Friday 17 November 2017

Miller and Molloy start as Ireland eye glory

Connacht’s Alison Miller and Claire Molloy both start for Ireland tonight Photo by Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile
Connacht’s Alison Miller and Claire Molloy both start for Ireland tonight Photo by Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile

Seven Connacht players make Ireland Women's squad tonight as they face England in a Grand Slam decider at Donnybrook (8.0).

Flying winger Alison Miller and flanker Claire Molloy both, start with Ciara O'Connor, Ruth O'Reilly, Nichola Fryday, Mary Healy and Mairead Coyne among the replacements.

The side for the Championship decider shows one change to the team that defeated Wales 12-7 last weekend, as scrum-half Larissa Muldoon comes into the starting XV and Healy moves to the bench.

The remainder of the line-up is unchanged as props Lindsay Peat and Ailis Egan join Leah Lyons in the front-row for the fifth successive game. I

In the second-row, Sophie Spence will again partner Marie-Louise Reilly, who is set to win her 50th Ireland cap this evening.

In the back-row, flankers Ciara Griffin and Molloy pack down either side No 8 and captain Paula Fitzpatrick for their sixth consecutive game.

Out-half Nora Stapleton is partnered by Muldoon at half-back and in the centres, Sene Naoupu will again partner Jenny Murphy.

In the back-three, Miller and Hannah Tyrrell line out on the wings, with Kim Flood at full-back.

Head coach Tom Tierney said: "England are arriving to Dublin on the back of a huge win against Scotland so their confidence will be high, and deservedly so.

"They have shown throughout the Championship that they can score tries from anywhere and they have a strong and skilful pack as well.

"From our point of view, we have a huge opportunity on St Patrick's Day and for us it's about looking to rectify some of the areas of our game that we haven't been happy with over the past few weeks, and if we can make those small changes, then this game should be a great one."

Tonight's match is part of a double-header in Donnybrook, as the Ireland U-20s face their English counterparts in the earlier game at 6.0.

Corinthians man Matthew Burke is among the Ireland U-20 replacements with NUIG Connacht academy manager Nigel Carolan the head coach.

After winning their opening three games, the U-20s' saw their Grand Slam hopes undone in Wales last weekend as they lost a thrilling encounter.

Carolan said: "It was disappointing to come back from Wales without the win last weekend, but some things just didn't work out for us on the night."

Irish Independent

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