The Ireland Women’s Sevens team, sponsored by TritonLake, added another historic achievement to this season’s ledger by winning the Krakow 7s title, beating hosts Poland 21-17 in the final.
Aiden McNulty’s side went unbeaten across the weekend, qualifying for their first ever Rugby Europe Sevens Championship final and picking up the trophy thanks to a late try from captain Lucy Mulhall.
In a year in which they had breakthrough silver and bronze success on the World Series, the Krakow gold comes as a timely boost ahead of the Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifying tournament in Bucharest in two weeks’ time.
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, who sat out last week’s first European leg in Lisbon, was back in terrific form with 10 tries. She scored in every game and ran in a hat-trick in the 26-0 semi-final win over Spain.
Coach McNulty continues to build squad depth and competition for places having given debuts last week to Méabh Deely, Ella Roberts, Enya Breen and Maeve Liston, the latter pair involved again this weekend.
It has been encouraging to see Anna McGann, Lucinda Kinghan, Claire Boles and the 19-year-old Vicky Elmes Kinlan making the most of their game-time. Megan Burns also showed her finishing skills with six tries across the two legs.
The Ireland Women, who accumulated 34 points across the two tournaments, finished second in the overall Rugby Europe Championship Series – they were also silver medal winners in 2017 – behind first-time champions Poland (38 points). Scotland (32) completed the podium places.
It has been a very good summer so far for the IRFU Sevens Programmes, with the Ireland Men recently crowned Trophy champions after back-to-back tournament wins, while the Women’s side reigned supreme in Poland.
Both squads are off to Romania on July 16-17 with the twin goal of qualifying for the World Cup, which takes place in Cape Town in September. Ireland’s two Under-18 teams are also in action this month in their respective Rugby Europe Championships.
Familiar rivals Ireland and Spain played out a cagey opening to this morning’s semi-final, the girls in green dominating territory but unable to force a score until the fifth minute.
Mulhall pinched possession in a tackle, drove forward and released Murphy Crowe who broke into the 22 and did well to ground the ball despite Beatriz Dominguez’s last-ditch tackle.
Ireland struck again just past the half-time hooter, a pacy attack unleashing Murphy Crowe who brought them downfield and from the ruck, Mulhall cleverly broke down the blindside to score in the left corner.
Leading 12-0 at the turnaround, a McGann turnover penalty saw Ireland maintain the momentum. Scores were hard to come by, but once again Murphy Crowe’s pace proved too much for the Spanish defence.
Replacement Heffernan fed the Tipperary native off a scrum and she outpaced Ingrid Algar on the outside to make it 19-0 with just over 90 seconds remaining.
Ireland wrapped up a convincing triumph with a late fourth try, their star winger completing her hat-trick by handing off Raquel Garcia after Erin King had dived on turnover ball on the ground.
Poland came with an early surge in the Cup decider, a well-worked attack seeing Anna Klichowska cross out wide on the left for an unconverted third-minute try.
McGann made an important tackle to stop a promising Polish attack, but once Ireland were given a sniff in attack, they were able to pick off two crucial scores.
Luck was on their side when Burns lost the ball in contact near halfway, Murphy Crowe were quickly on the scene to collect a favourable bounce and sprint clear for a try converted by Mulhall.
The battle for possession intensified, Ireland seizing scrappy ball and swiftly returning to the Polish 22 where King, an impressively consistent performer at just 18, neatly jinked past two defenders to make it 14-5 at the break.
Although Murphy Crowe did well to defend a dangerous kick through early in the second half, Poland replied by winning a turnover penalty. Some smart passing put the strong-running Klichowska over for her second five-pointer.
With their lead cut to four points, Ireland came under further pressure as the Polish side – roared on by a partisan home crowd – won the restart and Natalia Pamieta managed to slice through to score from the right.
Poland captain Karolina Jaszczyszyn converted from straight in front with just under three minutes remaining, yet there was no panic from the girls in green who won back the high, hanging restart through Mulhall.
Just on as a replacement, Boles carried powerfully and Stacey Flood craftily put a well-weighted kick downfield where Murphy Crowe was first to reach it.
Kinghan and Elmes Kinlan also added energy off the bench, helping to retain possession in the Polish 22 before Mulhall brilliantly weaved past two defenders, including a diving Klichowska, to score the match-winning try.
