Experimental Ireland facing a tough assignment against England

Coach Tom Tierney including six debutants for Stoop test

This first November international could become a historic one should Niamh Briggs’s Ireland figure a way to win a Test match on English soil for the first time in their history.

To be honest that’s highly unlikely seeing that England’s World Cup-winning forwards like Marlie Packer and Rochelle Clarke will be on deck this afternoon. They are also seeking to atone for last week’s 11-0 defeat to France at The Stoop, their official new home.

Another cause for concern is the six Irish debuts – Jeamie Deacon, Mairead Coyne, Aine Donnelly, Cliodhna Moloney, Elaine Anthony and Ciara Cooney – head coach Tom Tierney has named.

But this can all be viewed in a positive light. Crossover Sevens players will understandably focus on that game now that Ireland have qualified for the World Series so Tierney has been scouring the club and interpro scenes in search of fresh talent to build depth ahead of the Six Nations (which clashes with two Sevens tournaments) and 2017 World Cup.


That includes Lindsay Peat. An accomplished Dublin footballer and basketballer, her rapid promotion to the Ireland squad, albeit helped by injury to others, makes her possible introduction off the bench an intriguing prospect.

Same goes for the sight of Sophie Spence in the backrow. Nominated for world player of the year as a lock, Spence provides cover for the injured Claire Molloy.

Step up

“We are part of the (IRFU) high performance now,” said Briggs. “The camps of late have been a step up in our preparation. We have met at least once a month. The S and C and skills have gone up another level as well.

"It's great to see; it's what we wanted to see for years. Before this it was three or four weekends in January before the Six Nations. Now it's constant, we are in touch all the time."

ENGLAND: Sarah McKenna; Katie Mason, Lauren Cattell, Ceri Large, Charlotte Clapp; Emily Scott, La Toya Mason; Rochelle Clarke, Emma Croker, Justine Lucas; Tamara Taylor, Abbie Scott; Hannah Gallagher, Marlie Packer, Sarah Hunter (capt). Replacements: Amy Cokayne, Vickii Cornborough, Heather Kerr, Harriet Millar-Mills, Izzy Noel-Smith, Leanne Riley, Rachel Lund, Ruth Laybourn.

IRELAND: Niamh Briggs (capt); Jeamie Deacon, Aine Donnelly, Jackie Shiels, Mairead Coyne; Sene Naoupu, Larissa Muldoon; Ruth O'Reilly, Cliodhna Moloney, Ailis Egan; Elaine Anthony, Ciara Cooney; Sophie Spence, Paula Fitzpatrick, Heather O'Brien. Replacements: Zoe Grattage, Fiona Reidy, Fiona O'Brien, Katie Norris, Lindsay Peat, Mary Healy, Nora Stapleton, Claire McLaughlin.

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent