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Page last updated at 12:21 GMT, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Kelly proud of 'fantastic' Irish

Ireland's Sean Gleeson celebrates victory
Ireland now face Fiji next Monday in their semi-final qualifier

Ireland coach Andy Kelly revealed he told his team to ignore the score during Wednesday's superb World Cup victory over Samoa.

Ireland needed to win by six points to reach the semi-final qualifier but triumphed 34-16 to advance.

"We wanted to win by more than six, but knew that the scoreboard would be an enemy if we started concentrating on it during the game," he told BBC Sport.

"The amount of pride I've got is going to bust me up. They were fantastic."

Ireland led 16-12 at half-time thanks to tries by Pat Richards, Simon Finnigan and Sean Gleeson, but the second half belonged to Richards, who scored two further tries and finished with 22 points.

This win is massively important for the game in Ireland

Ireland coach Andy Kelly
Kelly was delighted with his side's response after their 22-20 defeat to Tonga in their opening pool game last week.

"To learn the lessons of the Tonga game and to come out that little bit stronger and a little bit wiser and to apply it on the field was a massive effort from the players," he admitted.

"The atmosphere in the camp has been building steadily over the tournament and I said before the game that if the mood of the players manifested itself into a performance we would win and the guys took it there.

"Both Samoa and Tonga are physical sides and if we hadn't prepared right going into the tournament we could have got steam-rollered but we stood up to it superbly.

"This win is massively important for the game in Ireland. There are a lot of good people working hard over there and the big stage is what they crave.

"The more we do in this competition, the more it will give the game credibility in Ireland."

Ireland will meet Fiji, who finished top of Group Two, on the Gold Coast next Monday (0855 GMT KO), with a place in the semi-finals at stake.

Ireland captain Scott Grix saluted his side's patience and team spirit against Samoa.

"Everyone has written us off since we got here so we hope now that people stand up and look and take notice," he said.

"We knew we had to match the Samoans up front and our forwards were awesome tonight and made the backs job easier.

"We believed in ourselves and we knew if we rode the early storm against Samoa that we would be somewhere near. We are all fit and even when our backs were against the wall, if you pull together there is nothing you can't achieve."

see also
Ireland 34-16 Samoa
05 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Samoa 20-12 Tonga
31 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Kelly takes pride in Irish effort
27 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Tonga 22-20 Ireland
27 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Tonga v Ireland as it happened
27 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Rugby League World Cup 2008 fixtures
08 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Rugby League World Cup history
21 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Rugby League World Cup on the BBC
06 Oct 08 |  Rugby League

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