Flood made her 15s debut for Ireland earlier this year.

Stacey Flood settling into key out-half role with Ireland Women

The 25-year-old has shown her quality over the course of five caps so far.

JUST THE OTHER day, Facebook threw up a memory that made Ireland Women out-half Stacey Flood smile.

The photo shows a very young Flood playing Gaelic football for Clanna Gael Fontenoy in an intermediate championship game against fellow Dublin club Parnells and in the background is current Ireland Women loosehead Lindsay Peat thundering into a tackle on her.

“Little 14-year old me looks so scared,” says Flood, who has been part of the Ireland 7s set-up since she was 18 but made the move into the Ireland 15s squad earlier this year.

It’s funny how things work out, with Flood and Peat – 15 years her senior – now over in Italy trying to help Ireland qualify for next year’s delayed World Cup.

After defeat to Spain on Monday, Ireland face a huge game against hosts Italy tomorrow. A win for Adam Griggs’ side would tee them up nicely for their final fixture against Scotland next Saturday, a game that Flood’s family are flying in for.

“It will be the first time my mam and dad have seen me play live since 2016 because 7s is always abroad,” explains 25-year-old Flood.

She’s one of six Flood siblings. Her older sister, Kim, was also an Ireland 7s and 15s international, providing Stacey with a pathway into rugby to follow.

Her family have a rowing background at the Stella Maris club in Ringsend, although Stacey and her three sisters were football mad. But she remembers a rugby coach from Railway Union coming into her school and getting a 7s team together.

stacey-flood-kicks-a-conversion Matteo Ciambelli / INPHO Flood kicks at goal. Matteo Ciambelli / INPHO / INPHO

Flood loved the experience and was talented, swiftly being selected for the Ireland U18 7s side and then advancing onto an Ireland 7s contract when she finished school. 

Being on the 7s circuit has been thoroughly enjoyable but Flood’s playmaking talents meant a switch to 15s at international level was always likely. Her Test debut came in this year’s Six Nations and then she was named Player of the Match on her first start against Italy, this weekend’s opposition.

Ireland have been through plenty of out-halves over the last couple of years but Flood has shown quality in the hotseat in her five caps so far.

“Literally every time I go on to the pitch I learn something different,” she says. “Tactically or even to start narrower and go wide, or keep hitting it up before we do. 

“It’s still tough being fresh and trying to learn stuff on the go so much but I’m really enjoying it and the girls are so supportive and making it easier for me.”

Monday’s clash with Spain saw Flood showing some of her qualities, including some inventive passing and one superb 50:22 kick that gave Ireland a lineout in the Spanish 22.

“I was more focused on catching the ball to be honest, I don’t think I caught it cleanly, it bounced but I managed to catch it,” says Flood, who is still with Railway Union.

“I could actually hear Kathryn Dane screaming ’50, 50!’ We had been practising them in training. Not from that angle but just getting the ball on the boot and seeing if we had the range, so I was happy with that.

“But I probably wouldn’t have given it a go if my team-mates weren’t shouting at me.”

stacey-flood Matteo Ciambelli / INPHO Flood carries against Spain. Matteo Ciambelli / INPHO / INPHO

As with the rest of her team-mates, there were errors in Flood’s performance too, with one forward pass in the Spanish 22 and a missed touch from a penalty. 

Flood was called ashore in the 56th minute just after suffering cramp in the very hot conditions as Ireland sent on Enya Breen at out-half instead.

“I’ve actually never had cramp before in my life so it was like I had been snipered!” says Flood. “After I kicked the ball, I got cramp in my two calves.”

Reflecting on the collective performance and Ireland’s high error rate on Monday, Flood indicates that the stresses of the occasion had been a challenge.

She doesn’t feel Ireland were rusty after an absence of any warm-up games and believes there is much better to come tomorrow against Italy.

“I wouldn’t say rustiness, I’d say eagerness at the start and then frustration at the end,” says Flood.

“Frustration that we were creating all those opportunities and not then pulling it off. You saw it in the first-half, we spent an awful lot of time in the 22 without coming away with points.

“So then in the second half, you begin to force things and you get frustrated because they’re not coming off. And then everyone is high on emotion and pressure. It builds up and we needed to reset ourselves and go back to basics.

“We know that now. We can put our hands up and say look, it wasn’t good enough. We know as a team we are better than that.”

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