Ireland left counting the cost of a bruising loss in Cardiff

Bowe was injured within seconds of his introduction during the 22-9 loss
Bowe was injured within seconds of his introduction during the 22-9 loss

Ireland's hopes of a third Six Nations title in four years were effectively ended by Friday's defeat to Wales.

Joe Schmidt was left to count the cost of his side's failure to convert their chances and he could face a selection headache ahead of the final round.

The Ireland head coach is waiting for an update on the fitness of several key players before the visit of England.

Conor Murray, Johnny Sexton and Tommy Bowe were among the players who needed treatment in Cardiff.

Murray is the most pressing concern for the Irish coaching team after the scrum-half suffered a shoulder injury while attempting to tackle Welsh try scorer George North in the first half.

The Munster man, who has started the last 18 games for Ireland, played on after receiving treatment but he was replaced in the 45th minute by Kieran Marmion.

"The shoulder was getting better all the time and through the half-time period, it improved sufficiently that he felt it was ok to go," said Schmidt of Murray.

"He felt that he probably could have played on but we felt that, seeing how sharp his pass normally is, it wasn't as good as it normally is."

Sexton was taken off for a Head Injury Assessment shortly before North scored the opening try of the game but returned after clearing the medical tests.

The fly-half was permanently replaced by Paddy Jackson in the final minutes at the Principality Stadium and he was nursing a badly swollen eye after the game.

Fly-half Johnny Sexton was among the players who needed treatment during the game
Fly-half Johnny Sexton was among the players who needed treatment during the game

Bowe was introduced off the bench in the 79th minute but the Ulster winger was injured just seconds later.

The 33-year-old appeared to suffer an injury to his left ankle and had to be helped off the field by the Irish medical staff.

Schmidt revealed that Bowe was sent for an x-ray immediately after the game and the IRFU say it will be Monday before they have a clear idea of the extent of the injury.

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