Ireland coach Mark Aston labelled his side’s win against France in the Rugby League European Cup as “probably one of the biggest in the history of Irish Rugby League”, after they defeated Richard Agar’s men 22-12.
His side, containing nine debutants and with only three one hour training sessions together, were never behind and willed on by a vociferous home crowd.
And Aston hopes the result will make the relevant people see just how big the international game can be, saying it’s one of his all-time favourite wins.
“I hope the governing bodies will realise how massive the international game can be and now properly support it,” Aston said.
“The win was based around attitude, commitment and heart – Ireland’s call – there were heroes everywhere, I couldn’t be prouder of them, it is one of my all-time favourite victories.”
Aston’s plans were further upset when experienced prop Luke Ambler was forced from the field after only four minutes and was unable to return.
“We got our energy from within,” Aston added. “I said last night in our team meeting that we wanted to earn respect; of each other, our opponents and the Irish fans and we’ve done that.
“Josh Toole was the man of the match but Bob Beswick was outstanding, he was the glue, he is so smart and skilful out of dummy half, one of the very best in the business and set a captain’s lead. He has worked closely with Liam Finn who is assisting me and it showed.”
Aston continued, “Young lads like Robbie Mulhern – who was 20 today – and Joby Murphy just threw themselves into it and were magnificent especially as we had very little rotation and Shannon McDonnell ‘s two tries on debut were vital. But I was equally as please with the two domestic-based lads on the wings. They showed what talent the sport can attract.”