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New faces in Ireland Women's squad as 7s stars miss start of Six Nations defence

Head coach Tom Tierney has included seven uncapped players as Ireland women spread resources across two forms of the game.

TOM TIERNEY’S SIX Nations champions will begin their title defence without some big names.

Tierney named his 30 strong squad this afternoon the likes of centre Jenny Murphy and the prolific wingers Ashleigh Baxter and Alison Miller absent from the group.

Alison Miller and Jenny Murphy celebrate Miller and Murphy celebrate last season's win over England in Ashbourne. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The missing women will be part of the Ireland Sevens squad to fly out to Australia this weekend for a three-match series against the hosts in Sydney on 6 and 7 February.

That run of games will also act as vital preparation for the next round of the World Series, which takes place in São Paulo on 20 and 21 February. A decision on their involvement in the latter rounds of the Six Nations will be taken at that point.

There are seven uncapped players in the tournament party, including Tralee trio Zoe Grattage, Ciara Griffin and Ciara O’Connor.

Elise O’Byrne-White and Claire McLaughlin will be aiming to fill the gap left by Murphy in the centre, with Munster wing Liz Burke and Connacht back row Grainne Egan also hoping to win their first cap.

Liz Burke is tackled by Rachel Taylor Liz Burke taking on the Wales defence during last weekend's uncapped fixture. Source: Craig Thomas/INPHO

“We have named a squad full of talent for this year’s championship. There is a nice blend of youth and experience and the vibe in the camp has been very positive over the last few weeks,” said head coach Tierney.

Ireland Women will play their home fixtures in Donnybrook instead of Ashbourne this season, a move that should facilitate larger crowds to come to the game.

Ireland begin their title defence against Wales on 6 February (13.00), with home matches against Italy and Scotland kicking off at the same time on Sunday 13 and 20 March.

Ireland Women’s squad for 2016 Six Nations

Forwards:

Elaine Anthony (Munster / Highfield)
Ciara Cooney (Leinster / Railway Union)
Ailis Egan (Leinster/ Old Belvedere)
Grainne Egan (Connacht / St.Mary’s)*
Paula Fitzpatrick (Leinster / Stade Toulousain)
Orla Fitzsimons (Leinster / St.Mary’s)
Zoe Grattage (Munster / Tralee)*
Ciara Griffin (Munster / Tralee)*
Claire Molloy (Bristol)
Cliodhna Moloney (Leinster / Railway Union)
Heather O’Brien (Munster / Stade Toulousain)
Fiona O’Brien (Leinster/ Old Belvedere)
Ciara O’Connor (Connacht / Tralee)*
Ruth O’Reilly (Connacht / Galwegians)
Lindsay Peat (Leinster / Railway Union)
Fiona Reidy (Munster / U.L Bohemians)
Marie-Louise Reilly (Leinster / Old Belvedere)
Sophie Spence (Leinster/ Old Belvedere)

Backs:

Niamh Briggs (Munster / U.L Bohemians)
Liz Burke (Munster / U.L Bohemians)*
Nikki Caughey (Ulster / Railway Union)
Mairead Coyne (Connacht / Galwegians)
Aine Donnelly (Leinster/ Cill Dara)
Mary Healy (Connacht / Galwegians)
Claire McLaughlin (Ulster / Queen’s University)*
Larissa Muldoon (Skewen)
Sene Naoupu (Connacht / Galwegians)
Elise O’Byrne-White (Leinster/ Old Belvedere)*
Jackie Shiels (Richmond)
Nora Stapleton (Leinster / Old Belvedere)

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Sean Farrell

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