Ireland Women ‘under no illusions’ after Italy’s display against England
Coach Adam Griggs hoping for fewer individual errors in first home game in charge
Ireland Women head coach Adam Griggs says Ciara Cooney will miss the rest of the Six Nations. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Women’s Six Nations: Ireland v Italy
Donnybrook, Sunday, 1pm – Live RTÉ 2
Step one in any rebuilding phase: improve standards. Step two: win a game. The honeymoon period is over for Ireland coach Adam Griggs. Shipping 24 points and scoring none last Saturday in Toulouse saw to that.
The loss of Ciara Cooney is offset by the return to the starting XV of former captain Paula Fitzpatrick at lock rather than backrow, so an improved running threat is expected off set pieces.
“Ciara will be out for the rest of the Six Nations, a lot of damage on her ankle, it’s a complete tear,” said Griggs. “I don’t know the exact medical term but both sides of her ankle, she has torn ligaments on. At the moment she’s had scans, we’re waiting to see if she needs surgery or not.
“At the time we thought it was broken, then X-rays showed no break, which sometimes you’d actually rather than the ligaments. It’s going to be a bit of a road back for her I think.”
Griggs appears to understand that performing the basics are vital for this squad to rebuild. Still, individual performance levels will come under scrutiny now as victory over Italy at home would be a non-negotiable in previous campaigns.
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It’s worth noting that Ireland are currently ranked ninth in the world, one behind Sunday’s opposition.
“I don’t think we need to change a lot,” said Griggs. “It’s more cut down on some of the individual errors that we had, certainly our defence and our tackle technique is something we need to look at because when we were reviewing the game, a lot of our systems were actually quite good, it was just little individual mistakes that kind of cost us, and the same in attack.
“We were pressing on their try line a few times and we’d knock a ball on and let them off the hook. So, I don’t think we need to reinvent the wheel this week much, but just really hone in on those individual errors and make sure we cut those down for this week.”
The return of Katie Fitzhenry from Sevens duty should improve the midfield attack with Niamh Briggs and Sene Naoupu expected to provide the creative spark from 10-12.
“It’s all about performance for us this week and if we can get a good performance individually and collectively, I think the result will take care of itself,” Griggs added. “We’re certainly under no illusions, watching England play Italy last week it was 7-all at half-time and Italy were right in the game.”
England ran out 42-7 winners.
Donnybrook on Sunday is a huge moment for Ciara Griffin as the Kerry woman captains her country at home for the first time. Even in these transitionary times, nothing short of victory should be deemed acceptable to players, coaches or supporters.
Ireland: Kim Flood (Railway Union/ Leinster); Megan Williams (Old Belvedere/ Leinster), Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock College/ Leinster), Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/ Leinster); Alison Miller (Old Belvedere /Connacht); Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemian / Munster), Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/ Leinster); Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/ Leinster), Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/ Leinster), Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemian/ Munster); Paula Fitzpatrick (St Mary’s/ Leinster), Nichola Fryday (Tullamore/ Connacht); Anna Caplice (UL Bohemians/ Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol / Connacht), Ciara Griffin (Tralee/ Munster, capt).
Replacements: Leah Lyons (Highfield/ Munster), Laura Feely (Galweigians/ Connacht), Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians/ Connacht), Orla Fitzsimons (St Mary’s/ Leinster), Edel McMahon (Galwegians/ Connacht) *, Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians/ Munster), Michelle Claffey (Blackrock College/ Leinster) *, Claire McLaughlin (Cooke/ Ulster).
Verdict: Ireland win.