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Ireland Off To A Good Start At U-18 Women’s Six Nations Festival

Ireland Off To A Good Start At U-18 Women’s Six Nations Festival

Ireland made an encouraging start on the opening day of the Under-18 Women’s Six Nations Festival at Wellington College in England.

Larissa Muldoon’s young squad secured Ireland’s first ever U-18 Women’s Six Nations Festival win, overcoming Italy 10-0, and also put it up to a strong France team in a four-tries-to-three defeat.

The event in Berkshire will continue to provide a crucial step in strengthening the foundations for future generations as well as giving fans the chance to see the future stars of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations in action.


To promote an appropriate and competitive playing environment, teams will each play four 35-minute fixtures across the first two match days followed by one full 70-minute fixture on the final match day.

This format allows each team to play one another, every player to start at least one fixture and each Union to benchmark the progress of their female athletes across the competitive spectrum.


Day 1 (Friday, April 7 at Wellington College) –

England 10 Wales 0
Scotland 0 England 21
Wales 17 Scotland 7
France 24 Ireland 15
Italy 0 France 55
Ireland 10 Italy 0

Day 2 (Tuesday, April 11 at Wellington College) –

Scotland v Ireland, 10am
Ireland v England, 11am
France v Scotland, 12pm
England v Italy, 3pm
Wales v France, 4pm
Italy v Wales, 5pm

Day 3 (Saturday, April 15 at Wellington College) –

Italy v Scotland, 12pm
Ireland v Wales, 2.15pm
England v France, 4.30pm


Friday, April 7 –

FRANCE UNDER-18s 24 IRELAND UNDER-18s 15, Wellington College
Scorers: France: Tries: Lise Geneste, Maya Grat, Noa Coudre, Garance Merle; Cons: Charlie Gauyat 2
Ireland: Tries: Alma Obehi Atagamen, Kelly Burke, Roisin Maher

France have developed a strong Under-18 programme in recent years, winning European Sevens titles and emerging unbeaten at last year’s inaugural U-18 Six Nations Festival where they beat Ireland 26-0 over 35 minutes and England 72-10 in a full game.

Muldoon’s side came under immediate pressure, a Caitriona Finn turnover keeping France out until Brive number 8 Lise Geneste powered over from the resulting scrum to open the scoring inside two minutes. Charlie Gauyat added a fine conversion from the right.

Recovering from that early setback, Ireland showed the necessary composure with their scrum looking solid and Abby Healy, Finn and May Goulding trying to make the most of some hard-fought possession near halfway.

However, a quick turnover and Gauyat’s pace when breaking through midfield eventually led to winger Maya Grat crossing with six-and-a-half minutes gone. 12-0 was the deficit.

Again, the girls in green reacted well, Molly Boote scrapping hard for a turnover, and Orla Wafer and Goulding linking well off a scrum to allow Tullow winger Katie Corrigan to stretch her legs for the first time in attack.

France won two turnover penalties in quick succession, but Beth Buttimer pinched possession back and prop Lily Morris also showed her breakdown skills to force a penalty and a five-metre lineout.

Roisin Maher tidied up the set piece at the rear and a few phases later, Balbriggan lock Alma Obehi Atagamen reached out for the line in impressive fashion. Her try, coming on the quarter hour mark, went unconverted with Healy off target from the left.

Ireland U18 Women v France U18 Women

France hit back swiftly to lead 19-5, nice hands across the back-line from a quick tap put centre Noa Coudre over from the edge of the Irish 22. Gauyat added the extras with a well-struck conversion from out wide.

The scores were coming thick and fast now, Ireland regaining territory with some clever kicking and hooker Kelly Burke connected with Saskia Wycherley at a lineout 22 metres out.

A brilliantly-executed maul did the rest, Maher and Obehi Atagamen both to the fore as Burke was driven over to make it a nine-point game.

Healy was unfortunate with her conversion which bounced away off the near right hand post, and despite some tenacious defending near their own line from Emily Foley and Buttimer, France managed to find space out wide for a decisive 25th-minute try.

Following a lineout steal, Guillaume Lafont’s charges put pace on the ball and created the opportunity for full-back Garance Merle to cross. However, Ireland made sure they ended the match with a strong finish.

Wingers Corrigan and Foley both threatened before Creggs tighthead Maher – fed by Buttimer from a tapped penalty – did really well to turn out of a double tackle and ground the ball, with her Connacht colleague Ailish Quinn providing support.

Luck was not on out-half Healy’s side once more, as her conversion attempt hit the woodwork. Ireland avoided a late concession thanks to some sterling work from Foley, Wafer and Boote to hold up Iness Zeze.

Team: Hannah Clarke (Oughterard/Tuam RFC/Connacht); Katie Corrigan (Tullow RFC/Leinster), Molly Boote (Connemara RFC/Connacht), Caitriona Finn (UL Bohemian RFC/Ballina-Killaloe RFC/Munster), Emily Foley (Ballina RFC/Connacht); Abby Healy (Wicklow RFC/Leinster), May Goulding (Hartpury College/IQ Rugby); Lily Morris (Killarney RFC/Munster), Kelly Burke (Mullingar RFC/Leinster), Roisin Maher (Creggs RFC/Connacht), Saskia Wycherley (Bantry Bay RFC/Munster), Alma Obehi Atagamen (Balbriggan RFC/Leinster), Beth Buttimer (Fethard RFC/Munster), Ailish Quinn (Ballina RFC/Connacht), Orla Wafer (Enniscorthy RFC/Leinster).

