The Irish Women's side failed to repeat last year's heroics as full-back Non Evans inspired Wales to a 14-7 win over the hosts at Donnybrook on Saturday afternoon.
WOMEN'S 6 NATIONS: Saturday, February 25
IRELAND WOMEN 7 WALES WOMEN 14, Donnybrook
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Germaine Healy; Con: Sarah Jane Belton
Wales: Try: Non Evans; Pens: Evans 3
Philip Doyle's "girls in green", 11-6 winners over the Welsh last March, struggled in the opening half as the visitors cut free for an 11-0 lead at the interval.
The experienced Evans slotted two penalties on 21 and 30 minutes. Then fly half Naomi Thomas spied a gap in the Irish defence, sped through it and laid the platform for Evans to get out in the right corner just before half-time.
The Irish had a chance to notch a try of their own in first half injury-time, but hooker Jean Lonergan's throw, at a lineout five metres out, was lost.
French referee Jean-Marie Piraveau was rather over zealous in his penalising at the breakdown and Welsh prop Louise Horgan was unfortunate to be sin-binned early in the second half for killing the ball. The Irish, sensing their chance, managed to reduce the gap with a converted try whilst Horgan was off.
Number eight Joy Neville claimed a close-in lineout and the maul rumbled over with Blackrock lock Germaine Healy touching down. Fly half and captain Sarah Jane Belton converted well from a difficult angle to leave the hosts trailing by four.
The impressive Neville went close to adding to Ireland's tally when being held up just short of the Welsh line, but Evans steadied the visitors with her third penalty and the final scoring act of an evenly-contested game.
Irish manager Mark Andrews said afterwards: "We played poorly in the first half and that cost us the game really. We didn't make the most of the opportunities we had - we had six or seven scoring chances, but never made full use of them.
"It wasn't a case of us losing our discipline and allowing (Non) Evans to kick the penalties - there was something like 43 penalties throughout the entire match. Ireland had 20, Wales 23.
"Next up we're got Scotland in Navan. We're out of the championship so we'll look to put in a positive performance there."
IRELAND WOMEN: Joanne O'Sullivan (Lichfield); Nuala Ni Chadhain (Galwegians), Lynne Cantwell (Trojans), Patrique Kelly (UL Bohemians), Suzanne Fleming (Cooke); Sarah Jane Belton (UL Bohemians) (capt), Tania Rosser (Blackrock); Fiona Coughlan (UL Bohemians) (vice-capt), Jean Lonergan (Shannon), Marie Barrett (Highfield), Caroline Mahon (UL Bohemians), Germaine Healy (Blackrock), Orla Brennan (Blackrock), Rachel Boyd (Cooke), Joy Neville (Shannon).
Replacements used: Rosie Foley (Shannon) for Mahon, Grace Davitt (Blackrock) for Ni Chadhain (both 72 mins). Not used: Yvonne Nolan (Backrock), Gillian McAllister (Cooke), Sinead Ryan (Navan), Amanda Greensmith (Shannon), Louise Beamish (UL Bohemians).
WALES WOMEN: Non Evans (Tylorstown/Clifton); Louise Rickard (Saracens), Rhian Williams (Wasps), Clare Flowers (Tylorstown/Clifton), Rachel Poolman (UWIC); Naomi Thomas (Tylorstown/Clifton), Mel Berry (Worcester); Amy Broadstock (Llandaff North), Rhian Bowden (UWIC), Louise Horgan (Saracens), Liza Burgess (Tylorstown/Clifton), Rachel Brown (Waterloo), Catrina Nicholas (Cardiff Quins), Jamie Kift (Tylorstown/Clifton), Kylie Wilson (Waterloo).
Replacements used: Claire Horgan (Waterloo) for Broadstock, Jenny Davies (Caernarfon) for Bowden (both 45 mins), Claire Donovan (Saracens) for Brown (70). Not used: Vikki Gaylard (Llandaff North), Amy Day (UWIC), Elen Evans (Dolgellau), Philippa Tuttiett (UWIC).
Referee: Jean-Marie Piraveau (France)