Rugby Union

Dark clouds have lifted after Ireland's draw with Wales - Conor Murray

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Conor Murray believes injury-hit Ireland have reasserted their RBS 6 Nations title credentials by drawing with Wales.

The scrum-half claimed Ireland's only try as Johnny Sexton's late penalty clinched a 16-16 draw in Dublin on Sunday.

Ireland will next face France in Paris, with Murray insisting Joe Schmidt's side can still fight for an unprecedented third consecutive Six Nations crown.

Ireland's catalogue of injuries stretched to 10 frontline stars for the Wales clash, but the draw left Murray suggesting various gloomy forecasts were misplaced.

"The feeling outside the group has been a bit downcast, with players missing," said Murray.

"That does filter into the camp, whether you stay away from the media or whatever, because your family will read and listen to everything.

"We're a confident group. Yes there's a few changes and people missing, but the lads that have stepped up have been in camp and have been here before.

"They know what to expect of Joe and really, they've gone out and proved that they can play well within the system.

"A new group will always be different, and you'll always wonder how you'll go slightly, no matter how experienced you are.

"But I thought we did quite well there, played well, the lads who haven't been in the team performed well. And we'll look to build on that for next week."

Ireland will sweat on the fitness of Keith Earls, who suffered suspected concussion against Wales, but should be able to call on fit-again Rob Kearney and Sean O'Brien for the trip to Paris.

Murray believes Ireland must now carry a positive outlook into their Stade de France clash this weekend, after battling for the draw in Dublin.

"We can definitely still win the title," said Murray.

"Whatever anyone says about the draw, we're still in the hunt.

"Performance-wise it was a good way to start and I think we can build on that and get better.

"Perhaps there are mixed feelings about the draw, but overall we're probably more happy than anything, and I'm not afraid of saying that.

"I think we played quite well, and I thought we opened really well in the first 30 minutes.

"It was disappointing letting them back in the last 10 minutes before half-time.

"The second half was a little bit more even, we defended well and counter-attacked well too.

"Overall I think we're pleased that we've shown a little bit of what we know we can do, and we've proved it a little bit out there today.

"There's always work to do and I'm sure Joe and the coaches will look at the game tonight, and look to sure up a few of those little areas that weren't quite as tight as they should have been."

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