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Ireland will have to dig deeper into depth chart for Six Nations finale

Greg McWilliams’ side have a six-day turnaround after the toughest game of the championship.

Eimear Considine suffered a knee injury.
Eimear Considine suffered a knee injury.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

IRELAND HEAD COACH Greg McWilliams will have to dig deeper into his depth chart ahead of Saturday’s final Six Nations clash against Scotland.

The hope is that home advantage in Belfast will help Ireland to secure their second win of the Six Nations against the Scots, who were beaten by Italy on Saturday and have also won only once so far.

Ireland have just a six-day turnaround from yesterday’s 69-0 thumping at the hands of England in Leicester, a game in which the physical toll was heavy.

Flanker Edel McMahon was at the forefront of the effort with chart-leading totals of 22 tackles and 10 carries, but many of her team-mates had similarly hefty workloads against an English side that enjoyed physical dominance.

Ireland are also set to lose a number of players for the Scotland clash, having already seen seven squad members leave for the Ireland 7s set-up ahead of the England game. Five of those players were starters in the Irish backline and now McWilliams will have to go through another rejig of his backs.

Left wing Eimear Considine was forced off on a stretcher in the final quarter of the England game and was pictured post-match on crutches with ice and bandaging around her knee.

Out-half Nicole Cronin was replaced in the first half after her back seized up and is also a doubt for the Scotland game.

“Eimear is getting tested by the medical team and we’ll get word back in the next three to four hours,” said McWilliams post-match.

nicole-cronin-goes-off-injured Out-half Nicole Cronin was also injured. Source: Evan Treacy/INPHO

“Realistically now we are planning for Scotland without Eimear and possibly Nicole. Just another challenge, we’ve got hit with a few in the Six Nations.”

There is also the possibility of centre Sene Naoupu being hit with a suspension for the high tackle that saw her red-carded in the second half against England.

It may all mean Ireland being shorn of another three starting backs to go along with the five players who have already left for the 7s.

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If Cronin doesn’t recover in time, it could be that Enya Breen wears the number 10 shirt for Ireland, having moved into out-half after Cronin’s injury yesterday.

With Considine likely to miss out in the back three and Naoupu a possibility to be absent from midfield, the likes of Vicky Irwin, Shannon Touhey, Nikki Caughey, Niamh Byrne, Natasja Behan, and Laura Sheehan are set to come into contention to feature against Scotland.

McWilliams will hope to be boosted by the return of second row Sam Monaghan, who had been outstanding in the Six Nations before missing out against England due to a calf injury, while back row Aoife Wafer missed out with a hamstring issue.

The Ireland boss needs as many hands on deck as possible ahead of the crucial finale of his side’s Six Nations campaign. A second win would certainly see Ireland finish on a high.

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Murray Kinsella

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