Thursday 14 December 2017

Doyle keeps faith for Italy tie

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

A SLOW start in front of a bumper crowd ultimately cost Ireland a valuable win in France last time out, but head coach Philip Doyle has kept faith with the same match-day 22 for Italy's visit to Ashbourne tonight (7.30).

"We produced a very good performance against France and all the girls played extremely well so we did not see the need to make changes," said Doyle.

"We have trained well and look forward to playing back in front of a home crowd."

Ireland were 8-0 behind at half-time in Pau in front of more than 9,000 supporters and a late Claire Molloy try, converted by Niamh Briggs, wasn't enough as they lost to the French for the second season in succession.

While Doyle talked up the opposition this week, Ireland will be expected to pick up their first win of the campaign after their opening clash with Wales -- now refixed for March 3 (2.30) -- was postponed due to the weather.

Italy shipped 75 points in their matches against France and England and managed just three in reply, while Ireland won this fixture in Rovigo last year on a 26-5 scoreline.

VERDICT: Ireland

IRELAND -- A Baxter (Ulster); N Kavanagh (Munster), N Briggs (Munster), G Davitt (Ulster), A Miller (Connacht); L Cantwell (Exile), A 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). Reps: P Fitzpatrick (Leinster), R O'Reilly (Connacht), S Fleming (Munster), H O'Brien (Munster), L Muldoon (Ulster), N Caughey (Ulster), J Murphy (Exile).

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