FAI Cup Quarter-Final: St Patrick’s Athletic V Wexford – The Tallaght Echo (Online) – September 18 2021

Saints march into semi-finals with win against Wexford

Daire Walsh

A brace of Darragh Burns goals were the highlight at Richmond Park last night as St Patrick’s Athletic recorded a convincing FAI Cup quarter-final victory over Wexford.

In a feisty encounter that saw players red-carded on both sides, Burns found the net in each half before substitute Ronan Coughlan rounded off a fine evening’s work for the Saints with a stoppage-time penalty.

Hot favourites to prevail from this contest, the hosts were reduced to 10 men in the seventh-minute when centre-half Sam Bone was deemed to be the last man as he fouled Wexford attacker Jack Moylan 30 yards from goal.

Yet with Jamie Lennon taking up a defensive role in his absence, Pat’s eventually came to grips with Ian Ryan’s First Division outfit.

Running onto Billy King’s precise pass on 34 minutes, Burns broke the deadlock by firing through the legs of opposition netminder Jimmy Corcoran at a right-hand angle.

In addition to falling a goal behind, Wexford also lost their numerical supremacy when midfielder Conor Crowley was dismissed for a second yellow card offence in the 41st-minute. 1-0 to the good heading into the second half, Pat’s pushed hard for an insurance goal.

King, Ben McCormack and Matty Smith all went close to extending their lead, although Harry Groome’s curling effort off a Wexford counter-attack did produce a save out of Vitezslav Jaros on 55 minutes.

It was the top-flight side who carried the greater attacking threat, however, and Burns extended his tally just past the hour mark with a clinical finish into the bottom left-hand corner.

This provided the Saints with the additional breathing space they desired and with Coughlan on hand to coolly convert a spot-kick on 94 minutes, Stephen O’Donnell’s men convincingly marched forward into the penultimate round.

St Pat’s last reached the final of this competition in 2014, when the Inchicore outfit defeated Derry City 2-0 at the Aviva Stadium.

They are now just 90 minutes away from qualifying for another showpiece decider.

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World Cup Qualifier Build-Up To Italy: Adam Griggs – Irishrugby.ie – September 18 2021

Griggs And Ireland Ready For The Italian Job

Ireland Head Coach Adam Griggs has urged his side not to take their eye off the ball when facing Italy in Round 2 of the Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifier at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Sunday afternoon (Kick-off 2pm Irish time, live on RTÉ Player, World Rugby YouTube and rugbyworldcup.com/2021).

Having come up short against Spain at the same venue last Monday, Ireland are searching for a win to keep themselves in contention for a place at next year’s delayed finals in New Zealand. While Ireland have defeated the Azzurre twice in the past 11 months alone, Italy held the upper hand when the sides last met in Parma during the 2019 Women’s Six Nations.

That particular encounter finished 29-27 in favour of the hosts and Griggs is anticipating a massive challenge from the tournament leaders on their home patch.

“We definitely can’t take our eye off the ball here and we’re not underestimating them. They are a good team and if you let them get on top, and get some go-forward, they will exploit you. They like to offload the ball, they like to keep it alive,” Griggs remarked in advance of the game.

“We’ve spoken at length about making sure our defence is really dominant this week and putting a real emphasis on that. Trying to shut down their space and not give them time on the ball. I think when we had a look at the game against Scotland, they were allowed to play. If you allow that, they are good and they will punish you. That’s really an emphasis we’re looking at this weekend.”

In total, Griggs has made four changes to his starting line-up from the Spanish game – as well selecting a notable stalwart amongst the replacements. Eve Higgins replaces Lucy Mulhall at outside centre, while Laura FeelySam Monaghan and Edel McMahon are brought into the Irish pack.

Having seen her training week disrupted for medical reasons, Lindsay Peat has to make do with a spot on the bench alongside veteran back row Claire Molloy.

