Tuesday 12 December 2017

We feel like we've let people down - Marie Louise Reilly

Louise Reilly: disappointed
Louise Reilly: disappointed
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Picking yourself up after a defeat is never easy, so one can imagine how much more difficult it is to do after a heavy World Cup semi-final defeat.

That's the situation that Ireland find themselves in as they look ahead to Sunday's third-fourth place play-off with France.

Second-row Marie Louise Reilly admitted that it will take some time to get over the loss to England, but insisted that they can't afford to feel sorry themselves.

"Everyone is a little bit quiet today. We know that we didn't perform to our capabilities and that's what hurts the most," she said with the pain still very much evident in her voice.

"It really stings. We feel like we've let a lot of people down but we have to pick ourselves up and go again.

"I think you learn a lot about yourself with defeats like that. It's not a nice situation to be in but it's all about how you bounce back."

Almost 500,000 people tuned in to TG4's television coverage of Wednesday's game, which is a clear indication of how far women's rugby has come in this country.

But such has been the attitude amongst the management and the players throughout the tournament, competing in a play-off was never part of the plan.

"A 3rd/4th place play-off isn't what we were hoping for but we have to be realistic about where we were coming from. To go from a seventh-place finish to this is still a good achievement," Reilly acknowledged.

"It shows the strides that have been made. The coaches have all been incredibly professional with us throughout and it proves what can be done when the correct resources are put in place.

"We have to make sure that we're leaving the jersey in a good place for the next person that comes along."

The squad had the unenviable task of going through the video analysis of the defeat to England yesterday and Reilly said they know exactly where they went wrong.

"The scoreline definitely flattered them. We pride ourselves on our defence and we didn't do enough to stop them," she said. "It really is a bitter defeat and watching it back on the video was very difficult. We gave them the confidence to push on and in fairness to them, they punished us.

"We had a meeting and discussed it but we're trying to focus on the positives. We have a big job to do on Sunday."

Ireland take on France - the host nation - in what will be another huge test of their character, but Reilly is adamant that it is a challenge that they need to help ease the pain of Wednesday's shock result.

With Philip Doyle set to take charge of the team for the final time and several of the players possibly hanging up their boots afterwards, Reilly knows the significance of going out on a winning note.

"To give credit to Philip and the girls that are probably moving on, nothing has been mentioned about that but I know personally that it'll be in the back of my mind," she said.

"For all the time and effort that these people have put into the sport in Ireland and to my own game, it really is important that we go out on Sunday and finish on a high."

A win against France won't right the wrongs of Wednesday but it will go a long way to rebuilding the mental fortitude of those that are left to carry the mantle after a golden generation of Irish women's rugby.

Irish Independent

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