The Ireland Women’s Sevens team finished fourth in Biarritz over the weekend with encouraging wins over Spain and Wales.
The competition, in Biarritz, was seen as a warm-up tournament on the road to Olympic qualification next year. A number of the World Series teams brought strong panels with them and Ireland faced a tough group.
Jon Skurr’s travelling squad, which included the returning Jenny Murphy and Ashleigh Baxter, started the day brightly with a 33-7 win over Wales.
St. Mary’s flyer Martina McCarthy scored a brace of tries in the tournament opener, while Katie Fitzhenry, captain Shannon Houston and Hannah Tyrrell also touched down.
Ireland came up against a strong England side in their second game and were beaten 24-5, with Tralee’s Siobhan Barrett (pictured below) scoring their only try.
Next up was World Series team Spain and a thrilling victory ensued with Ireland running out winners by 17-7 – Claire Keohane added one conversion to tries from McCarthy and Barrett (2).
This earned the girls in green a shot at the 3rd/4th place play-off where they came up against England again. The final score of 38-7, with Fitzhenry crossing for the girls in green, belied an excellent performance from the Irish squad as they continue their development.
The tournament marked Lucy Mulhall’s international debut. The Wicklow youngster, who has a Gaelic football background, came through the Talent ID programme during the summer and progressed into the Ireland Sevens senior squad in July when she centralised.
Speaking after the tournament, head coach Jon Skurr said: “We are satisfied with the majority of performances during the weekend. We started strongly and comfortably beat a Welsh team that had beaten us at the Euros.
“The two England games showed that we can compete with the best, we just fell away in the second halves. This will improve as the girls get more and more game-time.
“The Spain performance showed the commitment and desire that we expect from the girls and showed how far we have come. We are heading in the right direction but need to continue to push ourselves to improve.”
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (France Women’s Sevens Tournament, Biarritz, Saturday, November 15):
Shannon Houston (capt)
Laura Lee Walsh