Ireland call up O'Mahony

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The Independent Online
The battering he took a fortnight ago from the fearsome All Black Jonah Lomu finally caught up with Ireland's Lions wing Richard Wallace yesterday when he was dropped from the team for tomorrow's World Cup quarter-final against France in Durban, writes Steve Bale in Johannesburg.

After his misadventure against Lomu, Wallace struggled against Japan and Wales and has now been displaced by the unheralded Darragh O'Mahony, a 22-year-old Dublin economics graduate who was capped in last month's defeat by Italy and looked as if he would go through this tournament without playing.

Had Ireland not knocked out Wales that would have been the case, since the Irish stuck with Wallace throughout the pool matches. "It's always difficult to leave a player out but Richard has been suffering from a little bit of a lack of confidence and we felt he had not been playing to his true ability," Noel Murphy, the manager, said.

O'Mahony accepts that he has won his place primarily on defensive grounds, but then Ireland have scarcely bothered about exploiting their wings offensively, so he can expect to be busier as a tackler than as a handler. "I'm quite surprised at being chosen," he said. "I thought I might have had a game against Japan and when that didn't happen I knew there was a good chance I'd be going home without a game."

O'Mahony aside, the Irish felt no need for change after disposing of Wales in the critical match that gained them second place in Group C behind New Zealand. Eric Elwood's place at outside-half was under some pressure from Paul Burke but Murphy insisted this had not been the subject of selectorial discussion.

Western Samoa will leave their long-standing captain, Peter Fatialofa, on the replacement's bench for the third time when they play South Africa, in Johannesburg tomorrow.

IRELAND (v France, Durban, tomorrow): C O'Shea (Lansdowne); D O'Mahony, B Mullin (Blackrock College), J Bell (Ballymena), S Geoghegan (Bath); E Elwood (Lansdowne), N Hogan (Terenure College); N Popplewell (Wasps), T Kingston (Dolphin, capt), G Halpin (London Irish), G Fulcher (Constitution), N Francis (Old Belvedere), D Corkery (Constitution), P Johns (Dungannon), D McBride (Malone). Replacements: P Danaher (Garryowen), P Burke, M Bradley (Constitution), P Wallace, S Byrne (Blackrock College), E Halvey (Shannon).

WESTERN SAMOA (v South Africa, Johannesburg, tomorrow): M Umaga (Wellington); B Lima (Marist), T Vaega (Moata'a), T Fa'amasino (Marist), G Harder (Te Atatu); F Sini (Marist), T Nu'ualiitia (Auckland); M Mika (Otago), T Leiasamaivao (Moata'a), G Latu (Vaimoso), L Falaniko (Marist), S Lemamea (STOPA), S Tatupu (Auckland), J Paramore (Manurewa), P Lam (Auckland, capt).