Replacements: Grainne Burke (Ennis RFC/Munster), Ellen O’Toole (Westport RFC/Connacht), Lily Byrne (Skerries RFC/Leinster), Sarah McCormick (Ballina RFC/Connacht), Ruby Starrett (Larne RFC/Ulster), Beibhinn Gleeson (Oughterard/Tuam RFC/Connacht), Poppy Garvey (Sligo RFC/Connacht), Niamh Murphy (Cill Dara RFC/Leinster), Lucia Linn (Loughborough University/IQ Rugby/Munster), Lyndsey Clarke (Ennis RFC/Munster), Emma Brogan (Navan RFC/Leinster), Robyn O’Connor (Wexford Wanderers RFC/Leinster), Grainne Moran (Ballina RFC/Connacht).

IRELAND UNDER-18s 10 ITALY UNDER-18s 0, Wellington College
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Niamh Murphy, Beth Buttimer
Italy: –

Ireland forced the issue early on against Italy, Buttimer and Grainne Burke both carrying well before Finn tested the opposition defence with a cross-field kick. When they came knocking again, they were rewarded with the opening try.

Grainne Moran made the most out of quick ruck ball, setting up a nice link between Sarah McCormick and Poppy Garvey. They fed Cill Dara centre Niamh Murphy who expertly spun out of a tackle to score from 10 metres out.

Following a narrow miss by Finn from the tee, Ireland had to soak up some Italian pressure. McCormick led the defensive effort, and Buttimer’s counter ruck – allied to Lily Byrne’s steal on the ground – allowed Finn to clear the danger.

Tighthead Byrne was held up in the 10th minute as the Irish forwards left a try behind them. Buttimer had been thwarted from a promising maul too, following good work from Robyn O’Connor and Emma Brogan when running back an Italian kick.

Barely two minutes later, Ireland did have that second score on the board. Finn intercepted a deflected pass, then Brogan’s in-and-out running off her left wing landed Italy right back on their own line before Buttimer picked from the ruck to dot down in the left corner.

An Italian purple patch was repelled, despite the best efforts of half-backs Eva Eschylle and Sara Mannini. A close-in maul was brought to ground and Ireland maintained their shape and accuracy in defence, eventually McCormick and try scorer Murphy combining to win a turnover penalty.

Finn’s left boot grew in influence with her terrific touchfinders from penalties, but winger Lyndsey Clarke crucially lacked support during a purposeful burst down the right touchline with 13 minutes remaining.

It was a big defensive shift that secured the result for Ireland in the end, Finn producing a try-saving tackle on Mary Akosa while Lucia Linn also dug deep to win turnover ball. Still, the amount of penalties conceded in their own 22 resulted in Murphy being binned for going off her feet.

Clarke did have one last attacking chance from deep, but she was unable to get the ball away to full-back O’Connor on her outside.

Ireland’s defensive solidity was enough to see out the victory, with the hope that they can kick on again when they meet Scotland and England in back-to-back 35-minute clashes on Tuesday morning.

Team: Robyn O’Connor (Wexford Wanderers RFC/Leinster); Lyndsey Clarke (Ennis RFC/Munster), Niamh Murphy (Cill Dara RFC/Leinster), Lucia Linn (Loughborough University/IQ Rugby/Munster), Emma Brogan (Navan RFC/Leinster); Caitriona Finn (UL Bohemian RFC/Ballina-Killaloe RFC/Munster), Grainne Moran (Ballina RFC/Connacht); Grainne Burke (Ennis RFC/Munster), Ellen O’Toole (Westport RFC/Connacht), Lily Byrne (Skerries RFC/Leinster), Ruby Starrett (Larne RFC/Ulster), Sarah McCormick (Ballina RFC/Connacht), Beth Buttimer (Fethard RFC/Munster), Beibhinn Gleeson (Oughterard/Tuam RFC/Connacht), Poppy Garvey (Sligo RFC/Connacht).

Replacements: Lily Morris (Killarney RFC/Munster), Kelly Burke (Mullingar RFC/Leinster), Roisin Maher (Creggs RFC/Connacht), Saskia Wycherley (Bantry Bay RFC/Munster), Alma Obehi Atagamen (Balbriggan RFC/Leinster), Ailish Quinn (Ballina RFC/Connacht), Orla Wafer (Enniscorthy RFC/Leinster), May Goulding (Hartpury College/IQ Rugby), Abby Healy (Wicklow RFC/Leinster), Emily Foley (Ballina RFC/Connacht), Hannah Clarke (Oughterard/Tuam RFC/Connacht), Molly Boote (Connemara RFC/Connacht), Katie Corrigan (Tullow RFC/Leinster).