Ireland Boss Andy Farrell Explains His Decision To Drop Ulster’s John Cooney

Jason Hennessy

Jason Hennessy

Jason is the editor here at RugbyLAD and a proud Limerick man.
Jason Hennessy

Left out.

When Ireland boss Andy Farrell named his 35-man squad for their remaining Six Nations games against Italy and France last week – there was one glaring omission.

Despite being part of the original Six Nations squad before the break and being named Ulster’s Player of the Year, scrumhalf John Cooney was omitted with Conor Murray, Jamison Gibson-Park and Kieran Marmion named as the three nines in the squad.

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It’s another blow for the former Leinster and Connacht scrumhalf who many feel deserves a spot in the squad having barely got a look in over the last couple of seasons despite his incredible form for Ulster since making the switch up north.

So why did Farrell opt to leave Cooney out of his squad entirely?

The Ireland boss said it wasn’t an easy decision but there were several factors behind the decision.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a new direction [we’re going in]. I think John Cooney is a great player. I think Luke McGrath is a great player as well. And Luke has missed out as well,” Farrell said today.

“I don’t gain any pleasure whatsoever from not picking lads.

“I know that they’re desperate to play for their country and rightfully so.

“But you’ve got to make a call [in terms of] what’s good for the team and you look at all sorts of things regarding selection.

“Obviously form, attitude, what the last seven months have looked like, how they’ve come back etc. And my job is to select a team that keeps everybody on their toes because competition for places has got to be one of the key factors going forward for this team.

“And some people are going to lose out. But I hope that galvanises them and I hope that they come back bigger and stronger and give us a few headaches along the way.”