Tuesday 24 April 2018

Claire Molloy an excellent choice to captain Ireland

New Ireland skipper Claire Molloy. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
New Ireland skipper Claire Molloy. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Every player in the 28-strong Ireland squad has their own story to tell about the sacrifices that have been made in the lead up to the World Cup but few sum up the commitment to the cause more than Claire Molloy.

A doctor based in Wales, the regularity with which she travels to Dublin for training sessions and games, means that the security staff in Cardiff airport recognise her when she arrives straight from a shift whilst still wearing her scrubs.

While her employers have been understanding throughout the whole process, there is no doubt that being named to captain her country at a home World Cup, will go some way to making those countless hours spent in the skies worth it.

Many people in a similar situation would have walked away from the game a long time ago and when you consider that Molloy has been making the monotonous journey since 2013, when Ireland famously won the Grand Slam, it gives you some idea of her dedication to her country.

To add to that, during Ireland's Grand Slam success, Molloy sat her final medical exams and still managed to come out the other side with a winner's medal and, more importantly, the required results to further her career.

Molloy's is a story that may never even have reached this point. After all, this is a Galway woman who grew up dreaming of playing in Croke Park and not Lansdowne Road.

Dream

By 2005 that dream had been lived and although Molloy was powerless to deny her Galway side being beaten in the All-Ireland final by an outstanding Cork outfit, slowly but surely her attentions began to turn to the oval ball.

The tipping point came when she took up the offer of attending Cardiff University to study medicine and as fate would have it, she soon began her rugby journey.

In between playing a key role at the 2010 and 2014 World Cup, she captained Ireland at the 2013 sevens World Cup, so leading her country won't be alien to her. That said, the task facing her in the coming weeks is an altogether tougher one.

With two Six Nations medals (2013 and 2015) in her back pocket, Molloy is a vastly experienced campaigner and given that she is one of the first names on the team sheet, it came as no surprise when the management team turned to her to skipper the side in place of the injured Niamh Briggs.

Molloy is the type of openside flanker players despise playing against - hugely aggressive in defence, she is a groundhog on the deck and regularly spoils opposition ball.

For any close followers of the women's team, there may have been an element of surprise when Paula Fitzpatrick, who skippered Ireland throughout the Six Nations, was overlooked for the role but the powerful No 8 still has a huge role to play both on and off the pitch.

Fortunate

"I'm fortunate that I'll be surrounded by players with great experience, I'm really looking forward to pulling on the green jersey and running out with my teammates," Molloy enthused.

The 29-year old will lead by example and the challenge for the other Irish players is to match the standards that she will demand of them.

Molloy will have learned a lot from previous captains like Briggs and Fiona Coghlan down through the years but she must now put her own stamp on the team.

Selecting her as captain could be just what the doctor ordered.

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