Regular starter Aoife McDermott misses out on the match day 23, with the freshly-capped Monaghan taking her place in the second row. The Meath native made her debut as a replacement against Spain and Griggs feels she has what it takes to curtail her abrasive Italian counterparts.

“She’s very dynamic, she’s physical. I think that’s what we’re going to need to combat the Italians this week. We’ve probably sacrificed a little bit of height with Aoife, but for hopefully more dynamic open field play with Sam.

“That’s what we would look for her to get, that’s the simple message for her. Play her game and what has gotten her this far. Yes it’s her first start, but at the same time, once you cross the line it’s a game of rugby. It’s 80 minutes. It’s 15 v 15. We don’t want her to try and overthink it and reinvent the wheel.”

On the return of the aforementioned Molloy to this match day squad, Griggs said: “We need her experience. She has trained really well this week. She has put her hand up and earned it. Being able to insert her into the game, whenever that time may be, will add that experience and that calm head that we’ll need to hopefully see out the game.”

While Monday’s reversal to Spain was a tough pill to swallow, Griggs insists Ireland are mentally in a good place ahead of their crunch clash with the Italians. Although there is only a six-day gap between the two fixtures, the Head Coach believes enough groundwork has been laid for his troops to do the business on the field of play.

“You almost have to go through a little bit of a grieving process in the days after the loss and we certainly did that as a coaching group. We made sure we reviewed everything from the game and again, it was an honest analysis of where we felt we went wrong. We presented that with the squad,” Griggs added.

“We said ‘we all have to hold our hands up here’. Support staff to players and make sure that we don’t let that performance happen again. The first couple of days were difficult, but we had a really good session in the middle of the week. We felt that was a good turning point for us to leave last weekend behind and move on to this weekend.

“We’re lucky, we’re able to draw on past Italian experiences, where we’ve played them quite regularly. We felt we’ve put in good performances against them before. Yes they’ll be at home and it will be a different situation, but that’s all we can really concentrate on at the moment and try not let the big picture get in the way of the here and now.”

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World Cup Qualifier Build-Up To Italy: Adam Griggs & Ciara Griffin – The Irish Examiner (Online) – September 18 2021

Four changes on Irish team for must-win World Cup qualifier

Laura Feely, Sam Monaghan, Edel McMahon and Eve Higgins are handed starts for the crucial fixture.

Head coach Adam Griggs admits there has been a lot of ‘honest analysis’ within the Ireland women’s rugby squad in advance of their pivotal World Cup qualifier against Italy at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma tomorrow.

Following a shock opening round defeat to Spain in the same venue last Monday, Ireland simply can’t afford another slip-up as they bid to reach next year’s finals in New Zealand. Despite having just six days to prepare for a battle with the Italians in their own backyard, Griggs believes his troops have laid enough groundwork to get the job done on the field of play.

“We made sure we reviewed everything from the game and again, it was an honest analysis of where we felt we went wrong. We presented that with the squad. We said ‘we all have to hold our hands up here’. Support staff to players and make sure that we don’t let that performance happen again,” Griggs explained.

“The first couple of days were difficult, but we had a really good session in the middle of the week. We felt that was a good turning point for us to leave last weekend behind and move on to this weekend.”

Griggs has made four changes to his starting line-up from the Spanish game – as well as selecting a notable stalwart amongst the replacements. Eve Higgins replaces Lucy Mulhall at outside centre, while Laura Feely, Sam Monaghan and Edel McMahon are brought into the Irish pack.

Having seen her training week disrupted for ‘personal medical reasons’, Lindsay Peat has to make do with a spot on the bench alongside veteran back-row Claire Molloy.

Regular starter Aoife McDermott misses out on the match day 23, with the freshly-capped Monaghan taking her place in the second-row. The Meath native made her debut as a replacement against Spain and Griggs feels she has what it takes to curtail her abrasive Italian counterparts.

“She’s very dynamic, she’s physical. I think that’s what we’re going to need to combat the Italians this week. We’ve probably sacrificed a little bit of height with Aoife, but for hopefully more dynamic open field play with Sam,” Griggs added.

