Sport Rugby

Saturday 29 April 2017

Doyle targets fast start

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

AFTER a season of huge transition, Ireland come into this year's Women's Six Nations looking for big improvements.

Coach Philip Doyle has added experience to his back-room team, with former international prop Justin Fitzpatrick involved with the forwards and Greg Williams helping with the skill set.

Although the changes aren't as extensive as last year's post-World Cup season, there are new faces in the team, with Belfast Harlequins pair Nikki Cawley and Ashley Baxter joining Tralee's Siobhan Fleming in the match-day 22.

Experience is provided by the likes of Niamh Briggs, Lynne Cantwell and captain Fiona Coghlan against a Welsh team that triumphed the last time the sides met.

Ireland have had a long lay-off since their last outing in the 2011 competition and Doyle will be hoping they can gel quickly at their familiar Meath venue (7.30).

"We love playing in Ashbourne. The pitch is excellent and the community around there really gets behind us," he said. "We have a good enough record there, so three home matches for us is something to really look forward to."

Getting off to a good start will be key and with away matches in France and England to come, Ireland could do with an opening victory. However, Wales might just have the edge.

Verdict: Wales

IRELAND -- A Baxter (Ulster); N Kavanagh (Munster), N Briggs (Munster), G Davitt (Ulster), A Miller (Connacht); L Cantwell (Exiles), Amy Davis (Leinster); F Coghlan (Leinster, Capt), G Bourke (Munster), A Egan (Leinster); ML Reilly (Leinster), S Spence (Exile); L Guest (Munster), C Molloy (Exile), J Neville (Munster). Replacements: P Fitzpatrick (Leinster), R O'Reilly (Connacht), S Fleming (Munster), H O'Brien (Munster), L Muldoon (Ulster), N Caughey (Ulster).

Irish Independent

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