Published Saturday, 17 November 2012
Ireland wing Craig Gilroy scores a try at Thomond Park in Limerick (© Getty)
The Irish select side scored four tries in each half to snap an international losing streak of five matches.
Fergus McFadden chipped in with two tries and there were strong performances from Sean Cronin, Iain Henderson and Luke Marshall.
But Gilroy was the undoubted man of the match and he topped an excellent outing with an 80-metre breakaway hat-trick try.
"Any chance I get to put on the jersey and play for my country is a big step for me," the 21-year-old said.
"It is something that I have worked towards really hard and I'm glad I took my opportunity tonight."
Gilroy added: "The Ulster lads did well, but I thought the team as a whole were great.
"We've only been together a short while, but we've gelled really quickly and I think that showed."
Ireland coach Declan Kidney said: "There were a lot of young men out there having their first go and I think it would be wrong to single any one player out."
But in stating that it was a good team effort, he added of Gilroy: "Fair play to him, he took his chances when they came his way."
Craig (Gilroy) seemed to enjoy it. I'm sure Fergus (McFadden) will remind him that he was in the scrum that led to one of his tries.
Ireland took an early lead when referee Leighton Hodges penalised the Fijians for going offside.
Paddy Jackson slotted the sixth-minute penalty over.
Three minutes later and the home crowd were celebrating the first try of the night, as Marshall did exceptionally well to draw in two covering defenders before slipping Ulster team-mate Gilroy in for a try in the right-hand corner.
Marshall and Darren Cave were involved in the build-up for a McFadden try that was confirmed by the video referee. Cronin was the next to power over after he was teed up for a charge by Conor Murray.
Fiji were running the ball at every opportunity but getting nowhere. Iain Henderson drove upfield after stealing a line-out throw and Ireland worked their way into the Fijian 22.
Cave evoked memories of injured skipper Brian O'Driscoll on 32 minutes. The outside feigned a pass to Gilroy and jinked inside Leone Nakarawa before riding a challenge and stretching to score a fine try and leave the score at 29-0 at the break.
The scoring continued early in the second half as Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip took a reverse pass from Jackson and drove forward. He held off Malakai Ravulo before flicking a pass out to McFadden, who did enough to touch down for his second try of the night.
Following a lengthy injury break that resulted in John Muldoon being stretchered off, Timoci Matanavou was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tip-tackle on Murray. Chris Henry followed him after 64 minutes as Hodges penalised the flanker for illegally entering a ruck.
The flurry of yellows continued three minutes later when Talemaitoga Tuapati was binned for an extremely late hit on Gilroy.
A game of rugby once again broke out after the disruptions and Jackson did well to ride a tackle and find the charging Simon Zebo. The replacement full-back found Gilroy who dived over in the left corner to make it 41-0.
Gilroy claimed his hat-trick with a stunning break from deep inside his 22 as he evaded Niki Goneva and Matanavou before sprinting free and diving under the posts. Marshall rounded out the scoring on 79 minutes after fine play from Henderson.
Declan Kidney's side face Argentina in the climax to their Guinness Series next Saturday.
"We had good support here tonight and hopefully we'll get it again next week because we are going to need it against a tough Argentinian side," the coach said.
He also confirmed that Jonathan Sexton's late withdrawal from the bench was due to a groin strain, but is hoping that his first choice fly-half will be fit for next weekend's game.
© UTV News