“That’s what we would look for her to do. Play her game and what has gotten her this far. Yes it’s her first start, but at the same time, once you cross the line it’s a game of rugby. It’s 80 minutes. It’s 15 v 15. We don’t want her to try and overthink it and reinvent the wheel.”

In her role as team captain, Ciara Griffin has been doing her utmost to drill home the message that Ireland are still in contention for next year’s delayed World Cup. Should Ireland get past the challenge of Italy tomorrow, it would throw the tournament wide open heading into next Saturday’s final round of fixtures.

“After that final whistle [against Spain], the first thing I did was bring the group in together and I said, ‘Don’t look sad. We didn’t perform, but we got a losing bonus. There’s a competition here to be won. We’ve two games left, it’s all to play for.’ We said that no tickets have been punched for that plane yet,” the Kerry native said.

“Everything is to play for and it’s under our control to perform the way we know we can perform. That’s a big thing for us. It’s all in our control, it’s not different things being thrown at us outside of it. It’s literally us doing the job we say we’re going to do.”

Sunday’s game is live for supporters in the Republic of Ireland on the RTÉ Player, while the action will also be streamed live across rugbyworldcup.com/2021, Rugby World Cup Facebook and Twitter channels and on World Rugby’s YouTube channel.

The game kicks off at 2pm

IRELAND (v Italy): Eimear Considine (UL Bohemian/Munster), Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster), Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster), Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe/Blackrock College/Connacht), Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster), Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster), Laura Feely (Blackrock College/Connacht), Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps/IQ Rugby), Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Nichola Fryday (Blackrock College/Connacht), Sam Monaghan (Wasps/IQ Rugby), Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College/Munster), Edel McMahon (Wasps/IQ Rugby), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemian/Munster)(Captain).

Replacements: Neve Jones (Malone/Ulster), Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster), Leah Lyons (Sale/IQ Rugby), Brittany Hogan (DCU/Old Belvedere/Ulster), Claire Molloy (Wasps/IQ Rugby), Emily Lane (Blackrock College/Munster), Enya Breen (UL Bohemian/Munster), Lauren Delany (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby)

Posted in International Rugby, Women's Rugby | Comments Off on World Cup Qualifier Build-Up To Italy: Adam Griggs & Ciara Griffin – The Irish Examiner (Online) – September 18 2021

World Cup Qualifier Round Two Preview: Ireland V Italy – The Irish Times – September 18 2021

Women’s rugby

Ireland’s World Cup hopes on the line

Sunday

Italy v Ireland

Stadio Sergio Lanfranco, 2pm, Live on RTE Player

By Daire Walsh

The Ireland women’s rugby team find themselves in ‘must-win’ territory as they prepare to face Italy in the second round of the European qualification tournament for next year’s delayed World Cup finals in New Zealand.

Following a shock opening day reversal to Spain, Adam Griggs’ side simply have to come out on top of their clash with the Azzurre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma tomorrow.

A victory over the Italians would at least keep them in line for a runners-up spot and a place at a forthcoming repechage tournament – which will fully establish the participants for the 2022 showpiece in the southern hemisphere.

Although Ireland’s match day 23 won’t be named until later this afternoon – and some changes are expected to their starting line-up – it is anticipated that Stacey Flood will continue at fly-half for the third game in succession.

The Dubliner earned her first start as a 15s international in a 25-5 Six Nations success over Italy back in April, but acknowledged their latest meeting will take on an entirely new dimension.

“We have looked over them. We’ve done a few reviews and meetings. Not too much difference to when we played them in the Six Nations,” Flood explained in the build-up to the game.

“I think Italy playing at home, Italy playing in good weather, could play a factor. Obviously they’re here to do a job, just like any other team. We know what to expect from them. If they throw us a few curve balls, we’ll be totally ready to problem solve on the field and adapt to that.”

