Irish women's rugby team
Ireland Women's Head Coach Tom Tierney has named the Ireland Women's side to take on France in their first home game of the Women's 6 Nations in Donnybrook Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Tullamore's Nichola Fryday will provide back-row cover as she takes her place on the bench for the game that will be screened live on RTÉ.
Tierney has made several changes to the side that claimed a bonus-point win over Italy in L'Aquila. Sophie Spence moves from the replacements to partner Marie-Louise Reilly in the second row and there is a new-look backline, with Mary Healy wearing the number 9 jersey and partnering the experienced Nora Stapleton at out-half.
In the centre, Claire McLaughlin comes into the side, having been a replacement in Italy and Scotland, and she will line up beside Jenny Murphy. The back three sees Mairead Coyne at full-back and she will have Eimear Considine and Kim Flood, who was part of the Ireland 7s side in Dubai and Sydney, coming into the team, having won the last of her two 15s caps last season against Scotland.
The front-row remains unchanged, with hooker Leah Lyons, partnered by props Lindsay Peat and Ailis Egan. Flankers Ciara Griffin and Claire Molloy will again join Captain Paula Fitzpatrick in the back-row. The substitute's bench sees Ruth O'Reilly make her return to the international set-up, having recovered from a knee injury. She makes up the front-row replacements alongside Ciara O'Connor and Ilse Van Staden. Ciara Cooney and Nichola Fryday will provide second-row and back-row cover.
The replacement backs are Larissa Muldoon, Nikki Caughey and the uncapped Louise Galvin. Speaking on the selection, Tom Tierney said; "We made things hard for ourselves at times in Italy, especially in the first half where we weren't as accurate as we needed to be. However in the second half we improved and to claim the try-bonus with the last play of the game was very pleasing."
"We now head into a tough test on Sunday against the French. They recovered well from their defeat to England on the opening weekend to show why they are defending champions as they beat Scotland well. We've got a couple of players getting their first Six Nations starts of this season, and we're looking to continue to give players more game time as we continue to develop depth in the squad ahead of the Women's Rugby World Cup in August. It's our first home game of the Six Nations so we're hoping to see a big turnout of fans on Sunday in Donnybrook," he added.
The full Irish team to play France:
1. Lindsay Peat (Railway Union / Leinster)
2. Leah Lyons (Highfield / Munster)
3. Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
4. Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
5. Marie-Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
6. Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians / Munster)
7. Claire Molloy (Bristol / Connacht)
8. Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary's College / Leinster) Captain
9. Mary Healy (Galwegians / Connacht)
10. Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
11. Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians / Munster)
12. Claire Mc Laughlin (Cooke / Ulster)
13. Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
14. Kim Flood (Railway Union / Leinster)
15. Mairead Coyne (Galwegians / Connacht)
16. Ciara O Connor (Galwegians / Connacht)
17. Ilse Van Staden (Cooke / Ulster)
18. Ruth O'Reilly (Galwegians / Connacht)
19. Ciara Cooney (Railway Union / Leinster)
20. Nichola Fryday (Tullamore / Connacht)
21. Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union)
22. Nikki Caughey (Railway Union / Ulster)
23. Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians / Munster)*