Friday 15 December 2017

Claire Molloy targets third-place final flourish to ease pain

A tearful Grace Davitt, left, and Claire Molloy, Ireland, after their 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat (Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE)
A tearful Grace Davitt, left, and Claire Molloy, Ireland, after their 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat (Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE)
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

"It's not the final any of us wanted but we're looking at it as a final and that's the way it has to be."

Claire Molloy's assessment of Ireland's situation highlights the pride and resolve in the squad. As she puts it, her and her team-mates have "parked Wednesday's defeat and have moved on".

Easier said than done? Possibly. But when there's a third-place World Cup finish and ranking points up for grabs, you have no choice but to take a leaf out of Molloy's mindset.

"We'll be putting out our strongest team in order to try and get that third-place finish," she says determinedly.

"It's crucial for ranking points for the next World Cup and if we can get that, it would make our lives a lot easier going forward. There is still a lot left to play for."

Molloy has been a regular feature in Ireland's campaign and given that she is only 26, the flanker will continue to be a vital cog in the wheel for many more years to come.

As she acknowledges that it is the end of a journey in many ways, she is slow to look too far ahead into the future as the focus remains on the immediate task at hand.

"France are a hugely physical pack, especially their front five. We're well aware that they're going to try and bully us up front and it's up to us to meet that challenge head on," she says.

"Personally, I need to make my tackles, disrupt their possession and help ensure that the scrum is a big improvement from last day. I think that was our poorest scrum performance in a long time.

"As long as I come off the pitch knowing that my pack and my scrum-half are happy - then I'll be satisfied as well."

From speaking with several members of the Irish set-up throughout the World Cup, it is clear how close a group they are.

Molloy explains how that has helped them collectively overcome the semi-final hurt and in turn, focus on finishing as high as they possibly can.

"There's a really good bunch of girls here and we're all just having the craic together and helping each other get over the defeat. The mood is good," she says. "We're all in the same place mentally over here which helps in coming to terms with what happened.

"We're all good friends so we don't want to see each other as upset as we were on Wednesday. That's what's really driving us on I think."

As Ireland prepare for the final game of what has been a thrilling journey, one last collective effort would go a long way to sealing a third-place finish that would be the country's best ever at a World Cup.

Ireland women v France,

Live, tomorrow, TG4, 4.30

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