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'After 11 years as a player and this is my seventh year as a coach - I'm used to pressure'

Tom Tierney was confident of achieving success with the Ireland women’s team.

Tom Tierney led the Irish women to the Six Nations title in his first season in charge.
Tom Tierney led the Irish women to the Six Nations title in his first season in charge.
Image: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

THE IRELAND WOMEN’S team took to the field in Scotland yesterday knowing that a 27-point win would be enough for their second Six Nations title in three years. It wasn’t an impossible task against a poor Scottish side but coach Tom Tierney wasn’t taking anything for granted.

He prepared his team to expect an onslaught from the home side and while it didn’t materialise in the end, that pre-match attitude ensured that the Irish team didn’t get complacent.

“We prepared for the worst case scenario,” Tierney said.

“The girls were just focused on doing their job but we have to be honest, Scotland were very poor. We will take that any day. The excitement and worry the previous day with the men, we could have done without that and after 20 minutes we knew that as long as we kept it between the ditches we were going to win and win well.”

And win well they did, with the Ireland women recording a resounding 73-3 win to claim the title. Tierney was proud that his team ‘didn’t let the foot off the gas’ and while the maul was a potent weapon for his side, the mazy running of hat-trick hero Alison Miller was also a joy to watch.

This is Tierney’s first year in the job having replaced Philip Doyle after Ireland’s run to the World Cup semi-final last year. While the team has a nice blend of youth and experience, they were also hit by the retirements of Lynne Cantwell and Fiona Coghlan.

Ireland Women's Rugby Media Event Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

And when Doyle left, so did assistant coaches Peter Bracken and Greg McWilliams so there wasn’t as much continuity in place as Tierney might have liked. He admitted that it was a somewhat daunting role to undertake.

“After 11 years as a player and this is my seventh year as a coach – I’m used to pressure,” Tierney said.

“Sometimes it goes for you and sometimes it doesn’t go for you and thankfully it went for me yesterday. All the credit is due to the players. They have been really tuned into the work over the last three months and they should be very proud.”

The backdrop to the Irish women’s preparation was, of course, the Six Nations finale. Like Tierney’s side, Joe Schmidt’s men needed to beat Scotland by over 20 points and the Ireland men delivered in dramatic fashion.

Tierney said that rather than block out the rugby on Saturday, his side were encouraged by it.

“We were all concious of the matches,” Tierney said.

“We watched the first game and then had our training session and then watched the Ireland and England game. The girls just sat down and said ‘look at how many points all the teams put on them’ and if we can do the same and look after the defensive side of things, we are in with a great chance. 27 points is not insurmountable and it didn’t prove to be.”

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