Connell, Stephen Ferris and a number of other front-line players, a stomach bug forced Shane Horgan out of the starting line-up. David Wallace and Jonathan Sexton, who sustained a knock in the warm-up, were also late withdrawals from the replacements bench.

A final-quarter push produced no reward for the men in green as Philippe Saint-Andre's collection of world stars hung on to take a notable win. For Ireland coach Declan Kidney, there was much to ponder from this performance as his side build for two heavyweight Tests against New Zealand and Australia – the first of which is against the All Blacks in New Plymouth next Saturday.

Helped by an experienced bench, Ireland made life tough for them in the final quarter and powerful prop Buckley fended off three defenders as he bulldozed his way to the try-line after a 60th-minute tap penalty.

O'Gara thumped the touchline conversion over and added a third penalty to get his side in contention for a win that looked well beyond them at one stage. The Irish endeavour will certainly have pleased Kidney, but the lack of a killer finish left the Barbarians to celebrate a maiden Thomond Park win.


Ireland: Tries: Ronan, Buckley. Cons: O'Gara 2. Pens: O'Gara 3. Barbarians: Tries: Rush, G Smith, Heymans. Cons: B James. Pens: B James 3, Elissalde.


Kearney, J Murphy, Duffy, McFadden, Trimble, O'Gara, Stringer, Horan, Cronin, Buckley, O'Donoghue, Tuohy, Muldoon, Ronan, Henry. Subs: Bowe for Kearney (54), D. Wallace for McFadden (40), O'Leary for Stringer (62), Court for Horan (65), Flannery for Cronin (55), M. O'Driscoll for O'Donoghue (55), O'Callaghan for Tuohy (55). Sin Bin: O'Donoghue (35).


P Warwick (Munster); C Heymans (Toulouse), C Laulala (Cardiff Blues), S Rabeni (Leeds Carnegie), D Smith (Hurricanes); B James (Clermont Auvergne), P Mignoni (Toulon); D Barnes (Bath), S Brits (Saracens), C Johnston (Toulouse), J Thion (Biarritz), M O'Kelly (Leinster), A Quinlan (Munster), G Smith (Brumbies), X Rush (Cardiff Blues, captain). Subs: F Estebanez (Brive) for Rabeni (64), J-B Elissalde (Toulouse) for B James (50), B Kelleher (Toulouse) for Mignoni (50), J White (Leicester) for Barnes (46), B August (Biarritz) for Brits (52), R So'oialo (Hurricanes) for O'Kelly (52), M Williams (Cardiff Blues) for Rush (62). Sin Bin: Barnes (36).

Ref: Romain Poite (France). Att: 26,000