Italy will certainly come into this game on a high as a result of their emphatic 38-13 bonus point triumph over Scotland in the opening round.

While Ireland have generally had the upper hand in this fixture – winning 17 of the 19 competitive clashes between the two countries – the Italians claimed a 29-27 win when they last met in Parma during the 2019 Six Nations Championship and will understandably have their sights on a repeat result.

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FAI Cup Quarter-Final: St Patrick’s Athletic V Wexford – The Irish Times – September 18 2021

Darragh Burns bags two as St Pat’s march in to semi-finals

Red cards handed out to both sides at Richmond Park in a feisty Friday night encounter

Daire Walsh

St Patrick’s Athletic 3 Wexford Youths 0

A brace of Darragh Burns goals were the highlight at Richmond Park on Friday as St Patrick’s Athletic recorded a convincing FAI Cup quarter-final victory over Wexford.

In a feisty encounter that saw players red-carded on both sides, Burns found the net in each half before substitute Ronan Coughlan rounded off a fine evening’s work for the Saints with a stoppage-time penalty.

Hot favourites to prevail from this contest, the hosts were reduced to 10 men in the seventh-minute when centre-half Sam Bone was deemed to be the last man as he fouled Wexford attacker Jack Moylan 30 yards from goal.

Yet with Jamie Lennon taking up a defensive role in his absence, Pat’s came to grips with Ian Ryan’s First Division outfit.

Running onto Billy King’s precise pass on 34 minutes, Burns broke the deadlock by firing through the legs of opposition netminder Jimmy Corcoran at a right-hand angle. In addition to falling a goal behind, Wexford also lost their numerical supremacy when midfielder Conor Crowley was dismissed for a second yellow card offence in the 41st-minute.

1-0 to the good heading into the second half, Pat’s pushed hard for an insurance goal. Billy King, Ben McCormack and Matty Smith all went close to extending their lead, although Harry Groome’s curling effort off a Wexford counter-attack did produce a save out of Vitezslav Jaros on 55 minutes.

It was the top-flight side who carried the greater attacking threat, however, and Burns extended his tally just past the hour mark with a clinical finish into the bottom left-hand corner.

This provided the Saints with the additional breathing space they desired and with Coughlan on hand to coolly convert a spot-kick on 94 minutes, Stephen O’Donnell’s men convincingly marched forward into the penultimate round.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Jaros; Hickman, Barrett (Abankwah, 89 mins), Bone, Bermingham; Lennon, Forrester, McCormack; Burns, Smith (Coughlan, 72 mins), King (Lewis, 62 mins).

Wexford Youths: Corcoran; Considine (Dobbin, 87 mins), McEvoy, Fitzgerald, Cleary, Fox; Manahan (E Farrell, 68 mins), Crowley; Fitzsimons (Yousif, 87 mins), Moylan (Scanlon, 95 mins), Groome (Connolly, 87 mins).

Referee: D Tomney (Dublin).

Posted in League Of Ireland | Comments Off on FAI Cup Quarter-Final: St Patrick’s Athletic V Wexford – The Irish Times – September 18 2021

World Cup Qualifier Build-Up To Italy: Stacey Flood – Irishrugby.ie – September 17 2021

Flood Thriving In Ireland’s Number 10 Role

Although she is only four caps into her XVs international rugby career, Stacey Flood believes she is growing into the role of Ireland out-half.

Having featured extensively in the Ireland Sevens programme in recent years, the Dubliner made her debut in the XVs code when Adam Griggs’ side comfortably overcame the challenge of Wales in the opening round of this year’s Women’s Six Nations in April.

Following her cameo role in that game, she also made an appearance off the bench at home to France in the same competition before delivering a player of the match performance in her first start against Italy in a successful third/fourth place play-off at Energia Park.

She was also handed the number 10 jersey at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma on Monday evening as Ireland began their Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifier with a 8-7 defeat to Spain. As she prepares to face Italy for a second time in 2021 this Sunday (Kick-off 2pm Irish time), Flood acknowledged the experience of her team-mates is helping the Railway Union kicker to learn on the job.

