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28 pictures to chart Ireland's brilliant journey to 4th in the Women's Rugby World Cup

Ireland Women, we can only thank you.

YESTERDAY BROUGHT THE curtain down on Ireland’s 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup odyssey.

It was a journey that brought them to extreme highs and historic results, but ended with consecutive defeats. It is the first time any senior Irish team has made the final four of a World Cup, here’s how it looked.

Game 1: Ireland v USA

Fiona Coghlan talks to her team before the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ranked two places above Ireland and boasting the tallest and heaviest squad in the tournament, three-time World Cup-finalists the USA were always going to provide a barometer of how Ireland had prepared for this World Cup.

Claire Molloy Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The answer came with an emphatic display of brilliant defensive organisation and tireless work-rate – not to mention an injection of power from Jenny Murphy.

Jenny Murphy hands off Akalaini Bui Baravilala Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ailis Egan scored the opening try of Ireland’s campaign and Niamh Briggs provided the other 18 points in a 23 – 17 win, including this try.

Niamh Briggs scores a trySource: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“It’s only step one”, said captain Fiona Coghlan immediately afterwards. Ireland were focused on the big task ahead.

Ireland team in the dressing room Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Game 2: Ireland v New Zealand

Tania Rosser's jersey before the game 5/8/2014 Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Fiona Coghlan in the dressing room before the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Black Ferns: The best team in the world, beaten only once in the history of the tournament and reigning World Champions since 1998…

The Ireland players line up as the New Zealand players perform the Haka before

Nobody gave Ireland a chance, except Ireland themselves.

Joe Schmidt

Ashleigh Baxter claims the ball ahead of Selica Winiata.

Ashleigh Baxter with Selica Winiata

Alison Miller scores one of the most iconic tries in Irish rugby history.

Alison Miller scores a try 5/8/2014

Niamh Briggs kicks the winning penalty to make it Ireland 17 New Zealand 14.

Niamh Briggs kicks at goal 5/8/2014

Only the full-time whistle would reveal the pressure as Briggs collapsed to the turf.

Nora Stapleton, Ashleigh Baxter and Niamh Briggs celebrate at the final whistle 5/8/2014

Nora Stapleton celebrates at the final whistle 5/8/2014

Sophie Spence and Lynne Cantwell show what it means.

Lynne Cantwell and Sophie Spence celebrate after the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Game 3: Ireland v Kazakhstan

There were reports of fans being turned away at Marcoussis as Irish support ramped up before the knock-out stage.

Ireland fans Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

It was by no means a classic performance, but a touch of magic from Tania Rosser tilted the game in Ireland’s favour early on.

Tania Rosser

Jackie Shiels seamlessly slotted into the role of fullback and place-kicker in Briggs’ absence.

Jackie Shiels

Flanker Siobhan Fleming ran in one of the tries of the tournament, a thundering 60-metre run to the line as Ireland win 40 – 5.

Siobhan Fleming

Semi-final: Ireland v England

Lynne Cantwell

Nora Stapleton in the dressing room before the game

Captain Coghlan forces her way through

Fiona Coghlan

Alison Miller is caught by Danielle Waterman.

Alison Miller tackled by Danielle Waterman

Murphy rocks Waterman with a ferocious tackle

The efforts are not enough, however, and England seal their place in the final where they would bridge the 20-year wait for their second World Cup.

Jenny Murphy tackles Danielle Waterman

Third place play-off: Ireland v France

Spence and Baxter try to lift spirits for one more game.

Ashleigh Baxter and Sophie Spence

Lynch and Miller pre-match.

Sharon Lynch and Alison Miller

Grace Davitt’s try can’t stop France taking third place with a 25 – 18 home win.

Grace Davitt beats Christelle Le Duff to score a try

The end of an era

Philip Doyle with Jenny Murphy, Lynne Cantwell and Niamh Briggs after the game

Doyle steps away hoping to see IRFU drive women’s rugby forward

Ireland captain Coghlan retires on losing note but with immense pride

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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