A couple of weeks back it was all talk of a Grand Slam and making room in the trophy cabinet, but after two disappointing Six Nations defeats in a row, all of a sudden a wooden spoon is more of a concern. Faster than Keith Earls making a break for the line when he probably should have passed, Ireland’s campaign is in tatters and the pressure in on Declan Kidney like never before.
In the aftermath of the disappointing defeat to Scotland, Twitter, Facebook and places where people actually talk to each other face to face were awash with speculation if it’s about time for a change. Kidney (52) may have delivered Ireland’s first Grand Slam since Gaybo was considered a young whippersnapper, but a disappointing World Cup exit to Wales and some missed opportunities in the Six Nations has ramped up the pressure.
The list of contenders makes appealing reading for fans of the #KindeyOut hashtag. Perhaps most worryingly for the Irish head coach, a lot of them would be seen as attainable in the not too distant future.
Conor O’Shea is the 2/1 favourite to be Next Ireland Head Coach and he’s worthy of his position. His work at Harlequins has been impressive and perhaps more crucially, in his occasional rolen as pundit, he’s got himself into a position where it’s possible to always make it look like you’re right.
Mike Ruddock (10/3) guided Wales to a Grand Slam in 2005 and his current role with the Ireland U20s means he’s already got a foot and several toes in the IRFU door. Leinster head coach, Joe Schmidt (4/1) has amassed two Heineken Cups in his time in Ireland and that sort of success is hard to ignore. His contract with the Blues runs out at the end of the season and although he has spoken about a desire to return home to New Zealand, the lure of a national team position could change his mind.
Some interesting outsiders appear a little further down the list. Brian O’Driscoll will probably get a chance some day, but is it too soon to plump for him at 14/1?. Munster legend, Anthony Foley might be a more tempting option at 16/1 particularly in view of his role within the current set-up. Former Connacht head coaches and international half-back pairing, Eric Elwood and Michael Bradley are 16/1 and 18/1 chances respectively, whilst former Ireland manager, Eddie O’Sullivan is 40/1 to get another chance at underperforming with another talented generation of Ireland players.