Saturday 17 March 2018

Enjoyment returns for Molloy after Cup agony

Claire Molloy of Ireland scores her side's fifth try during the Women's Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and Wales in February. Photo: Sportsfile
Claire Molloy of Ireland scores her side's fifth try during the Women's Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and Wales in February. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Captaining Ireland at a home World Cup was supposed to have been the culmination of everything Claire Molloy had dreamt of in a green jersey, but it quickly descended into a nightmare.

Seven months on, the dust has settled, and two wins on the bounce have helped push it to the back burner, but the disappointment still lingers.

With Niamh Briggs sidelined last year, Molloy took on the captaincy, yet that has changed again since Adam Griggs took over and chose Ciara Griffin as skipper.

Molloy has been around the block, but she is still only 29 as she reminds us. Given that she works as a doctor in Cardiff, walking away after the World Cup would have been the easy way out, but not when there is unfinished business.

"I suppose you don't want to finish on that note," Molloy admits. "I think that was the biggest thing. Also, I was younger than a lot of the players who retired so it was: 'Do I continue on for just a year or do I look at the cycle?'

"But you never make decisions immediately post-World Cup, not for the first two months. I don't think anyone should make any decisions about anything because of post-tournament blues.

"I just thought if I enjoy my club rugby and then get back in, play a Six Nations and then see how we go. As long as I'm enjoying my rugby and I'm playing okay and they pick me, I'll keep playing.

"Look, it's a huge honour to captain your country in any shape or form. The outcome of the tournament wasn't what any captain would ever want so I think that will always be a disappointment.

"You look back and wonder is there anything I could have done differently or changed it? And you can't. It's gone now. It's out of my control.

"Yes, of course it was a disappointing tournament and for me, personally, just looking at it - that was my third World Cup - and having told the girls: Listen, this is the best thing you're ever going to do, and then to have that result at the end, that was the hardest bit.

"But it's been nice to come back in and build and play nicer rugby which we have been doing for the last three games, just executing and scoring nice tries. I don't think our backs have scored tries like that in quite a while and last weekend was pretty good."

In the impressive win over Wales a fortnight ago, the shackles were off and the players thrived. They will be expected to build on that against a winless Scottish side at Donnybrook this afternoon (1.0).

"When you know that you're not executing the skill level that you have and to go from a Grand Slam/Six Nations-competing team to eighth in the World Cup, it is a bit of a fall-off and I think it's hard to enjoy when you know you haven't performed," Molloy adds.

"I think it's just that we are enjoying it. You don't realise how much you weren't quite enjoying the game and how it was holding you back."

Ireland Women: K Flood; M Williams, F Fitzhenry, S Naoupu, H Tyrrell; N Briggs, A Hughes; L Peat, C Moloney, L Lyons; A McDermott, O Fitzsimons; C Griffin, (capt), C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick. Reps: C O'Connor, L Feely, F Reidy, A Baxter, E McMahon, N Cronin, M Claffey, L Galvin.

Scotland Women: C Rollie; L Musgrove, L Thomson, H Nelson, H Smith; L Martin (capt) S Law; S McMillan, L Skeldon, M Kennedy; E Wassell, D McCormack; S Bonar, R Malcolm, J Konkel. Reps: J Rettie, K Dougan, L Smith, S Cattigan, L McMillan, J Maxwell, L Harris, R Lloyd.

Ireland v Scotland,

RTé 2, 1.0

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