“I’ve played in high pressure environments. I’ve been playing since I’m 18 in the Sevens. We’ve played in the World Cup and we’ve played on the Series for so many years. I think once you have the backing of the squad, like I’ve been having [it makes it easier]. The girls are so, so supportive. I literally can’t harp on enough about how much they back me up,” Flood said.

“If they see anything, they’ll come to me and say it. It’s critical learning for me. I feel like I’m learning so much, but the more the players around me are helping, it makes it so much easier. Obviously out-half is a really, really important position, but it’s not a one-person squad. It’s a whole 40 players who have trained with us, pushing each other.

“I feel like I’m learning on the job, but it’s so exciting because I’m learning on the job. When something comes off, you’re like ‘we practiced that yesterday in training’ and you’re seeing it happen on the field. Obviously some things in the game last weekend weren’t coming off, but on any other day half of those would be tries.”

When Flood was replaced by Enya Breen in the 56th-minute of the Spanish game, Ireland were 7-3 in front as a result of a Beibhinn Parsons try that was converted by Flood herself. However, a Lea Ducher try in the closing stages ensures the Green Army have been left with no margin for error in their remaining games against Italy and Scotland.

In terms of where Ireland didn’t perform in Monday’s contest, Flood looked at it from a general perspective rather than focusing on just one area.

“Because a lot of things in the game went wrong for us, it’s hard to put your finger on just one thing. Just as a collective, knowing when to pull that trigger and when to say ‘look, we can actually get points on the board here and get some go-forward’. Just punch and punch. Just going back to basics when we have to go back to basics. Not overcomplicating it.

“The most frustrating thing is, we created so many opportunities. It was just a case of ‘we’re not executing this’. When the forwards were firing, the backs weren’t firing. I think it’s a case that it’s kind of everyone needs to look at a team collective.

“It’s not one thing or the other thing. We just need to work as a squad together to have that want and know that, on these big occasions, we have to pull the trigger and get the points when we can.”

During the opening half of their game against Spain, Flood was able to take advantage of one of the new rules that World Rugby are currently trialling on a global scale.

Under the new 50:22 law, if a player kicks the ball from inside their own half and the ball bounces before going into touch inside the opposition ’22’, the kicking team will get to throw into the subsequent line-out.

Flood executed a kick of this kind up the left-wing to give Ireland an attacking platform close to the Spanish line. This is something that the Ireland squad had spoken about in the lead-up to the game and while it didn’t lead to the second try that her side badly craved, Flood was pleased to pull it off in the heat of battle.

“I was more focused on catching the ball. I don’t think I caught it cleanly actually, but it bounced and I got it. I could actually hear Kathryn Dane screaming ’50! 50!’ We had been practicing them in training.

“Not from that angle, but we had been getting the ball on the boot. Seeing if we had the range. I was happy with that, but I probably wouldn’t have given it a go if my team-mates weren’t shouting at me, backing it,” Flood added.

Posted in International Rugby, Women's Rugby | Comments Off on World Cup Qualifier Build-Up To Italy: Stacey Flood – Irishrugby.ie – September 17 2021

SSE Airtricity League Premier Division Preview: Sligo Rovers V Shamrock Rovers – The Tallaght Echo – September 16 2021

Rovers aim to strengthen hold on top spot at expense of Bit O’Red

By Daire Walsh

SHAMROCK Rovers will aim to strengthen their grip on top spot in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table when they face Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds on Saturday evening (kick-off 7.45pm).

Having had a couple of games in hand for several weeks, Stephen Bradley’s men will finally get a chance to play one of their back fixtures in the north-west venue.

Despite not seeing as much action in the league, the Hoops find themselves three points clear of Dublin rivals St Patrick’s Athletic.

