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Sheehan Scores Debut Try In Ireland Women’s Defeat To Eagles
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Sheehan Scores Debut Try In Ireland Women’s Defeat To Eagles

Sheehan Scores Debut Try In Ireland Women’s Defeat To Eagles

The Ireland Women’s team fell to a 19-10 defeat at the hands of a physical USA side in a fiercely-contested November Test at Energia Park this afternoon.

Despite tries in each half from wingers Laura Sheehan, who ran in a fine effort on her international debut, and Eimear Considine, Adam Griggs’ charges were second best against an Eagles outfit that showed the benefits of recent outings against New Zealand and England.

The USA finished off their tour with a well-earned victory which was built on first half tries from Kimber Rozier and Kaitlyn Broughton, with fellow back Meya Bizer crossing the whitewash on the hour mark before Considine claimed a late consolation score for Ireland.

Stepping up for their first international since the end of last season’s Six Nations, the Ireland Women were quick out of the blocks as they looked to establish some early territory. Second row Aoife McDermott called the lineouts for the first time and provided her side with a formidable set piece option.

As Ireland edged closer to the right corner from a penalty, powerful carrier Lindsay Peat almost made the breakthrough. Another penalty set up a maul opportunity but the USA managed to steal the ball and draw clear of their own try-line.

The difference between the sides was the US’s clinical edge when in sight of the whitewash. A surging run up the right wing from Jennine Duncan brought them into the Irish 22, with the returning Considine getting across from the opposite wing to make a crucial tackle.

However, a subsequent penalty saw scrum half Carly Waters go from a tap and captain Kate Zackary spun in a tackle to offload for supporting centre Rozier to dive in just to the right of the posts. She converted her 13th-minute try for a 7-0 lead.

Considine almost replied five minutes later but out-half Nikki Caughey was adjudged to have knocked forward prior to releasing the Clare native. Despite some early promise, and the backing of another vocal home crowd in Donnybrook, Ireland struggled to create sustained pressure in attack.

In contrast, the Americans’ athleticism and impact at the breakdown and in contact saw them grow in confidence, particularly with strong-running number 8 Jordan Gray-Matyas on the prowl. Ireland captain Ciara Griffin was equally effective with a clutch of important turnovers.

Scrum half Ailsa Hughes scampered back to cover a dangerous kick through, and Ireland had to reshuffle their pack past the half hour mark when Railway Union lock Ciara Cooney succumbed to injury. Nichola Fryday, an Offaly woman like Hughes and Michelle Claffey, was sent on in her place.

The visitors wore down the Irish defence with a series of pick-and-goes before sweeping play out to the right wing where Broughton was tackled by her opposite number, Ireland’s new full-back Lauren Delany, but she bounced up quickly to reach over the line with referee Rebecca Mahoney confirming the score which went unconverted.

A timely five-pointer lifted Ireland before half-time, closing the gap to 12-5 in the process. Turnover ball was shifted wide through the hands of Hughes, Claire Molloy and Claffey who released the fleet-footed Sheehan to evade Duncan from 40 metres out and ground the ball wide on the left.

The winger’s excellent 38th-minute try went unconverted, with Caughey’s conversion attempt just dropping short. The momentum appeared to be swinging in Ireland’s favour but, on the resumption, the USA once again proved a tough nut to crack.

They made the greater attacking inroads in the third quarter, with the notably exception of a Sheehan break out of defence. Nicole Cronin was introduced at scrum half, cleverly winning a penalty at a ruck as the Irish defence came under further pressure.

The USA’s third try arrived bang on 60 minutes, their forwards driving up close with impressive flanker Rachel Johnston exploding through and gaining important ground before centre Bizer was fed to convert a two-on-one overlap near the left corner flag.

Rozier added a terrific conversion from the touchline for a 19-5 scoreline, leaving Ireland with it all to do. Griggs sent on Portlaoise youngster Emma Hooban for her first cap at hooker, alongside Harlequins recruit Leah Lyons, and Ballinasloe starlet Beibhinn Parsons slotted in on the right wing.

That took the number of Ireland debuts on the day to four with Parsons, at the tender age of 16 years and 353 days, becoming the youngest female or male Ireland senior international player. Despite having to wait until the 73rd minute for an opportunity to shine, the teenage sensation were determined to make her mark.

There was increased forward momentum from Ireland in the closing stages with Molloy standing out, although they were twice denied a pushover try by stubborn Eagles defence. Parsons charged infield from her wing to almost break their resistance, her pace beating two defenders but the gifted Ardscoil Mhuire student was held up for a five-metre scrum.

Ireland’s persistence was finally rewarded past the 80-minute mark, Considine finishing well to the left of the posts after replacement Jeamie Deacon’s quickly-taken penalty and a nicely delayed final pass from Claffey. Cronin’s conversion attempt was off target, leaving Ireland with a nine-point reversal to review ahead of next Saturday’s trip to Twickenham to face England.

Referee: Rebecca Mahoney (New Zealand)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Lauren Delany (Firwood Waterloo Ladies/IQ Rugby); Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster), Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Michelle Claffey (Blackrock/Leinster), Laura Sheehan (UL Bohemians/Munster); Nikki Caughey (Railway Union/Leinster), Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/Leinster); Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster), Sarah Mimnagh (Richmond/IQ Rugby), Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians/Munster), Aoife McDermott (Railway Union/Leinster), Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster), Edel McMahon (Galwegians/Connacht), Claire Molloy (Wasps), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt). Replacements used: Nichola Fryday (Galwegians/Connacht) for Cooney (32 mins), Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians/Munster) for Hughes (46), Emma Hooban (St. Mary's/Leinster) for Mimnagh, Leah Lyons (Harlequins) for Reidy (both 56), Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock/Leinster) for McMahon (58), Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe/Connacht) for Delany, Claire McLaughlin (Old Belvedere/Ulster) for Caughey, Laura Feely (Galwegians/Connacht) for Peat (all 73).  

Away Team

Kaitlyn Broughton (Atlanta Harlequins); Kelsi Stockert (Women's Sevens Residency), Meya Bizer (Women's Sevens Residency), Kimber Rozier (Beantown Rugby), Jennine Duncan (Seattle Saracens); Gabby Cantorna (Glendale Merlins), Carly Waters (New York Rugby); Catie Benson (Life West Gladiatrix), Katy Augustyn (Berkeley All Blues), Nick James (Houston Athletic); Stacey Bridges (Beantown Rugby), Kristine Sommer (Harlequins/Seattle Saracens); Rachel Johnson (Oregon Sports Union), Kate Zackary (San Diego Surfers) (capt), Jordan Gray-Matyas (Women’s Sevens Residency). Replacements used: McKenzie Hawkins (Lindenwood University) for Cantorna (56 mins), Tiana A'au (Central Washington University) for Augustyn, Joyce Taufa (Lindenwood University) for Sommer (both 61), Azniv Nalbandian (Penn State University) for James (69), Alycia Washington (New York Rugby) for Gray-Matyas (74). Not used: Megan Foster (San Diego Surfers), Anna Karen Pedraza (Lindenwood University), Evan Hoese (Berkeley All Blues), McKenzie Hawkins (Lindenwood University)..

Match Scorers

Home Team

Tries: Laura Sheehan, Eimear Considine

Away Team

Tries: Kimber Rozier, Kaitlyn Broughton, Meya Bizer; Cons: Kimber Rozier 2