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Huge markers laid down as Ireland beat England and Fiji in 7s

Two impressive results book-ended Ireland’s best world series finish to date.

WITH A PROVINCE involved in a Pro12 final on these shores, it wasn’t especially difficult to slip under the radar. So you’re forgiven if Ireland’s Sevens exploits in Canada while Munster were torn asunder in Dublin passed you by.

Anthony Eddy’s women finished up seventh in Langford, their highest world series finish as a core team and rubber-stamped their ninth place in the overall standings as the final round approaches in Clermont (24 June).

It’s the nations they defeated along the way though, that should give Ireland confidence for the tasks ahead in both Sevens and 15-a-side. On Saturday, as Scarlets picked off the desperate attempts of a Munster comeback, Ireland’s women bounced back from the brink against Fiji.

With 18-year-old World Series debutant Katie Heffernan in impressive form, Ireland stormed back from 14 – 0 down. With 4.30 left on the clock, Louise Galvin scorched in for a superb solo effort from deep in her own half.

Heffernan claimed Ireland’s second try to level the contest and powered onto the subsequent restart to to pile the pressure on the Pacific Islanders.

Having lost by 45 points last time out against Fiji, it might have been easy for white line fever to set in for the underdogs in this situation. But the systems and skills remained solid, a textbook restart was followed by zip-line wide passes by Kim and Stacy Flood before Lucy Mulhall put Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe into the corner to seal a 19 – 14 win.

Source: World Rugby/YouTube

Murphy Crowe would go on to complete the pool stages with four tries to her name with a hat-trick against Spain, but only after a 21  - 0 loss to Olympic champions Australia.

The clinical finishing of the win over Fiji could not be repeated in the two knock-out matches that followed the pools as chances went  begging in the quarter-final defeat France and then to Russia in the 5 – 8th place play-off. However, after such a superb start Ireland managed to finish strong, recording their first ever win over England.

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Again, assured handling made all the difference as Ireland rallied in the second half once more with Mulhall in terrific playmaking form as she added two conversions and a stunning 50-metre try of her own to Galvin’s opener as Ireland rang up a 14 – 10 win.

Though not all of the skills and experience picked up on the Sevens circuit is transferable to the 15-a-side game and the imminent World Cup on these shores, the continued progress – which is rapid given Ireland’s recent move into the sport – can only breed confidence throughout.

Consistency is what every team in every sport craves, but for Ireland Sevens teams to take down superpowers in any guise is well worth celebrating.

Ireland Women’s squad at Langford 7sAshleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster), Chloe Blackmore (St. Mary’s/Munster), Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians/Munster), Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster), Kim Flood (Railway Union/Leinster), Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster), Katie Heffernan (Mullingar/Railway Union (dual status)/Leinster), Anna McGann (UCD/Leinster), Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum/Leinster) (capt), Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster), Sene Naoupu (Aylesford Bulls) ,Audrey O’Flynn (Ireland Sevens Programme), Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

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Sean Farrell

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