independent

Sunday 24 February 2019

Lucy does us proud

Mulhall leads Ireland to first World Series semi-final

Lucy Mulhall, who captained the Ireland Sevens to a World Series semi-final for the first time
Lucy Mulhall, who captained the Ireland Sevens to a World Series semi-final for the first time

Brendan Furlong

Lucy Mulhall has made the people of Tinahely and Rathdrum RFC proud by captaining Ireland Women's Sevens team to a first ever World Series semi-final in Sydney.

Their dream ended in semi-final defeat as they were beaten by defending champions and hosts Australia.

Anthony Eddy's side had made history by reaching a maiden semi-final thanks to a 22-7 victory over Spain. However, their hopes of going one better and securing an improbable final appearance were ended in the last four, as they went down 24-12 at Spotless Stadium.

Three tries saw Australia race into a 19-0 interval lead before Ireland fought back after the interval, with a brace of scores from the excellent Amee-Leigh Murphy-Crowe putting her side on the comeback trail. But it wasn't to be, with Ella Green securing her hat-trick and Australia's place in the final.

Ireland then went into the bronze medal match against the USA, and again found themselves 19-0 down at half-time. They rallied with tries from Murphy-Crowe and Eve Higgins but were ultimately beaten 26-10. It was New Zealand who took the Gold with a 34-10 final victory over the hosts.

Earlier Ireland guaranteed themselves a quarter-final place with a 22-7 victory over Spain, with Mulhall showing her kicking potential with some excellent efforts. At the end of the series Ireland finished as the top ranked European side in the competition.

For Irish skipper Mulhall it was a dream realised to captain her country in a World Series. When she won an All-Ireland junior football medal with Wicklow in 2011, she thought she had reached the pinnacle of her career. Growing up the goal was just to play in Croke Park, never mind score in an All-Ireland final victory.

Captaining Ireland at a World Cup would never have come into Mulhall's thoughts, yet some years late she achieved that goal in the World Series Sevens in Sydney, where she became part of history by leading her country into a first ever semi-final in this competition.

It has been quite a journey for Mulhall. Leaving the G.A.A. behind wasn't an easy decision, especially because her family are steeped in the running of their local club, Tinahely. Having captained Wicklow at inter-county level, Lucy has experience of leading teams, so it came as no surprise, having learned her rugby with Rathdrum RFC, she matured into a leader of club, county and country.

Playing on the biggest stage, Lucy and her playing colleagues grasped the opportunity to enhance the growing reputation of Women's Rugby in this country. Their latest escapade has brought a real buzz to the game around the country, and they will now look to propel themselves further up the World ladder.

Bray People

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