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Sun 24 Feb 2008 08:11 AM

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O'Sullivan ready for Wales

Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan has warned Wales they won't have it all their own way when they travel to Dublin.

Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan has warned Wales they won't have it all their own way when they travel to Dublin for what threatens to be a highly-charged Six Nations encounter.

Wales, the only unbeaten team in this season's tournament, will continue their quest for a second Grand Slam in three years against an Ireland side that convincingly saw off Scotland 34-13 here at Croke Park.

The March 8 match has been given added spice by the fact that former Ireland coach Warren Gatland is now in charge of Wales.

O'Sullivan, previously Gatland's deputy, was accused by some within Irish rugby of helping manoeuvre the New Zealander out of his job before taking over in November 2001.

Former Wasps and Waikato boss Gatland's first three games in charge of his latest adopted country have yielded a first Wales win at England's Twickenham home in 20 years, a 30-15 success against Scotland in Cardiff and a 47-8 Millennium Stadium mauling of Italy completed shortly before Ireland kicked-off against the Scots.Ireland may have lost in the second round to France, having beaten Italy first time out, but they still have a chance of winning their first Championship since 1985.

"Wales are coming to town and they are on a roll at the moment," said O'Sullivan. "They've won three out of three. We are building a bit of momentum ourselves although we've won two out of three."

"I suppose, inveitably all you guys (the media) will be happy to talk about the fact that Warren is coaching Wales and I'm coaching Ireland. I'm sure I'll be asked about that in the next few weeks."

"Warren's got Wales on the right foot. They are going forward. We saw Wales in 2005 get that sort of a start in the Championship, their confidence was up and they really were a handful."

"We lost a Triple Crown in Cardiff to them and they went on to win a Grand Slam that year and deservedly so. Now we've seen the same sort of pep in their step, the same confidence and Warren has induced that very quickly."

"But they've got to come to Dublin. This is our backyard and we are not going to give up anything very easily. It's all to play for now for us." Ireland, who prevented Scotland from scoring in a first quarter where the visitors dominated territory and possession, saw David Wallace, Robert Kearney, Marcus Horan and Tommy Bowe, who crossed twice, all score tries.Dropped from the matchday 22 after a poor defensive display on the wing during the 26-21 defeat away to France, Geordan Murphy only returned in his favoured full-back position when regular No 15 Girvan Dempsey was ruled out on Friday with a hip injury.

Although he didn't get a try of his own Murphy, who attacked the high ball with relish and kicked astutely, had a hand in several of Ireland's scores with some fine breaks and well-timed passes.

"It was a tough week for Geordan to lose out on the 22," said O'Sullivan, who dropped Murphy controversially during the World Cup for the pool match with France after the Leicester star had only played a couple of minutes prior to the game."

"It surely is a knock to any player's confidence but what the coach wants to see is how a player responds. He had an opportunity and he took it magnificently."

Ireland, as their coach admitted, still have aspects of their game that need attention, notably the lineout where Scotland second-rows Scott MacLeod and Nathan Hines both won ball off home hooker Bernard Jackman's throw.

However, O'Sullivan's overall outlook was one of justifiable optimism. "Five tries in a Six Nations match, you've got to be upbeat about that."

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