Jump to main content


Lineout-Loving McDermott Aiming To Soar Against Eagles

Lineout-Loving McDermott Aiming To Soar Against Eagles

Despite being in the infancy of her international rugby career, Sligo-born second row Aoife McDermott is ready to assume greater responsibility as she begins her second season with the Ireland Women’s team.

For just her fourth Ireland appearance, head coach Adam Griggs has entrusted Aoife McDermott with calling the lineouts in Sunday’s clash with the USA at Energia Park (kick-off 1pm). When you factor in the Eagles’ two recent Tests, McDermott and her team-mates will have a strong sense of what to expect.

Tickets for Ireland Women v USA Women are available on ticketmaster.ie.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

“It’s definitely my favourite part, I love the lineouts. The systems of the movement and things like that. I’ll be calling them on Sunday, so this will be my first time calling them at international level, explained McDermott, the Railway Union and Leinster lock.

“Coming in last year in the way that I did, Griggsy was very kind in that he took that pressure off me. I just had to worry about playing my own game last year. This year, it’s nice to have that added challenge of calling the lineouts.

“It’s great that the US have had two games (against New Zealand and England already this month) so we can scout them and watch them, see their movements and what their patterns are. Things they like to do. We can have an idea about how to attack that and we definitely will be looking to attack their lineouts and try to rob a few and disrupt it, while securing our own ones at the same time.”

Prior to taking up rugby in 2016, McDermott was a gifted basketball player. As well as playing with UL Huskies and DCU Mercy in the Women’s Super League, she represented Ireland from the Under-16 grade all the way up to senior level.

The 27-year-old, who helped Leinster regain the Interprovincial title earlier this season, admits it was a difficult decision to switch sports at such an advanced stage, but similar transitions made by Lindsay Peat and Louise Galvin convinced her that it was possible.

“It was a very scary decision. I remember heading down to Railway for my first training and not knowing anyone. I was literally walking away from the starting five of an Irish basketball team after a European Championship to see if this was going to work out or not, so it was terrifying.

“I don’t regret it. I think I had done as much as I could with the basketball and had achieved as much as I could. I just needed something new and I had seen Lindsay Peat and Louise Galvin cross over.

“I would have played with Louise in UL for years and had a lot of success at club level with Louise. Then because of that success, we would have beaten Lindsay a few times. Which I like to remind her about. It doesn’t go down too well!

Currently employed as a clinical research nurse at the Mater Hospital in Dublin, McDermott previously worked with Sky Sports’ ‘Living for Sport’ programme. It was there that she met 2013 Grand Slam winner Jenny Murphy, and a blossoming career in rugby eventually ensued.

“It was kinda through Jenny Murphy. We were at a team day, just chatting and she said, ‘would you ever give rugby a go?’ I said I’d love to. I’d give anything a go and next thing she said she would get her coach to give me a call.

Anthony Eddy (the IRFU Director of Women’s and Sevens Rugby) rang me and invited me down to a Sevens training session. I literally thought it was going to be a club coach, so I got some shock when the phone rang. I went down to the Sevens but I hadn’t a clue. The girls were like, ‘we ruck over’ and I was thinking, ‘a ruck? what’s that?’ 

“They were talking about working in pods of three, but I literally hadn’t a clue. So Anthony very kindly suggested that I maybe go to a club and learn the basics. The rules, things like that. I went down to Railway and it went from there.”

2018 has seen McDermott make rapid progress in the green jerseys of both club and country. Originally set for a place on the bench for February’s Six Nations meeting with Wales, the late withdrawal of Nichola Fryday saw her elevated to the starting line-up.

She retained her starting place for the subsequent games against Scotland and England, which unfortunately ended in defeats for Griggs’ charges. Nonetheless, from a personal point of view, the positives largely outweighed the negatives in her debut Six Nations campaign.

McDermott admitted: “It was a huge experience for me. I had never played rugby at that level before or at that intensity. It felt like it was a massive step up physically, especially the English game. The hits were so much harder and stuff.

“It was brilliant to see where other players at international level were at and where to be striving towards. And then just the more matches you play at that level. You always gain a few bits of knowledge and things like that.”

The most recent player to be capped under Griggs’ stewardship, McDermott will be joined in Sunday’s starting line-up by new caps Lauren Delany and Laura Sheehan. Emma Hooban and teenage sensation Beibhinn Parsons could also make their debuts off the bench, which brings back memories of McDermott’s own rise to prominence.

“It’s about making them feel welcome, putting them at ease. I think I was the last player who’s been capped. Anyone after this will be the next one, so it’s definitely fresh in my mind. We want to give a special experience for them, you only get your first cap once.

“We’ve got a great buzz around camp this time around. Everyone’s getting on really well and it’s good fun, good craic. The girls have fitted in really well and settled in really well, so it should be a good weekend for them,” she added.