Tom Tierney steps down as Irish misery continues to the end
Tom Tierney confirmed the inevitable after the conclusion of Ireland’s disastrous home World Cup, and stepped down as head coach of the women’s team after three years in charge.
A stressful tournament during which his team won two games unconvincingly against Australia and Japan, followed by three defeats in a row to France, Australia and Wales, condemned the host nation to a lowly eighth-placed finish out of 12 — something that would have been unthinkable three weeks ago.
“That was my last game in charge, yes,” confirmed Tierney. “I’m very proud of the job that I’ve done. Obviously, it hasn’t ended the way we’d have liked, but I’m very proud of the girls who have come through in my time.”
Tierney refused to comment on speculation he may be taking up a post with the Ireland U19s side, but hinted he knows exactly what the future holds. “I do yeah. It’s just a private thing at the moment, but no, I won’t be under pressure.”
A newspaper interview yesterday by injured player Ruth O’Reilly, who only left the squad last week, suggested Tierney had lost the dressing-room some time ago.
“My reaction is that I’m disappointed someone like Ruth, who is a valued member of the squad, would have done that. I suppose the timing was not great for the girls because we were trying to win an important game at the World Cup.
“But it is what it is, I’ll go home, I’ll see my two little girls, which is very important, and then once the emotion and exhaustion of it settles down, we’ll review where we went right, where we went wrong. Emotions are high. The tournament is just over.”
Ireland were hoping to at least emulate the semi-final appearance they achieved at the last World Cup, but losing to the Welsh denied them an automatic place at the next tournament in 2021. Ireland will now have to qualify to be here next time.
They’d started poorly in all their games in this tournament, but got a great start at Kingspan Stadium yesterday, a driving maul setting up Paula Fitzpatrick for an easy finish after 12 minutes. However, Wales scored the next 22 points unanswered, leading 10-7 at half time after Carly Thomas’ try followed by third-quarter tries by Sioned Harries and Carys Phillips.
It appeared that, mentally, Ireland had checked out of this World Cup a long time ago, but the determination of Lindsay Peat to crash over briefly gave them hope, to reduce the deficit to 22-12 after 64 minutes. But it was more perspiration than inspiration from Ireland, who played mostly through the forwards instead of moving the ball wide to an under-used back-line.
When they did, they looked dangerous, and Katie Fitzhenry’s late try was the only effort scored by the backs on either side in a what was a dour struggle.
A late Eimear Considine try was messed up and ruled out for a forward pass. With numbers out wide, three players could have scored, but no one wanted to take responsibility. If Ireland aren’t to fall further behind the elite teams, someone will have to soon.
Scorers — Ireland: Tries: P Fitzpatrick, L Peat, K Fitzhenry; Con: N Stapleton. Wales: Tries: C Thomas, C Phillips, S Harries, S Powell-Hughes; Pen: R Wilkins; Cons: R Wilkins (2).
Ireland: H Tyrrell; E Considine, K Fitzhenry, J Deacon, A Miller; N Stapleton (S Naoupu 54), N Cronin (L Muldoon 54); L Peat, C Moloney, A Egan (C O’Connor 23 (L Lyons 56)); C Cooney (S Spence 47), ML Reilly; P Fitzpatrick, C Griffin (I Van Staden 71), H O’Brien (A Baxter 54). Replacements not used: M Coyne.
Wales: E Snowsill; J Joyce, G Rowland (I Berbillion 80), H Jones, E Evans; R Wilkins, K Bevan; C Thomas, C Phillips, A Evans; S Lillicrap (S Powell-Hughes 65), M Clay; A Butchers (C Hale 62), R Taylor, S Harries. Replacements not used: K Jones, G Pyrs, L George, S Moore, J Evans.
Referee: Claire Hodnett (England).