Challenge for Ireland women as they open Six Nations against England

Strong trio will lead Irish team at Donnybrook on Friday at controversial 5pm time

Ireland captain Ciara Griffin: will be supported by Sene Naoupu and Claire Molloy against a fully professional England side. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Ireland coach Adam Griggs has named a strong trio of leaders, with Sene Naoupu and Claire Molloy supporting captain Ciara Griffin against a fully professional England side in Donnybrook on Friday, at the mildly controversial 5pm kick-off time (Live Sky Sports Mix and RTÉ).

“There’s no bigger challenge than to open the Six Nations against England, they are second in the world for a reason and are a very good side who challenge you in every part of the game,” said Griggs. “We had a good test against them in November and, while we didn’t get the result, we showed some of the standards and improvements that are required to compete at this level, which was a huge positive for us.

“We have had good preparations leading into this Friday, and are looking for a strong performance to get the championship started in front of what we hope will be an amazing crowd behind us.”

Tickets are still available for Energia Park – terrace €10 and unreserved stand €15 – to see this excellent English side, particularly Emily Scarratt, presuming she shakes off a hamstring injury after transitioning back from Sevens along with Natasha “Mo” Hunt and Jess Breach.


Alison Miller is a welcome return to the Ireland bench having suffered a terrible leg break against Italy 11 months ago.

IRELAND: Lauren Delany (Firwood Waterloo/IQ Rugby); Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster), Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Michelle Claffey (Blackrock/Leinster), Megan Williams (Old Belvedere/Leinster); Nicole Fowley (Galwegians/Connacht), Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/Leinster); Laura Feely (Galwegians/Connacht), Leah Lyons (Harlequins), Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians/Munster); Aoife McDermott (Railway Union/Leinster), Nichola Fryday (Galwegians/ Connacht); Juliet Short (Railway Union/Leinster), Claire Molloy (Wasps), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster, capt). Replacements: Emma Hooban (St Mary's College/Leinster), Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster)*, Anne Marie O'Hora (Galwegians/Connacht)*, Anna Caplice (Richmond), Claire McLaughlin (Old Belvedere/Ulster), Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster)*, Ellen Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht).


Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent