Ireland’s first nations’ cup appearance of the year culminated in a sixth place finish in Al Ain, UAE today, just a day before a second Irish quartet do battle in Ocala, Florida.

Cameron Hanley’s youthful side were lying fifth on twelve faults at halfway in today’s five-star contest, and while they improved their combined score in the second round, they dropped a notch to finish sixth in a contest won by holders France.

It was almost a perfect start for Hanley’s team, with pathfinder Michael Duffy and Belcanto Z just failing to deliver a clear round when having the last fence down for a four fault total.

David Simpson and Chessy followed with eight faults before Paul Kennedy and Cartown Danger Mouse gave hopes a big boost when serving up a clear round.

Anchorman Anthony Condon, who went double-clear in this event last year on Aristio, picked up 12 faults on Balzac for the discard score, leaving Ireland in a share of fifth place at halfway on twelve faults.

Duffy began the second round for Ireland in the best possible fashion with a clear, and was followed by Simpson who had just four faults this time for a toe in the water.

Kennedy then went in search of a second clear but was denied by four faults, and Condon finished the Irish challenge with a nine-fault round for the second discard score.

The final tally for Ireland was twenty faults with France winning on four faults, followed by Qatar on eight and Italy with twelve.

For tomorrow’s four-star competition in Florida, Ireland has been drawn first of seven nations to jump and will be the only country from Europe to compete.

Michael Blake takes charge of the team, which consists of  Shane Sweetnam (Chaqui Z), Kevin Babington (Shorapur), Richie Moloney (Carrabis Z) and Cian O’Connor (Seringat).

Josh Tobin

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