There were a tense few moments from the restart, Poland forcing a penalty in their own half but Murphy Crowe’s hard work at next breakdown won the decision for Ireland and Mulhall gleefully found touch to seal the victory.
— Rugby Europe (@rugby_europe) July 3, 2022
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2022 Rugby Europe Sevens Championship – Leg 2, Krakow, Poland, July 1-3, 2022):
Claire Boles (Railway Union RFC)
Enya Breen (UL Bohemian RFC)
Megan Burns (Blackrock College RFC)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union RFC)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union RFC)
Katie Heffernan (Railway Union RFC)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union RFC)
Erin King (Old Belvedere RFC)
Lucinda Kinghan (Railway Union RFC/DCU RFC)
Vicky Elmes Kinlan (Wicklow RFC)
Maeve Liston (Blackrock College RFC)
Anna McGann (Railway Union RFC)
Lucy Mulhall (Wicklow RFC) (capt)
RUGBY EUROPE SEVENS CHAMPIONSHIP – KRAKOW 7s RESULTS:
Friday, July 1 –
IRELAND 40 CZECHIA 12, Stadion Miejski im. Henryka Reymana – Watch Replay
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 2, Anna McGann, Lucy Mulhall, Eve Higgins, Megan Burns; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 5
Czechia: Tries: Julie Dolezilova, Tereza Bathova; Con: Julie Dolezilova
HT: Ireland 21 Czechia 7
Team: Erin King, Eve Higgins, Anna McGann, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Megan Burns, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.
Subs used: Claire Boles, Vicky Elmes Kinlan, Maeve Liston, Lucinda Kinghan, Enya Breen.
IRELAND 38 ROMANIA 7, Stadion Miejski im. Henryka Reymana – Watch Replay
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Anna McGann 2, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 2, Eve Higgins, Stacey Flood; Cons: Enya Breen 4
Romania: Try: Elena Juncanariu; Con: Emilia Vitiziu
HT: Ireland 14 Romania 7
Team: Erin King, Claire Boles, Lucinda Kinghan, Maeve Liston, Enya Breen, Anna McGann, Vicky Elmes Kinlan.
Subs used: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Eve Higgins, Katie Heffernan, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt).
Saturday, July 2 –
POLAND 0 IRELAND 21, Stadion Miejski im. Henryka Reymana – Watch Replay
Scorers: Poland: –
Ireland: Tries: Megan Burns, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Stacey Flood; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 3
HT: Poland 0 Ireland 21
Team: Anna McGann, Eve Higgins, Erin King, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Megan Burns, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.
Subs used: Katie Heffernan, Vicky Elmes Kinlan.
IRELAND 38 GERMANY 7, Stadion Miejski im. Henryka Reymana – Watch Replay
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Vicky Elmes Kinlan 2, Eve Higgins, Lucinda Kinghan, Lucy Mulhall, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe; Cons: Enya Breen 3, Lucy Mulhall
Germany: Try: Gesine Adler; Con: Manja Bechtel
HT: Ireland 14 Germany 7
Team: Lucinda Kinghan, Maeve Liston, Claire Boles, Katie Heffernan, Enya Breen, Megan Burns, Vicky Elmes Kinlan.
Subs used: Eve Higgins, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Stacey Flood.
Sunday, July 3 –
IRELAND 26 SPAIN 0, Stadion Miejski im. Henryka Reymana – Watch Replay
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 3, Lucy Mulhall; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 3
HT: Ireland 12 Spain 0
Team: Lucinda Kinghan, Claire Boles, Erin King, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Megan Burns, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.
Subs used: Anna McGann, Katie Heffernan, Maeve Liston, Vicky Elmes Kinlan.
IRELAND 21 POLAND 17, Stadion Miejski im. Henryka Reymana – Watch Replay
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Erin King, Lucy Mulhall; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 3
Poland: Tries: Anna Klichowska 2, Natalia Pamieta; Con: Karolina Jaszczyszyn
HT: Ireland 14 Poland 5
Team: Anna McGann, Katie Heffernan, Erin King, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Megan Burns, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.
Subs used: Claire Boles, Lucinda Kinghan, Vicky Elmes Kinlan.