On this day in 2008: Declan Kidney appointed Ireland coach

Declan Kidney had big boots to fill when he replaced the departing Eddie O’Sullivan as Ireland rugby union coach on this day in 2008.

But Kidney, who had led Munster to two Heineken Cup triumphs, made a stunning start to his reign which would last five years and encompass some of Ireland’s biggest modern highs and lows. The PA News Agency investigates.

Stunning start

Rugby Union – RBS Six Nations Championship 2009 – Wales v Ireland – Millennium Stadium
Brian O’Driscoll celebrated Ireland’s first Grand Slam in 61 years (David Jones/PA)

Kidney made a remarkable start as Ireland coach as he led the nation to their first Six Nations Grand Slam in 61 years. In a thrilling finale, Ronan O’Gara scored a nerveless drop goal to put his side within touching distance of victory, and a short Stephen Jones penalty ensured the celebrations could begin.

World Cup heroes

Rugby Union – IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 – Pool C – Australia v Ireland – Eden Park
Ireland celebrated a famous World Cup win over Australia (David Davies/PA)

Ireland’s sluggish start to the 2011 World Cup suggested they would face a routine defeat against Australia in their group stage clash. But Kidney’s men rose to the occasion, grabbing a 15-6 win at Eden Park with two penalties apiece for Jonny Sexton and O’Gara.

Agony against All Blacks

Dan Carter
Dan Carter broke Irish rugby hearts in 2012 (David Davies/PA)

The inconsistency which would come to hamper Kidney’s reign was encapsulated by their series whitewash in New Zealand the following year. But for a late drop goal by Dan Carter, Ireland could have been celebrating their first win in Christchurch in the second Test. But just one week later they were dealt their heaviest ever international defeat in a 60-0 rout by the All Blacks.

Azzurri embarrassment

Italy
An embarrassing Six Nations defeat to Italy sealed Declan Kidney’s fate (Niall Carson/PA)

Kidney’s reign hit an all-time low in the 2013 Six Nations after a 22-15 defeat to Italy, which underscored Ireland’s worst performance in the tournament. It proved to be Kidney’s last game in charge as he was dismissed almost three months before his contract had been due to expire.

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