Saturday 25 November 2017

Tierney backs Ireland women to cope with 'new pressure'

Ireland women's coach Tom Tierney (SPORTSFILE)
Ireland women's coach Tom Tierney (SPORTSFILE)
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Ireland begin the defence of their Women's Six Nations title in Donnybrook tomorrow (1.00pm) as they take the latest significant step in their development.

For years Ireland played their home games in Ashbourne, and although the Meath venue served a purpose for a time, floodlight failure in last year's meeting with France was the final straw.

Fast-forward 12 months and Ireland will play in the modern Dublin 4 venue. In truth it's been a long time coming for Ireland and although coach Tom Tierney has certainly welcomed the move, he is fully aware that being given the bigger platform means that there is a new kind of pressure on his players.

"It's something that we're looking for," the former Ireland scrum-half said.

"The fact that we're looking for it and getting it means that there's always something that will come with it, and that's the extra pressure.

Embrace

"It's something that we've spoken about and we've tried to embrace it. The fact that we're reigning champions, we're trying to grow the game and now it's our turn to put in a performance and a style of rugby that will pay off.

"It will show people that these girls are serious and they know how to play. That's the pressure that we're looking for and that's the pressure that we have to handle. It's a challenge."

Tierney has included three uncapped players in his squad to play Wales tomorrow as winger Elise O'Byrne-White and hooker Zoe Grattage make their international debuts, with Ciara Griffin hoping to do the same from the bench.

Ireland are without their Sevens players such as Jenny Murphy and Alison Miller but Tierney hasn't ruled them out playing some part in the Six Nations campaign.

"Absolutely. It's a huge possibility. They'll miss the first two games. We knew that from the outset and then it will purely be down to injuries and form, which is the beauty of having both forms of the game under one umbrella," Tierney added.

Ireland women (v Wales) - N Briggs (capt); E O'Byrne-White, A Donnelly, S Naoupu, M Coyne; N Caughey, L Muldoon; A Egan, Z Grattage, R O'Reilly; S Spence, M-L Reilly; P Fitzpatrick, C Molloy, H O'Brien. Reps: C Moloney, L Peat, F Reidy, C Cooney, C Griffin, M Healy, N Stapleton, J Shiels.

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