Tom Tierney and Alison Miller still on Six Nations high

Sunday’s 73-3 victory over Scotland secured a stunning second title in three seasons

On a weekend where points came in cloudbursts, it was easy to forget that the game has two sides. So when Tom Tierney is asked how he approached Ireland's final game against Scotland where his team had to win by at least 27 points, he pointed to how the men's Six Nations had panned out on Saturday. Across three games, Ireland were the that conceded the fewest points. First and foremost, he wanted his side to emulate them.

“We said we’d be up front and straight with them on everything,” says Tierney on the morning after the night before. “We spoke about needing to win by 27 points but we were very straight in our wording and told them that the only way you can ever win by 27 points or more is by doing the basics properly.

"And that goes for defensive work as well as attacking. We saw on Saturday with the men that defence is absolutely critical. People forget that the reason Ireland won the title was because they had the best defensive record of the three games. If England had sorted themselves out and didn't concede 35 points, they would probably be Six Nations champions. So we were very strong on that with the players, driving home the point that we had to do our work from a defensive point of view."

In so doing, Ireland's women won their second Six Nations title in three seasons. They ran up 73 points and only conceded three. For hat-trick scorer Alison Miller, the build-up to Sunday was an odd experience - knowing you need to win is one thing, knowing you have to run up a score is another entirely.


“It’s tough knowing that you could win and it still not be good enough. That’s the one thing that was different. So it was a matter of just concentrating on execution and trusting that the points would come. I just broke the game down into 20-minute blocks. If we were able to score every 20 minutes, we would build a score and we would win by enough. So that’s the way I went at it.

“As a player, I’m realistic. Not negative really but you always have to be aware that anything can happen. You’re confident enough that you’re going the right way but obviously you have to know that anything could happen at any given time. We were ruthless and we kept performing and kept scoring and I never relaxed until the last 10 minutes. By then I knew we had it and there was no coming back.

“This is a great morning to wake up. The body is tired enough after all the celebrations. We did our recovery but I suppose in the circumstances you maybe don’t do too much of it. It’s not like we have to play again next week. We still would look after ourselves obviously. All the good teams are ruthless. You look at the Kilkenny hurlers - they can never beat a team by enough. You have to keep your foot on the pedal and keep it going in case a team comes back at you.”

Tierney was only appointed in the dog days of December, with the tournament hoving into view. He’s been doing the job part-time and only starts full-time in April. To win the Six Nations in those circumstances is some achievement and hints at a bright future all round.

“We set out three months ago with a plan to be as competitive as we could be in this Six Nations,” says Tierney, “and obviously to win the thing is brilliant. All credit goes to the players, both the senior girls and the new ones that came in. We played Italy in the first game of the championship and we put 30 points on them. It wasn’t a game that suited Italy - we had our homework done on them. We knew that if you leave them play, they can be very effective.

“We stopped them dead that first day but we had an idea that they could do a job against France because France traditionally take their eye off the ball playing them. We knew as well that France would be up for the game against England. It was a huge boos for us that the games played out that way and it left us knowing what we needed to do yesterday.

“There was pressure for us all and the girls took it on their shoulders and ran with it. We were by far the better side, Scotland were very poor. But the most pleasing thing was how clinical we were. We never let up for a minute - 73 points in 80 minutes is fair going. It was a really professional job by everyone.”

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times