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Deely Excited To Be Playing In Dublin, Cork And Belfast

Meabh Deely and Marine Menager 1/4/2023

Ireland full-back Méabh Deely gets past France's Marine Menager during the second round clash in Cork ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

This is an important year for Irish Women’s Rugby as the senior team aim to secure qualification for the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup in England. They’ve got an opportunity to book their spot at the competition through the upcoming 2024 Six Nations campaign, which begins for them against France in Le Mans on Saturday, March 23.

Ireland have three home games, in three different venues. Their opening home fixture of the Championship sees the girls in green welcome Italy to the RDS on Sunday, March 31 (kick-off 3pm), before returning to last season’s base in Virgin Media Park for round 3 as they go head-to-head with Wales in Cork on Saturday, April 13 (kick-off 4.45pm).

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Ireland then travel to face England at Twickenham on Saturday, April 20 (kick-off 2.15pm), before finishing their country tour in Belfast against Scotland at Kingspan Stadium in their fifth and final game on Saturday, April 27 (kick-off 2.30pm).

England and France have already sealed their place for the 2025 tournament, so a third-place finish on the Six Nations table could potentially prove enough to claim Ireland’s place back on the biggest stage.

Current Irish International, Méabh Deely believes 2024 is a huge year for everyone involved.

“As a team, we want to qualify for that World Cup, we can do that this year through the Six Nations and the WXVs, the two competitions that will enable us to qualify.

“Doing it in the Six Nations is a big goal of ours, but if we don’t, it’s about building towards the WXV competition, making sure we get placed well enough and are able to compete in the WXV 2, helping us secure qualification for that World Cup”, Deely explained.

“That’s a big goal for us, I suppose, it’s the wider goal. It all starts with us doing well in this upcoming Six Nations. We also know that we are a different team to what we were last year. Scott (Bemand) is still a relatively new coach for us, so we’re still growing into that. Growing into what Scott wants us to be is important for this Six Nations, but we have that World Cup qualification in the back of our minds too”

Deely, who has made 10 caps for her country, making her debut in the 2022 Summer tour of Japan, is excited to play in new home grounds.
“I’ve never played in the RDS or Kingspan Stadium before so that’s really exciting for me. Cork is great, but it’s good to be able to bring the games to different spots around the country this year. I’m looking forward to it”, she said.

Bemand’s team are eager to build on the success of the WXV 3 campaign, where they enjoyed a clean sweep of victories on route to the title. They had dominant wins against Kazakhstan (109-0) and Columbia (64-3), before staging a courageous comeback to beat Spain (15-13) in a winner-takes-all final game.

The players of Ireland celebrate victory with the WXV 3 trophy (Photo by Christopher Pike – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

23-year-old Deely played all 240 minutes of that tournament, scoring 14 points. She admits that those wins helped them generate confidence within the group after what was a tough 2023 Six Nations.

“It was tough after the last Six Nations. For a lot of girls, including myself, it was our first taste of the Six Nations, it was a difficult experience,” the Ballinasloe native reflected.

“In saying that, it probably hardens you up for the future. I suppose this Six Nations will be a lot different to last year. To be honest, I don’t know what to expect, but I have confidence in this group.

“Dubai was really important for us, I’m really glad we had that tournament. The same goes for the Celtic Challenge, I think it has really helped grow some players. Personally, I feel more ready this time around and I think that might be the case for the other young players in the team”

Meabh Deely 28/9/2023

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

The versatile backline player lined out at out-half for the opening two games of the Celtic Challenge, before returning to her usual fullback position for the last three encounters. She’s comfortable to play in either role.

“I don’t mind where they put me. I played all my underage rugby and my first few senior years at out-half. I only really transferred to the back three before I went on that tour to Japan.

“When we went over to Dubai, I knew I was going to be an out-half option because Dannah (O’Brien) and Nicole (Fowley) were the other two 10s, and unfortunately Nicole got injured.

“I was well-prepared going over there, knowing I might have to cover the position if needed. I think I played 20 minutes against Colombia at 10. I love playing there, but I also love being a fullback, I don’t mind going between the two positions”, she added.