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'She is outrageous' - coach Griggs sings praises of Ireland's teenage star, Parsons

The Ireland winger scored one try and made another as Ireland beat Italy today to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

Image: Giuseppe Fama/INPHO

ADAM GRIGGS CUT a relaxed figure in the aftermath of Ireland’s tight 15-7 win over Italy this afternoon, despite the enormity of the occasion.

Defeat would have been a disaster, victory keeps their World Cup qualification dream alive. When, at one stage, Ireland trailed 7-5 and had a player still in the sin-bin, he was entitled to fret and panic.

Instead he did neither. Then again, it is easier to stay calm when you have a world class operator in your mix. That’s Beibhinn Parsons, still just 19, but lethal when a ball is put in her hands.

“She is outrageous,” said Griggs, “and she had a really good game today. She is just so hard to beat one on one and when she attacks, she is able to use her feet to make the most of her acceleration.

“We spoke during the week about the backs having to execute, to draw their defender before delivering their pass, and I am really happy with how clinical they were with the two finishes for the tries.

“It was a good confidence booster for the players.”

stacey-flood-kicks Stacey Flood shone for Ireland today. Source: Giuseppe Fama/INPHO

This win certainly boosts morale. With Scotland still to come, another victory – coupled with a bonus-point – should be enough to see Ireland qualify for the World Cup but one eye will also be kept on Spain’s game against Italy, as both countries also remain in contention. Even so, after the dismay which followed last week’s defeat to the Spanish, today’s win was vital for Griggs’ team.

One period in particular summed up the Irish spirit, when in a five minute spell just before half-time, they resisted surges of Italian attacks to break out of their 22 and get to the break with a five-point lead.

Griggs said: “Those minutes just before the break were huge because we got a couple of key turnovers; Stacey Flood was also on the end of a couple of those. I thought she had a huge game defensively as a ten.

“After half-time we had really good ball and we got ourselves in an area of the field which allowed us play with tempo. Defence was our ultimate goal in terms of keeping them out but at the same time our transition into attack was pleasing.”

The set-piece remains an area of concern – especially the line-out – although the Ireland scrum did improve today after  a dodgy period in the first 20 minutes.

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In the end victory came down to spirit, according to team captain, Ciara Griffin.

“We are happy we got the result, happy we put in the performance; we did a lot of hard work to make sure we were ready to go and thankfully we got the result we wanted,” said Griffin. “We fought for every ball, fought for every inch, put our bodies in where it hurts.

“There was pressure. We talked about how you use pressure for your advantage; we talked about putting that pressure back on the opposition.

“We dealt with it well this week. Obviously the job is not done, we are one step closer and we will be focussing hugely this week on Scotland, starting from tomorrow. We are just happy that we got the job done that we wanted to get done. We are not getting too carried away.”

When asked what was the key factor in their victory, Griffin’s answer was succinct: “It was just hunger – we didn’t stop working as a squad, as a group, all 28 all week. We put our best foot forward and having that hunger and the execution that goes with it, it bodes well for us as a squad.”

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Garry Doyle

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