Andy Farrell’s tenure as Ireland head coach got off to an underwhelming start after a nervy 19-12 win over Scotland in the Six Nations.
Alan Quinlan was in the OTB AM studio on Monday morning to give his thoughts on the performance and how Ireland can improve for the visit of Wales on Saturday.
Too soon to judge?
After just one game into Andy Farrell’s time in charge of Ireland, Alan Quinlan believes people should hold back on passing judgement after one game.
“It’s hard to judge this team, it’s not fair on the players themselves to judge them after one game.
“Because of the way they’re playing, I think they jumped the gun a little bit on Saturday and tried to do it a little bit too often.
“It could have been a lot better and should have been a lot better but it’s understandable that Scotland really made it frustrating for Ireland and played really well,” the former Munster and Ireland international said.
Irish expectations are something that will have to be managed while this team is in a period of transition, Quinlan explains it's important not to have such high expectations.
“Sometimes I’m guilty of it myself [high expectations], maybe the expectation shouldn’t be as high.
“We base that on the fact that the vast majority of the players are from Leinster and they don’t have these issues in Europe that we seem to have with Ireland.”
Positive signs in defence
Despite a performance that flattered to deceive, Alan Quinlan though there were positives to take from the manner in which Ireland kept Scotland at bay at the end of the game.
“The defence wasn’t perfect, far from it. Particularly early in the game, we were a bit lateral and slow off the line and we soaked a lot of tackles.
“But to hang on and defend the way that they did, they can take something out of that,” he said.
Another aspect of Ireland’s performance that concerned Quinlan was the selection choices facing Farrell in the back three.
Although looking disjointed at points during the game, Quinlan is optimistic that things will improve with time.
“There seemed to be a little bit of a disconnect when they’re hunting together in attack.
“They can get better. Jacob Stockdale showed a few glimpses but some box kicks that were there to be challenged for, he didn’t get through the area.
“There’s a lot of pace there and I think the attack will get better.”
Conor Murray or John Cooney
Perhaps the biggest narrative coming into the game against Scotland was the selection dilemma facing Farrell: Murray or Cooney?
Farrell opted for the tried and trusted in Conor Murray who Alan Quinlan thinks did just enough to keep the number 9 jersey for the visit of Wales.
“I think Murray probably slightly deserves it because we didn’t see enough from John Cooney.
“It was a difficult period for him to come on, Ireland were under the pump at there for a fair bit.
“He was decent but not brilliant but if he comes on and Ireland have line breaks and score a few tries - he’s in there. It just wasn’t that type of ending to the game unfortunately for John and Ireland,” Quinlan explained.