Win in Cork crucial for Ireland to avoid second wooden spoon smack in-a-row

Both Ireland and Wales are winless after two games in the Six Nations.

scott-bemand-speaks-to-the-team-huddle The Ireland team attending the captain's run at Musgrave Park ahead of the Wales game. Ben Brady / INPHO Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

TWO GAMES DEEP, two promising performances, and yet, Ireland are still teetering on a dangerous verge. Drop this weekend, and they are at risk of ending their Six Nations campaign in exactly the same fashion as they did in 2023.

Their last win in the competition stretches back to a one-point victory over Scotland on 30 April, 2022.

And yet, this feels like a much more hopeful championship for Ireland. Their results against both France and Italy show a marked improvement on the corresponding fixtures that took place last year. 

2023 Results

  • Ireland 3-53 France
  • Italy 24-7 Ireland

2024 Results

  • France 38-17 Ireland
  • Ireland 27-21 Ireland

The upwards trajectory is obvious in the numbers alone. Having access to the Sevens players accounts for some of that progress too, as does the introduction of professional contracts for women’s 15s players for the first time.

Even their application on the field indicates growth in the squad. When France crossed over for their first try after just two minutes in the first round, Ireland reacted quickly to shut the floodgates. They were resurgent for the rest of the first half, keeping the difference to just 14 points at half-time. 

Fatigue showed in their game as the second half progressed as France continued to bury them with a relentless attacking game, but the overall improvements in Ireland’s game were the biggest takeaway from that day.

Playing under new head coach Scott Bemand adds to the freshness. And earlier this week, the team received another boos when experienced hooker Clíodhna Moloney was recalled to the squad for the visit of Wales to Virgin Media Park this Saturday [kick-off, 4.45pm].  Inexplicably missing from Ireland’s selection since 2021, she makes a swift return to the bench, and could yet play an even bigger part for Ireland.

Their opponents come to Cork with similar intentions to revive their Six Nations run. Wales are winless from two outings, losing out narrowly to Scotland in the second round after a 36-point defeat to England the week before. They too will be eager to avoid the duck egg mark on their report card at the end of the championship. The need to be on alert for a sting in the tail is not lost on Ireland this weekend.

“Wales will be looking at both those games thinking there were opportunities if they can get their maul going and convert some of the momentum, they’ll look to get a foothold in the game against us,” Declan Danaher said this week when asked about his assessment of Wales up to now in the Six Nations.

“Against Italy we created a lot of chances but we turned over a fair bit of ball in the contact area and the ground. We know Wales will come after our breakdown, they will come hard at us there. The girls are aware we’ve got to be hot on that from minute one. They’ve got players in their back row and across the field that can carry the ball pretty quick.”

edel-mcmahon Edel McMahon is back in the Ireland team this weekend. Ben Brady / INPHO Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

Ireland have made one change for the game as co-captain Edel McMahon returns to the back-row after she emerged as a surprise omission for the Italy game. She’ll be linking up with her other half of the leadership role, Sam Monaghan, in the pack. They’ll obviously have their list of responsibilities that pertain to territory, scrum work and forcing turnovers on the ground when Wales have possession. Those tasks, of course, are key.

But they’ll also have to divvy up the captaincy duties that need to be carried out on the pitch.

“I’m sure they’re talking it through,” Danaher explained. “Working with both of them now, they very much bounce off each other. They know what their strengths are. They’ll have a plan going into the game as to who’s going to chat to the ref and the other player will stay in the huddle to drive the messages that are going on there.

“It’s becoming more common in the game now, the two captains. And it makes sense. If you’ve got someone who can connect and drive interaction with the referee, and then you have someone for the huddles that can get a bit chaotic with too many messages. How can you keep very succinct with the points you want to get across. It probably comes down to doing one thing better in the tackle, one thing better in defence, or keep doing something that we are already doing well.”

Now that the deck is shuffled, it’s over to the players to execute the gameplan and clinch a result that keeps the wooden spoon away.


  • 15. Lauren Delany
  • 14. Katie Corrigan
  • 13. Eve Higgins
  • 12. Enya Breen
  • 11. Béibhinn Parsons
  • 10. Dannah O’Brien
  • 9. Aoibheann Reilly
  • 1. Linda Djougang
  • 2. Neve Jones
  • 3. Christy Haney
  • 4. Dorothy Wall
  • 5. Sam Monaghan (co-captain)
  • 6. Aoife Wafer
  • 7. Edel McMahon (co-captain)
  • 8. Brittany Hogan


  • 16. Clíodhna Moloney
  • 17. Niamh O’Dowd
  • 18. Sadhbh McGrath
  • 19. Fiona Tuite
  • 20. Shannon Ikahihifo
  • 21. Molly Scuffil-McCabe
  • 22. Nicole Fowley
  • 23. Aoife Dalton


  • 15. Jenny Hesketh
  • 14. Jasmine Joyce
  • 13. Hannah Jones
  • 12. Kerin Lake
  • 11. Carys Cox
  • 10. Lleucu George
  • 9. Keira Bevan
  • 1. Gwenllian Pyrs
  • 2. Carys Phillips 
  • 3. Sisilia Tuipulotu
  • 4. Abbie Fleming
  • 5. Georgia Evans 
  • 6. Alisha Butchers
  • 7. Alex Callender
  • 8. Bethan Lewis


  • 16. Molly Reardon
  • 17. Abbey Constable 
  • 18. Donna Rose
  • 19. Natalia John
  • 20. Gwennan Hopkins
  • 21. Kayleigh Powell 
  • 22. Courtney Keight

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