Meet the Irish women who will face Wales this weekend
Ireland open their Six Nations with a trip to Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday
Sene Naoupu and Eve Higgins will team up in the Irish centre against Wales. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
15 Eimear Considine
Master of all trades and jack of none, the wonder is where she finds the time to be a rugby pundit, podcaster, teacher and vital cog in Ireland’s attack. Eventually, surely, the west Clare flyer with GAA roots will follow her sister Ailish into the realm of professional athlete.
14 Lauren Delany
A performance nutritionist with Leeds Rhinos and PhD student, the Shankill native continually shows the value of a childhood shooting hoops when it comes to juggling a dual career with the oval ball. Equally comfortable at fullback.
13 Eve Higgins
Not since Trevor Brennan has Barnhall RFC unleashed a cat amongst the pigeons at an Ireland training session. This Sevens specialist has a killer step and thumping tackle technique, that should allow her to make the 13 jersey her own.
12 Sene Naoupu
Thank the rugby gods that Connacht signed husband George back in 2009. The evergreen footballer has lived a few lives off the field, overcoming two serious health scares, while remaining the same, skilled performer on it. “Hustle and heart” is her motto.
11 Beibhinn Parsons
Despite being capped at 16, there is still time to get on the Parsons train before it enters the stratosphere. Strong character with ridiculous pace and a swerve that can take her and Ireland back to the elite end of the sport.
10 Hannah Tyrrell
Another athlete with a fascinating back story, now expected to bring the save pair of hands and feet she previously showed as a Dublin goalkeeper before rugby, via a stint at Shamrock Rovers, remoulded her into an outhalf.
Rugby is only the beginning of what appears a fruitful career in sports research and exercise medicine as the Fermanagh native, who works for Leinster as a physio, seeks to transfer genuine soccer talent to her chosen sport.
1 Lindsay Peat
Pigeonhole at your peril. Mother, PE teacher, clerical officer for the HSE, the sight of this ridiculous overachiever sparks memories of a menacing point guard for DCU Mercy or fronting the Dubs resistance against Cork in Croke Park. First capped at 35, still going strong.
2 Cliodhna Moloney
Loves a turnover. Following in the tradition of Irish hookers, like Keith Wood, who enhanced their reputation on the English club scene, she came to rugby via Galway GAA, and is really a flanker masquerading as a front row merchant. Not that she lacks substance at hooker.
3 Linda Djougang
After nursing the Covid ward, this international rugby lark must seem easy, but she does appear to have come out of lockdown with increased physicality and offloading skills. It could be argued that she’s already the lynchpin of this Steve McGinnis coached pack.
4 Aoife McDermott
Another international basketballer lured by rugby, the obvious advantage being height, but the clinical research nurse has an intellect that allows her perform as if she’s still rebounding and setting screens on the court. Ireland cannot do without her.
Educated at Kilkenny College, a rugby school in hurling country, she only came to the game while studying agricultural science in UCD. Maybe not as noticeable as the primary ball carriers, her appetite for dirty work and set piece value makes the Offaly woman a valued member of Adam Grigg’s squad.
Blackrock College RFC/Munster
The radiography student can be the breakout star of this Six Nations. Betsy O’Connor, Wall’s grandmother, is a New Yorker who studied Russian literature and economics at Harvard, while also an exceptional athlete, who married a Tipperary farmer and passed on a love of Munster rugby to the most destructive ball carrier the women’s game in this country has ever produced.
7 Claire Molloy
Dr Molloy is in the conversation for Ireland’s greatest player, certainly the best openside flanker produced by Galway GAA, with a stellar reputation enhanced week in week out in the English Premier 15s. Breakdown expertise remains essential to the cause.
The leader of women somehow combines primary school teaching and beef farming with the busy schedule of an Ireland captain, and does so with a light touch, that is, until she gets on the pitch. Workaholic.