Tadhg Beirne went to a phenomenal place to help Ireland seal the series

Tadhg Beirne went to a phenomenal place to help Ireland seal the series

Let’s just remember Tadhg Beirne’s career path.

The final point in his journey was playing from his skin for Ireland as they defeated the All Blacks to secure a series success in New Zealand for the first time ever.

Beirne was a phenomenon in Wellington.

But in 2015, he was delivering pizzas alongside training at Leinster Academy. After being plagued by injuries, he was told there was no senior contract for him. Beirne had to knock on Leo Cullen’s door and ask for another chance.

He was handed a one-year contract but Leinster finally let him go in the summer of 2016. Beirne was strongly considering quitting rugby at this point. So Lansdowne manager Mike Ruddock called and told the Scarlets they needed to sign this somewhat unorthodox but potentially brilliant striker.

There have been more injuries in Wales and Beirne even played once for semi-professional Llandovery RFC in 2016. But he fought his way into Scarlet’s starting XV and helped them to the Pro14 title. Once again his determination was evident.

Tadhg Beirne with Peter O’Mahony.

Credit: Billy Stickland/INPHO

That earned him a move to Munster, and his Ireland debut followed in Australia in 2018. He soon completed a first start in Ireland and a first Six Nations start but failed to make it into Ireland’s first draft team for the 2019 World Cup.

Beirne only achieved test starter status last year. He became a Lion last summer and won two friendlies in South Africa. There have been frustrations for him on this Tour, but Beirne has only continued to improve.

He came into the series against New Zealand as he was desperately short on rugby after suffering a hamstring injury in the Six Nations. The first test was quiet for Beirne by his standards but he improved last weekend and then his third test performance today was great.

The 30-year-old put on great game after great game for Ireland, especially as they held on to their lead in the last quarter.

Beirne was a thorn in the side of the Kiwis from the start, producing that crucial lineout steal in the eighth minute to deny them a chance to hit back after Ireland’s early attempt to maul Beirne had been involved in.

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Beirne, the superb James Ryan and the Irish pack generally dominated the Kiwi forwards in the third Test.

Two maul attempts against the All Blacks in one game don’t come very often, while the Irish pack put tremendous pressure on New Zealand’s shot, with Ryan also producing a lineout steal in the first half.

Beirne wasn’t particularly prominent as a ball carrier for Ireland, but he certainly contributed to their excellent attacking performance.

Watch Beirne’s crucial clearout on Brodie Retallick in the breakdown just before Robbie Henshaw’s try.

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This type of effort from Beirne is crucial to making any attack work, as it removes a major revenue threat to allow Ireland to strike in the very next phase.

The Kiwis had a lucky jump early in the second half when Beirne almost made a big turnover for Ireland.

As we see below, he undresses Ofa Tu’ungafasi in single combat…

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…but the ball bounces up friendly for Beauden Barrett to accelerate into space and the Kiwis eventually score against the brilliant Ardie Savea.

Undeterred, Beirne continued to look for sales opportunities.

With the All Blacks gaining momentum, this was an expertly timed interception.

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After New Zealand closed the goal line to 25-17, we then saw Beirne deliver his first brand breakdown turnover.

Akira Ioane is isolated as he goes to port and Beirne sees his chance.

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Beirne lets Caelan Doris complete the duel, shows that he himself has a clear clearance, then he throws himself over the ball.

There’s a desperate save from Codie Taylor while Beirne remains firmly in position to give Ireland a crucial penalty. Johnny Sexton has a long-range shot on goal but watches as he comes back off the bar.

A minute later, Will Jordan has scored at the other end and the All Blacks are within three points with 20 minutes to go.

Beirne and the Irish pack have the perfect response as they deliver another attempt at a maul, with Rob Herring getting a superb finish as he bounces off a strong platform.

Still, Ireland are fiercely defending their 10-point lead and Beirne comes to the fore.

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The aforementioned turnover comes in the Irish 22 in the 71st minute when Beirne Jackals again pulls a neck roll from Sam Whitelock in the Kiwi-Lock’s desperation to clear him away.

It’s a great moment for Beirne.

The kiwis are still coming and Beirne is still delivering the good.

Check out his sheer work performance below in the 73rd minute as he sprints across the pitch…

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… getting yourself back in position for a massive turnover.

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It’s clean steal for Beirne here, as he assists in tackles and then snaps into jackal position over the ball almost instantly, showing just enough clear clearance for referee Wayne Barnes. Ireland clears its lines again.

And yet there is more to the Kiwi attack.

In the 76th minute, Beirne comes close to another break steal…

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This time it is cleared away.

So Beirne gets back on his feet, assesses the situation, identifies Dane Coles as vulnerable, and absolutely opens him up with a counterstrike.

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Scrum half Folau Fakatava loses the ball as Beirne drives Coles back into him and Ireland lunges to complete the turnover.

Ireland come clean again and that’s it for Beirne.

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He leaves the stage after doing some phenomenal work to help Ireland seal its series success.


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