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'Vegas 3' return as Ireland head to Wales with Grand Slam dream still alive

Alison Miller, Sene Naoupu and Hannah Tyrrell all return for Saturday’s game.

Naoupu: replaces the injured McLaughlin in midfield.
Naoupu: replaces the injured McLaughlin in midfield.
Image: Craig Watson/INPHO

IRELAND WOMEN ARE at close to full strength again for Saturday’s Six Nations game against Wales [Cardiff Arms Park, 11.30am, RTÉ].

The ‘Vegas Three’ – Alison Miller, Sene Naoupu, and Hannah Tyrrell – are all available once again and slot straight back into to Tom Tierney’s starting XV.

The key trio controversially missed out on the Round 3 win against France when they were pulled from the 15s squad by management so that they could travel to the USA with the national 7s squad.

A weakened Irish side ground out a 13-10 win nonetheless and now head to Cardiff with the championship title and Grand Slam still very much on their minds.

Kim Flood, who started on the wing against France, moves to fullback with Mairead Coyne dropping to the bench and Eimear Considine missing out on the matchday panel entirely.

Centre Claire McLaughlin injured her ankle in training last weekend and is ruled out.

Wins this weekend for both Ireland and England, who play Scotland, would set up a mouthwatering Grand Slam decider under the floodlights in Donnybrook on St Patrick’s Day.

And Tierney is calling on any Irish fans in Cardiff to come out and support the team on Saturday morning.

“The squad has been developing nicely over the course of the Championship, and while it was great to get the win against France in the last game, we haven’t dwelled on that and have firmly turned our attention to the challenge the Welsh will give us.

“We are expecting Wales to be very much up for this game and there is set to be a big crowd in the Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday.

“With that in mind, it will be important that the players stay fully focused on their jobs and that we go out on Saturday ready to perform.

“We’d also encourage any Ireland fans that are in town for the men’s game on Friday evening and are still in Cardiff on Saturday to come to the game and give the team their support.”

Ireland Women (v Wales):

15. Kim Flood
14. Hannah Tyrrell
13. Jenny Murphy
12. Sene Naoupu
11. Alison Miller
10. Nora Stapleton
9. Mary Healy

1. Lindsay Peat
2. Leah Lyons
3. Ailis Egan
4. Sophie Spence
5. Marie-Louise Reilly
6. Ciara Griffin
7. Claire Molloy
8. Paula Fitzpatrick (captain)

Replacements:

16. Ciara O Connor
17. Ilse Van Staden
18. Ruth O’Reilly
19. Ciara Cooney
20. Nichola Fryday
21. Larissa Muldoon
22. Nikki Caughey
23. Mairead Coyne

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Niall Kelly

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