Ireland Women head coach Adam Griggs believes the quality in his squad stands them in good stead ahead of the Women’s Six Nations resumption next month, having been boosted by the return of former skipper Claire Molloy.
Molloy – who was a member of Ireland’s Championship winning teams in 2013 and 2015 – announced in August 2019 that she was taking a sabbatical to focus on her medical career.
But the 32-year-old will now link up with Griggs as part of a 34-strong squad called up for a two-day training camp at the IRFU High Performance Centre, as Ireland step up their preparations for their Round 4 clash at home to Italy in Dublin on October 25.
Griggs’ side currently sit third in the standings after three matches, having seen off Scotland and Wales 18-14 and 31-12 respectively in their opening two ties, before falling 27-0 to defending champions England last time out.
While the availability of 69-time capped Molloy is a welcome fillip for Ireland ahead of a busy Autumn schedule, back row duo Edel McMahon and Claire McLaughlin, and second row Aoife McDermott, have been ruled out of the Six Nations period through injury.
Yet while Griggs acknowledges the trio’s absence is a blow to his Championship plans, the former Leinster Women coach is confident his side can finish the series strongly against the Azzurre, and away to France in their final fixture.
“While it’s an unfortunate setback and timing for Edel, Claire and Aoife, they are all highly motivated and diligent players who I know will get stuck into the rehab and get themselves back fit and in contention for the World Cup qualifiers in December,” Griggs said.
“The squad have made major strides over the last year and there is healthy competition for places. Each two-day camp now gives us an opportunity to focus on lifting our intensity and the quality of our training, where we will challenge the players to replicate match-like demands so that come the end of October we are ready to perform and keep the standards we set out at the start of this competition.”
Ireland Squad for Women’s Six Nations
Enya Breen (UL Bohemian/Munster)
Michelle Claffey (Blackrock College/Leinster)
Eimear Considine (UL Bohemian/Munster)
Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemian/Munster)
Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster)
Lauren Delany (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby)
Aoife Doyle (Railway Union/Munster)
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock College/Leinster)
Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/Leinster)
Claire Keohane (Railway Union/Munster)
Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union/Leinster)
Ellen Murphy (Blackrock College/Leinster)
Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Beibhinn Parsons (Blackrock College/Connacht)
Laura Sheehan (UL Bohemian/Munster)
Shannon Touhey (Suttonians/Connacht)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Judy Bobbett (Blackrock College/Leinster)
Anna Caplice (Harlequins/IQ Rugby)
Ciara Cooney (Wasps /IQ Rugby)
Victoria Dabanovich O’Mahony (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Laura Feely (Blackrock College/Connacht)
Nichola Fryday (Blackrock College/Connacht)
Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemian/Munster)
Neve Jones (Malone/Ulster)
Leah Lyons (Harlequins/IQ Rugby)
Claire Molloy (Wasps /IQ Rugby)
Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps/IQ Rugby)
Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College/Leinster)
Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union/Leinster)
Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemian/Munster)
Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster)
Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College/Munster)