Ireland made history in the Women's RBS Six Nations at Ashbourne RFC on Saturday afternoon as a hat-trick of tries from Connacht's Alison Miller gave Philip Doyle's side their first victory against England in what was the 18th outing between the two nations.
With a 76-0 demolition of Scotland already under their belts, the four-in-a-row-chasing Grand Slam champions were red-hot favourites heading into this tie, but with Ireland eager to make an impression in their first home game of 2013, they took a surprise early lead seven minutes in when excellent approach play by Niamh Briggs put the pacy Miller through in the left corner.
Full-back Briggs was narrowly wide of the mark with the conversion that followed but she made no mistake with a 16th-minute penalty, and though England occasionally threatened to cut loose in the manner that was expected, further five-pointers from Miller in the 25th and 35th minutes (the latter brilliantly converted on the left-hand touchline by Briggs) ensured that Ireland held an astonishing 20-0 cushion at the midway point.
The home team carried their extraordinary momentum into the second period, and UL's Briggs broke majestically from the right wing to grab their fourth try of the game just four minutes after the restart.
This helped to place the result beyond any doubt, and though the Irish performance was less spectacular for the remainder of the action, they continued to control the tempo of the play, and with each substitution being met by rapturous applause, the 'Green Army' eased towards a victory that raises hopes of Triple Crown and Grand Slam glory.
IRELAND – N Briggs; A Baxter (N Kavanagh 66), L Cantwell, J Murphy (G Devitt 70), A Miller; N Stapleton, L Muldoon (A Davis 65); F Coghlan (F Hayes 73), G Bourke (S-L Kennedy 65), A Egan (L Day 73); S Spence (L Dargan 73), ML Reilly; S Fleming, C Molloy (L Guest 75), J Neville.
ENGLAND – K Wilson (L Cattell 48); F Matthews (F Pocock 59), A Chamberlain, A Reed, S Tuson; C Large, LT Mason (G Gulliver 69); R Clark, V Fleetwood (E Croker 54), S Hemming (L Keates 54); R Burnfield (R Essex 48), T Taylor; J McGilchrist (R Crowley 44-52, H Millar-Mills 54), H Gallagher, S Hunter.
REF – A Spadoni (Italy)