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Ireland Fall To Disappointing Defeat To The USA

Ireland Women Sheehan

Ireland – 10

USA – 19

Sean McMahon reports from Donnybrook

Ireland have fallen to a disappointing defeat in their opening November international against the USA at Donnybrook this afternoon.

The result will no doubt frustrate head coach Adam Griggs because his side had enough possession and territory to get the points needed to win this game only for unforced errors and lack of clinical play to undo Ireland on numerous occasions.

Ireland dominated territory and possession in the opening 10 minutes but they couldn’t get any points despite numerous attacking lineouts from just 10 metres out. Aoife McDermott, who was calling the lineouts on the day, was solid in the air but the attacking platforms broke down through mistakes time and time again.

Ireland were clearly trying to lay down a physical marker and they were led in this regard by Lindsay Peat who was getting over the gain-line on a couple of occasions.

One of Ireland’s knock-ons in a promising attacking position led to the USA’s first real attack of the game as Jennine Duncan sprinted up the far touchline before cutting back inside. There was only one defender left and that was Eimear Considine who put in a superb last-ditch tackle to stop a certain try.

Ireland Rugby

A turnover from Ciara Griffin looked to have relieved the danger but Ireland were sloppy once again and handed possession back to the visitors. A quick tap penalty from the USA saw Kimber Rozier crash over as Ireland didn’t react quick enough to the situation to stop the powerful centre.

Ireland looked to respond immediately and they almost did after a good lineout drive led to Peat peeling off the back of the maul to produce a strong carry. With numbers on the far side, Ireland spread the ball into midfield but opted for an inside pass which was deemed forward despite Considine crashing over the line on the next phase.

Griffin and Claire Molloy continued their superb defensive effort as they combined to win a turnover with the USA looking dangerous once again from a quick-tap penalty.

Michelle Claffey showed some lovely footwork in midfield to get the crowd off their feet but the promising attacking position soon broke down.

With less than 10 minutes remaining, Ciara Cooney left the pitch in considerable discomfort to what looked to be an arm injury and she was replaced by Nichola Fryday.

Ireland Injury

Once the substitution was made, the USA kicked a penalty to the corner as Griffin was penalised for going in off her feet at the ruck. From the resulting lineout, the USA laid siege on the Irish line but Considine put in a massive hit on Rozier to stem the momentum and knock the visitors back a few yards. Unfortunately, Ireland didn’t get their defence set correctly and Kaitlyn Broughton was able to score out wide to give the USA a 0-12 lead with five minutes remaining in the first half.

Ireland managed to get a much-needed confidence boost just before halftime as a mistake from the USA in midfield led to a quick counter-attack from the home side. The ball was spread wide to debutant and UL Bohemians club woman Laura Sheehan, and she showed her renowned electric pace to sprint clear down the far touchline to get Ireland back into the game.

Ireland Women Sheehan

USA started the second half on the front foot and they came close to getting their third try of the game as Duncan caused havoc once again only for a knock on to thwart her side’s efforts.

Nicole Cronin came into the game to replace Ailsa Hughes in an attempt to speed up proceedings but she was on defensive duties from the off as Ireland struggled to get out of their own 22.

Adam Griggs began to ring the changes as the experienced Leah Lyons and Emma Hooban entered the fray to add some impetus to the game. Hooban came on to win her first international cap to a loud cheer from her family in attendance.

Sheehan was on hand to get Ireland out of their own half when the winger burst through midfield but the ball was knocked on a few phases later which was becoming an unwanted characteristic of this Irish performance.

Soon after, it was Meya Bizer who produced some midfield magic as she sliced through the Irish midfield to bring play into the 22. Unlike Ireland moments earlier, the USA kept a hold of possession and they were able to dot down in the corner for their third try of the game and it was Bizer who was on hand to score which her initial break deserved.

Ireland were now 5-19 down but they soon got a hold of the game, especially up front, to desperately get some points on the board. However, their lineout malfunctioned just metres from the USA try line and the chance went a-begging, once again.

16-year-old Beibhinn Parsons came on with less than 10 minutes to go to make a bit of history as she became the youngest player to represent Ireland at senior international level.

Her introduction coincided with some dominant Irish play as a series of lineout drives came close to resulting in an Ireland try but the USA held firm on more than one occasion. Parsons did get the crowd off her feet with just a minute or two remaining in the game with a scything run. From the resulting pressure, Ireland were able to get over the line through Considine, a try which her performance deserved but it was too little too late as Cronin’s missed conversion brought an end to the game.

Ireland: 15. Lauren Delany (Parsons 73′), 14. Eimear Considine, 13. Sene Naoupu,  12.Michelle Claffey, 11. Laura Sheehan, 10. Nikki Caughey (McLaughlin 73′), 9. Ailsa Hughes (Cronin 46′), 1. Lindsay Peat (Feely 73′), 2. Sarah Mimnagh (Hooban 56′), 3. Fiona Reidy (Lyons 56′), 4.Aoife McDermott, 5. Ciara Cooney (Fryday 32′), 6. Edel McMahon (Deacon 58′), 7. Claire Molloy, 8. Ciara Griffin

Replacements: Emma Hooban, Laura Feely, Leah Lyons, Nichola Fryday, Jeamie Deacon, Nicole Cronin, Claire McLaughlin, Beibhinn Parsons

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email seanmc@punditarena.com or on Twitter