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Sam Monaghan and Nicole Cronin.
Sam Monaghan and Nicole Cronin.

Ireland hope key players Monaghan and Cronin will be fit for Scotland clash

There was a boost for Ireland with Sene Naoupu’s red card being rescinded.
Apr 27th 2022, 7:00 AM 1,992 7

IRELAND ARE STILL hopeful that influential second row Sam Monaghan and out-half Nicole Cronin will recover from injuries in time to feature against Scotland in their final game of the Women’s Six Nations on Saturday in Belfast.

Munster playmaker Cronin was forced off in the first half of last weekend’s heavy defeat to England but hasn’t yet been ruled out of the Scotland clash.

Wasps lock Monaghan missed the England meeting due to a calf injury, with Ireland hoping she can make a return this Saturday and pick up where she left off, having been superb in the opening three games of the championship.

However, wing/fullback Eimear Considine will definitely miss out after suffering a potentially serious knee injury during the England game.

“Nicole is being reviewed daily,” said Ireland assistant coach Niamh Briggs yesterday.

“We’re hopeful she might be involved this weekend, similar to Sam Monaghan. Eimear has had a scan and we’re awaiting results on that, but she will be unavailable for this weekend, unfortunately.”

Young back row Aoife Wafer, who made her debut in the win over Italy three weekends ago before missing the England game, also remains sidelined.

There was a big boost for Ireland yesterday with news that a disciplinary panel decided not to uphold Sene Naoupu’s red card against England, ruling it should only have been yellow, so the experienced centre is free to play again this weekend.

With Cronin still a possibility to feature against the Scots and Naoupu now free to do so, it means McWilliams could go into that game with a backline very similar to the one that started against England.

Ireland had lost five starting backs ahead of the England clash due to 7s commitments, but Briggs was delighted with the efforts of those who came into the team.

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“I was excited about the challenge,” said Briggs. “It didn’t really feel like it was a new backline. Obviously, Sene [Naoupu] has come into the squad the previous week for a camp, but she’s an incredibly experienced player so to have her in there was great.

“Her direction and her ability to help the younger girls, especially the likes of Molly [Scuffil-McCabe] on her first cap, who I thought was really, really good. It was a really tough day for her. I thought she managed and coped really, really well.

“We knew the test that we were going to be up against. We understood that we were going to be put under pressure to have a huge amount of possession. It was going to be pretty limited and we tried to come up with a way that would probably suit us as much as the fact that we hadn’t been together for a huge amount of time. It was exciting.

“We got to know the likes of Niamh Byrne and Molly, Aoife Doyle as well, really well in terms of having not had a huge amount of time with them, but it was great.

“It’s just building for us now. We’re just building a squad that we can go forward with and while we add in players every now and then, you know that you’ve got a core that you’ve enjoyed working with and are willing to continue to develop.”

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Murray Kinsella

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