Rugby fans welcome ‘Girls in Green’ home with hugs and tears
Irish women’s World Cup team arrive at Dublin following achievements in France
Rugby player Jenny Murphy (centre) with fans at Dublin Airport during the arrival of the Ireland Rugby team that got to The World Cup Semi-Finals in the Women’s World Cup in France. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins
Following a tournament to remember, it was only fitting that hundreds turned out to give the Irish women’s rugby team an unforgettably rapturous reception upon their return from the Women’s Rugby World Cup in France today.
Hundreds of expectant fans thronged Dublin Airport’s Terminal One from early afternoon to witness the homecoming of the ‘Girls in Green’ following their momentous semi-final achievement. The hour-and-a-half delay until touchdown served only to heighten anticipation before the arrival doors swung open and the entire squad was enveloped by their adoring public.
Amid raucous renditions of ‘Ireland’s Call’ and ‘The Fields of Athenry’, tears were shed and hugs were embraced as team-members Sharon Lynch and Niamh Briggs, whose metronomic accuracy from placed-kicks helped cement that famous victory over New Zealand in the group stages, had to contend with the unbridled affections of younger family members along with the glare of camera lights from the amassed press corps present.
Consecutive defeats to eventual champions England in the semi-final and France in the third place playoff failed to dampen enthusiasm for Ireland’s unquestionable generation of golden girls, and winger Alison Miller was glad to be home following her own virtuoso, try-laden performance against the Black Ferns.
“Before we came to this tournament the best an Irish women’s rugby team had finished was 7th in the last World Cup so to get to a semi-final was an amazing achievement. It’s great for women’s sport that we’ve gathered this much attention. It’s fantastic, it’s great for the game and it’ll increase the profile of women’s rugby, and more people will get involved because of it,” said Portlaoise native Miller.
Earlier this week the Irish sporting public learned of coach Philip Doyle’s plans to retire from the Ireland women’s rugby setup. Having presided over that side for the last 11 years, Doyle is of the opinion that Irish women’s rugby, and women’s sport in general in this country, deserves more support from the Government.
“I’m immensely proud of what we’ve done for women’s sport in Ireland. I think it’s about time the Government stood up a bit and acted on what women are doing, the IRFU are backing us immensely but the Government need to start putting support into women’s sport and not just the men’s,” said Doyle.
Although his coaching days may be at an end for now, he’s currently in discussions with the IRFU over a potential future role within the organisation, albeit of a far less hands-on nature.
Despite the overwhelmingly-positive media attention that has been lavished on his side over the last few weeks, Doyle made it abundantly clear that he and he squad were less than enamoured with one highly-publicised Sunday Independent piece in particular.
“We heard about it obviously and we heard that she got an awful kickback and we’re quite happy about that, there’s no need for those kind of articles especially in a game like we have,” he said.