There has been precious little luck for the Irish in Rugby World Cup history. Although they have qualified for each of the six tournaments so far, they have yet to make it beyond the quarter-finals - as such, they remain the only one of the old Five Nations to never make it into the last four of a World Cup.
Indeed, until the 2007 World Cup, Ireland has been remarkably consistent (and underwhelming), crashing out of the tournament at the quarter-final stage four times, and in the quarter-final playoff in 1999.
The 2011 tournament offers a great chance for Ireland to break their last-eight hoodoo, as Pool C is one of the kindest of the four groups. And if Brian O’Driscoll’s men find a way to pull off a shock against pool favourites Australia, then a less complicated path to glory lies ahead. But you can’t help but feel that the Irish don’t quite have the strength in depth to trouble the likes of Southern Hemisphere big-hitters New Zealand and South Africa.
Ireland 30-man squad for the 2011 World Cup:
Backs: Isaac Boss (Leinster), Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster), Rob Kearney (Leinster), Keith Earls (Munster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Geordan Murphy (Leicester Tigers), Conor Murray (Munster), Brian O’Driscoll – captain (Leinster), Ronan O’Gara (Munster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster), Paddy Wallace (Ulster)
Forwards: Rory Best (Ulster), Tony Buckley (Sale Sharks), Tom Court (Ulster), Sean Cronin (Leinster), Leo Cullen (Leinster), Stephen Ferris (Ulster), Jerry Flannery (Munster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Denis Leamy (Munster), Sean O’Brien (Leinster), Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster), Paul O’Connell (Munster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), David Wallace (Munster)
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