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Ireland Women’s Olympic Dreams Dashed By England Defeat

Ireland Women’s Olympic Dreams Dashed By England Defeat

Kerry native Louise Galvin led by example in the forwards as the Ireland Women's Sevens team competed at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Kazan ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

The Ireland Women’s Sevens team’s hopes of reaching the 2020 Olympics were ended by England, the eventual winners of a fiercely-competitive Olympic qualifier in Kazan where Stan McDowell’s side bowed out at the quarter-final stage.

Ireland played two fellow World Series teams in the Russian city and lost both games, a heartbreaking 17-7 quarter-final loss to England knocking them out of contention for Tokyo. They were fifth-place finishers following well-executed wins over Romania (48-0) and Poland (33-5), the latter game seeing Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe take her weekend’s haul to eight tries.

This is a young and ever-developing Irish squad – 11 of the 13 travelling players are aged between 19 and 25 – and they will be determined to end the season with an improved overall performance at next week’s final Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series leg in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

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The last twelve months has seen them secure best-ever finishes of sixth at the Rugby World Rugby Sevens and eighth in the World Series, including a historic semi-final appearance in Sydney.

Their rise should continue given the squad’s increasing levels of experience and the IRFU Sevens Programme’s recent move to the new High Performance training facility at the Sport Ireland Campus in Abbotstown.

Ireland lost their grip on a seven-point first half lead against old rivals England, their early progress including Hannah Tyrrell’s fourth-minute try which saw her step inside Deborah Fleming following ground-gaining runs in the 22 by both Kathy Baker and scrum half Stacey Flood.

However, a decoy runner opened up space for Holly Aitchison to charge down the right touchline and ground the ball despite Louise Galvin’s last-ditch tackle. Ireland were still 7-5 to the good until Fleming edged her side in front, her try coming in somewhat controversial circumstances as there appeared to be a knock-on by England in the previous phase.

The lack of a whistle from Scottish referee Hollie Davidson drew boos from some of the local supporters, but England did manage to squeeze Ireland for territory in the second period and emerge as worthy winners of a very hard-fought clash. Alex Matthews confirmed it with a last-minute try courtesy of a strong hand-off.

Tyrrell and Audrey O’Flynn scored two tries each – and Eve Higgins tallied up 13 points – as Ireland bounced against Romania in their 5th-8th place play-off. They led 17-0 at half-time, the lively Megan Burns and Tyrrell both raiding over from the right wing before Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird muscled her way through midfield on the stroke of half-time.

Young replacement Baker evaded a couple of defenders to quickly add to the try tally, before O’Flynn reached over in the left corner, swatting away two defenders in the process. Higgins landed a peach of a conversion, and the closing stages produced more tries for Tyrrell, O’Flynn and Higgins, who broke through with a clever dummy.

Despite temporarily losing a bloodied O’Flynn to an early injury, Ireland gradually ground a well-drilled Poland side into submission. The Poles had the better of the first half, their captain Karolina Jaszczyszyn finishing smartly but Tyrrell deftly swooped on a grounded pass and spun to release Murphy Crowe for an inspiring late score and a 7-5 interval lead.

Strong-running skipper Mulhall made the initial break to set up the trailing Murphy Crowe to dart clear again and provide some breathing space. Ireland were dominant thereafter, Higgins and Murphy Crowe both beating defenders on the outside to settle the issue before Burns came off the bench to make it a five-try triumph.

Seven Women’s teams have now confirmed their place at Tokyo 2020 in hosts Japan, South American champions Brazil, Great Britain (courtesy of England’s efforts in Kazan) and the four teams who advanced courtesy of a top-four finish in the World Series – New Zealand, the USA, Canada and Australia.

Russia, who lost 19-0 to England in the Kazan final, and France, who overcame Spain 17-5 to claim third spot, will represent Europe in the World Rugby Repechage next summer – the event which will produce the last qualifying team for the Olympics. Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Jamaica will also compete in the Repechage.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2019 Rugby Europe Olympic Women’s Sevens Qualifier, Central Stadium, Kazan, Russia, Saturday, July 13-Sunday, July 14):

Kathy Baker (Blackrock/Leinster)
Megan Burns (Tullamore/Leinster)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster)
Brittany Hogan (Railway Union/Ulster)
Emily Lane (Mallow/Munster)
Anna McGann (UCD/Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum) (capt)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster)
Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Old Belvedere/Munster)
Audrey O’Flynn (Ireland Sevens Programme)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

2019 RUGBY EUROPE OLYMPIC WOMEN’S SEVENS QUALIFIER:

POOL A – France, Poland, Italy, Moldova

POOL B – Russia, England, Germany, Sweden

POOL C – Spain, IRELAND, Romania, Czech Republic

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Results –

Saturday, July 13 –

POOL C:

Ireland 48 Romania 0, Central Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 2, Louise Galvin, Stacey Flood, Hannah Tyrrell 2, Emily Lane, Eve Higgins; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 3, Eve Higgins
HT: Ireland 26 Romania 0

Team: Louise Galvin, Kathy Baker, Audrey O’Flynn, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Hannah Tyrrell, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.

Subs: Megan Burns, Eve Higgins, Brittany Hogan, Emily Lane, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird.

Ireland 50 Czech Republic 0, Central Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Louise Galvin, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 3, Kathy Baker, Eve Higgins 2, Megan Burns; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 5
HT: Ireland 35 Czech Republic 0

Team: Louise Galvin, Kathy Baker, Brittany Hogan, Emily Lane, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Hannah Tyrrell, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.

Subs: Megan Burns, Stacey Flood, Eve Higgins, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Audrey O’Flynn.

Spain 19 Ireland 5, Central Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Lucy Mulhall
HT: Spain 12 Ireland 0

Team: Louise Galvin, Kathy Baker, Audrey O’Flynn, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Hannah Tyrrell, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.

Subs: Megan Burns, Eve Higgins, Brittany Hogan, Emily Lane, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird.

Day 1 Round-Up – Quarter-Final Duel With England Awaits Ireland Women

Sunday, July 14 –

CUP QUARTER-FINAL: England 17 Ireland 7, Central Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Hannah Tyrrell; Con: Lucy Mulhall
HT: England 5 Ireland 7

Team: Louise Galvin, Kathy Baker, Audrey O’Flynn, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Hannah Tyrrell, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.

Subs: Megan Burns, Eve Higgins, Brittany Hogan, Emily Lane, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird.

5TH-8TH PLACE PLAY-OFF: Romania 0 Ireland 48, Central Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Megan Burns, Hannah Tyrrell 2, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Kathy Baker, Audrey O’Flynn 2, Eve Higgins; Cons: Eve Higgins 4
HT: Romania 0 Ireland 17

Team: Louise Galvin, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Brittany Hogan, Emily Lane, Eve Higgins, Megan Burns, Hannah Tyrrell.

Subs: Kathy Baker, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Audrey O’Flynn.

5TH-6TH PLACE PLAY-OFF: Ireland 33 Poland 5, Central Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 3, Eve Higgins, Megan Burns; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 4
HT: Ireland 7 Poland 5

Team: Louise Galvin, Kathy Baker, Audrey O’Flynn, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Hannah Tyrrell, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.

Subs: Megan Burns, Eve Higgins, Brittany Hogan, Emily Lane, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird.

Click here to view the final pool tables, results and overall rankings.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS – European Schedule:

June 29-30: Marcoussis, France – Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Series First Leg (4th Place/14 Points)

July 13-14: Kazan, Russia – Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Olympic Qualifying Tournament (5th Place)

July 20-21: Kharkiv, Ukraine – Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Series Second Leg