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Time for Ireland to deliver as Griggs' side search for a much-needed spark

Ireland women are hoping to end a miserable Six Nations campaign on the right note in Cardiff.

THIS HAS BEEN a Six Nations campaign of few positives for Ireland, their performances at times bordering on shambolic, but Adam Griggs’ side have, at least, one final chance to end it on a high this afternoon. 

Lindsay Peat delivered a passionate plea for the IRFU to take action and halt the downward spiral the women’s national team are on by introducing the necessary structures during the week, but now it is up to the current group of players to actually stand up and deliver on the pitch. 

A view of training The Ireland captain's run. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Three defeats, including two heavy reversals to England and France at home in Donnybrook, leave Ireland facing into a fifth-place finish if they fail to find the solutions against Wales at the Cardiff Arms Park later [KO 1.30pm, RTÉ 2].

A performance and result will not mask the problems but finishing the campaign on the right note will at least provide encouragement moving forward after a miserable campaign which has seen Grigg’s side regress rather than make any tangible progress.

“You live and breath this, it has been tough, I won’t make any bones about it,” the head coach says.

“This whole tournament, because it’s in such a short intense block with the three months leading into it, it has been tougher.

It’s also one of those things where you just know that if you go through some of the tougher instances, you will come out the other side of it. We are just trying to keep a bit of faith that way as well.

Remaining positive is one thing but confidence will be sapped when the same elementary mistakes and lapses in concentration continue to undermine the other green shoots of recovery. You cannot win a match at any level when you commit the same amount of errors as Ireland have done in the last four games. 

“You see us making similar mistakes because we address them but we are not able to pick them up when they become natural and we fix them and move on from them,” Griggs continued.

“That’s probably where you see these players at the moment. We learn something, we get it right and then we forget about something else.

“The environment is still really good. We are still really positive about things. Absolutely we are disappointed with our results and where we are at at the moment. We can’t hide from that and we have to be honest and open each other. 

“But we just have to keep moving on and keep some consistency across the board, even if it’s a challenge.”

Griggs has made two changes from last week — Peat returns to the front row and 17-year-old Beibhinn Parsons is handed her first Six Nations start on the wing — as Ireland go in search of the spark they so desperately crave.

Sene Naoupu Sene Naoupu starts in midfield. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Wales, meanwhile, are bidding to jump ahead of Ireland in the standings after their win over Scotland last time out and will certainly be hoping to inflict more misery on the visitors this afternoon. 

That being said, Ireland’s recent record in this fixture has been strong, with Griggs’ side winning each of the Six Nations games between the sides since 2011.

“We have played Wales a good few times, we play them every pre-season, so we know what they are about. Hopefully, we can exploit them,” Griggs adds. 

“I don’t think this is a time to make drastic changes. We have to make sure we have some consistency with selections and make sure combinations are there and we are looking to the future.

“This squad and the whole squad is really about looking towards the future.”

Now wouldn’t be a bad time to start moving in that right direction.

Wales:

15. Lauren Smyth
14. Jasmine Joyce
13. Hannah Jones
12. Lleucu George
11. Jess Kavanagh
10. Elinor Snowsill
9. Keira Bevan

1. Caryl Thomas
2. Carys Phillips (captain)
3. Amy Evans
4. Gwen Crabb
5. Mel Clay
6. Alisha Butchers
7. Bethan Lewis
8. Siwan Lillicrap.

Replacements:

16. Kelsey Jones
17. Cara Hope
18. Cerys Hale
19. Alex Callender
20. Manon Johnes
21. Ffion Lewis
22. Robyn Wilkins
23. Lisa Neumann.

Ireland:

15. Lauren Delany
14. Eimear Considine
13. Enya Breen
12. Sene Naoupu
11. Beibhinn Parsons
10. Nicole Fowley
9. Kathryn Dane

1. Lindsay Peat
2. Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird
3. Fiona Reidy
4. Aoife McDermott
5. Nichola Fryday
6. Ciara Griffin (captain)
7. Claire Molloy
8. Claire McLaughlin.

Replacements:

16. Emma Hooban
17. Linda Djougang
18. Laura Feely
19. Edel McMahon
20. Anna Caplice
21. Nicole Cronin
22. Ellen Murphy
23. Laura Sheehan. 

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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