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Ireland Women Close Out Season With European Bronze

Ireland Women Close Out Season With European Bronze

Railway Union and Ulster’s Lucinda Kinghan wins a lineout for the Ireland Women against Belgium ©Andrey Necheporenko/Ukrainian Rugby

20-year-old captain Emily Lane and her Ireland team-mates were presented with bronze medals at the end of the Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Series, with Stan McDowell’s youngsters finishing fourth in the final leg in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Ireland’s two fourth-place finishes across the two legs netted them 28 series points, securing third overall with France in second and Russia retaining the title. It is the fourth successive year that the girls in green have earned a podium finish in Europe with one silver and three bronze medals won since 2016.

Notably, nine members of the Irish squad in Kharkiv were aged between 19 and 21, with four teenagers involved and three new caps in Stephanie Carroll, Lucinda Kinghan and Dorothy Wall. Valuable game-time in Europe has seen other players push through to World Series level, and it is hoped that some of these youngsters can follow that path next season and beyond.

Back-to-back pool wins over Wales and Spain earned Ireland a Cup quarter-final against Belgium and defences were on top for most of the opening half. That was until Eve Higgins, a leading light across the weekend, attacked the short side and Kathy Baker made it over halfway with Lane then streaking clear from the resulting ruck for a well-taken converted try.

There was still enough time before the break for Belgium to level through winger Cecile Blondiau, but Ireland triumphed 14-7 thanks to Higgins’ tremendous 10th-minute score, which saw her use scrum possession to dart inside a defender and finish swiftly from 70 metres out. Kinghan’s tidying up of a dangerous kick through helped her side to stand firm.

At the semi-final stage, two excellent individual tries from 19-year-old replacement Anna Doyle saw Ireland finish with a flourish against France who ran out 34-19 winners in the end. The French side was back-boned by the experienced Chloe Pelle, Jade Le Pesq and Lina Guerin, while nine of their squad in Kharkiv had gained World Series experience this season.

A Valentine Lothoz hat-trick had France 17-0 clear before Ireland hit back on the stroke of half-time. Lane’s offload out of a tackle sent Megan Burns scurrying down the right wing and Baker’s timely clear-out and protection provided possession which was switched out to the left where Claire Boles had the legs to finish off a breathless counter-attack.

Les Bleues were able to repeat their three-try first half with scores from Nassira Konde, Pelle and Ian Jason, although Doyle starred with her late cameo. Firstly, the Tullow teenager took off from outside the Irish 22, bursting through a gap and outpacing Pelle for her first try, and she also showed her eye for a gap when completing her brace from the French 10-metre line.

The tournament finished on a losing note for Ireland with a 40-14 loss to a Katarzyna Paszczyk-inspired Poland in the bronze final. The strong-running Poles were clinical as they broke into a 26-0 interval lead thanks mainly to two tries from Paszczyk, who also supplied the assists for scores from Natalia Pamieta and Karolina Maliszewska.

The second period was a more even contest, although Paszczyk and Julianna Schuster were able to sandwich in two more breakaway efforts for the victors. Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird used a strong hand-off to score from halfway, and Ireland had the final say when Higgins drew in two defenders, just outside the Irish 22, and released Boles who expertly evaded a tackle and charged clear to go under the posts.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2019 Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Series – Round 2, Dynamo Stadium, Kharkiv, Ukraine, Saturday, July 20-Sunday, July 21):

Kathy Baker (Blackrock/Leinster)
Claire Boles (Railway Union/Ulster)
Megan Burns (Tullamore/Leinster)
Stephanie Carroll (Railway Union) *
Anna Doyle (Tullow/Railway Union/Leinster)
Aoife Doyle (Shannon/Railway Union/Munster)
Katie Heffernan (Mullingar/Railway Union/Leinster)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster)
Lucinda Kinghan (Railway Union/Ulster) *
Emily Lane (Mallow/Munster) (capt)
Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Old Belvedere/Munster)
Dorothy Wall (Fethard/Munster) *

* Denotes uncapped player

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Results –

Saturday, July 20 –

POOL C:

Ireland 7 Italy 27, Dynamo Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Eve Higgins; Con: Eve Higgins
HT: Ireland 7 Italy 12

Team: Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Kathy Baker, Claire Boles, Emily Lane (capt), Eve Higgins, Aoife Doyle, Megan Burns.

Subs: Stephanie Carroll, Anna Doyle, Katie Heffernan, Lucinda Kinghan, Dorothy Wall.

Ireland 19 Wales 14, Dynamo Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Eve Higgins 2, Emily Lane; Cons: Eve Higgins 2
HT: Ireland 5 Wales 14

Team: Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Kathy Baker, Claire Boles, Emily Lane (capt), Eve Higgins, Aoife Doyle, Megan Burns.

Subs: Stephanie Carroll, Anna Doyle, Katie Heffernan, Lucinda Kinghan, Dorothy Wall.

Spain 12 Ireland 14, Dynamo Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Emily Lane, Megan Burns; Cons: Eve Higgins
HT: Spain 5 Ireland 7

Team: Lucinda Kinghan, Kathy Baker, Claire Boles, Emily Lane (capt), Eve Higgins, Aoife Doyle, Megan Burns.

Subs: Stephanie Carroll, Anna Doyle, Katie Heffernan, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Dorothy Wall.

Day 1 Round-Up – Lane And Higgins Lead Ireland Women Through To Quarter-Finals

Sunday, July 21 –

CUP QUARTER-FINAL: Belgium 7 Ireland 14, Dynamo Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Emily Lane, Eve Higgins; Cons: Eve Higgins 2
HT: Belgium 0 Ireland 7

Team: Lucinda Kinghan, Kathy Baker, Claire Boles, Emily Lane (capt), Eve Higgins, Aoife Doyle, Megan Burns.

Subs: Stephanie Carroll, Anna Doyle, Katie Heffernan, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Dorothy Wall.

CUP SEMI-FINAL: France 34 Ireland 19, Dynamo Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Claire Boles, Anna Doyle 2; Cons: Eve Higgins 2
HT: France 17 Ireland 5

Team: Lucinda Kinghan, Kathy Baker, Claire Boles, Emily Lane (capt), Eve Higgins, Aoife Doyle, Megan Burns.

Subs: Stephanie Carroll, Anna Doyle, Katie Heffernan, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Dorothy Wall.

BRONZE FINAL: Ireland 14 Poland 40, Dynamo Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Claire Boles; Cons: Eve Higgins 2
HT: Ireland 0 Poland 26

Team: Lucinda Kinghan, Kathy Baker, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Emily Lane (capt), Eve Higgins, Aoife Doyle, Anna Doyle.

Subs: Claire Boles, Megan Burns, Stephanie Carroll, Katie Heffernan, Dorothy Wall.

The full pools, results and final standings are available on the Rugby Europe tournament page.

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 (4th Place/14 Points)