The Saints will be on FAI Cup duty on Friday against Wexford and, therefore, this is a perfect opportunity for Rovers to widen the gap that already exists between the two sides. Nevertheless, they will be wary of the challenge that Sligo are expected to pose.

Currently third in the top-flight, the Bit O’Red have played some excellent football this term under the guidance of Perrystown native Liam Buckley.

He got one over on his old club St Pat’s last Friday and is seeking to do the same this weekend.

The former Republic of Ireland international had two different spells at Rovers as a player, winning a league title and a Dublin City Cup with the club during the 1983-84 season. In the two campaigns previous to that, he was named Shamrock Rovers Player of the Year.

He also managed the Hoops from 2002 to 2004, bringing them to an FAI Cup final in his first season in charge.

When his Sligo side faced the title holders in Tallaght back on May 24, a Romeo Parkes goal helped the visitors to secure a 1-0 win.

They had been on course for a similar result at the Showgrounds on April 10, only for Rory Gaffney to pop up with a late equaliser.

Deadlocked against Waterford last Friday at the Tallaght Stadium with an hour gone on the clock, Danny Mandroiu came up with a brace of goals to get Shamrock Rovers over the line.

A number of players – such as the aforementioned Gaffney, Aaron Greene and the now-departed Liam Scales – have been able to serve up goals when it matters most in the concluding stages of many games this year.

Given how difficult Sligo are to play against in their own back yard, it may well take something of a similar nature to get Rovers the three points they crave on Saturday.

Posted in League Of Ireland | Comments Off on SSE Airtricity League Premier Division Preview: Sligo Rovers V Shamrock Rovers – The Tallaght Echo – September 16 2021

Dublin Senior One & Senior Two Football Championship Round-Up (Print): The Tallaght Echo – September 16 2021

Boden, Templeogue, Anne’s, Mary’s and Towers enjoy winning c’ship starts

By Daire Walsh

BALLYBODEN St Enda’s began their quest to regain the Dublin Senior Football Championship title with a 2-17 to 0-8 Group One triumph over Raheny at Parnell Park on Sunday.

Having secured the top-tier crown with an impressive final victory against Thomas Davis in 2019, ‘Boden were dethroned by Ballymun at the same stage last September.

Thanks in no small part to goals from Warren Egan and Dublin senior panellist Colm Basquel, Anthony Rainbow’s Firhouse Road outfit emerged with an emphatic success in front of the TG4 cameras.

Next up for them is a second round encounter with Whitehall Colmcille – a game they will be expected to win.

The aforementioned Thomas Davis can embark on their next game in Group B against Clontarf with considerable confidence, having pushed champions Ballymun all the way in Parnell Park on Friday evening before eventually falling to a 1-12 to 1-10 reversal.

While Dean Rock came to ‘Mun’s aid with five points as a substitute, a goal from Dublin senior hurler Davy Keogh and a 0-4 haul by Eoin Kirby had Davis’ within sight of a scalp.

Meanwhile, a five-point loss (1-18 to 2-10) at the hands of St Vincent’s on Sunday leaves Ballinteer St John’s with it all to do. Their next game in Group Two is a daunting affair with Kilmacud Crokes, who registered an outstanding 2-18 to 1-12 win over Castleknock on the same day.

Group Four of the SFC is delicately poised after St Jude’s and Lucan Sarsfields played out an entertaining draw (1-14 apiece) at O’Toole Park on Sunday. Jude’s will next face St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh, while their 12th Lock counterparts take on Round Tower Lusk.

In Group Three of the Senior Two Football Championship, Templeogue Synge Street opened their campaign with a 0-15 to 0-9 victory over St Sylvester’s at Dolphin Park on Sunday.

With former Sky Blues star Eoghan O’Gara dovetailing effectively with his brother Killian and Ger Vickery in attack, TSS were able to keep their Malahide counterparts at arm’s length. Max Fitzgerald, Connor Curran and Fintan Dignam excelled on their championship debuts, while Conal Cunningham and Sean McCormack chipped in with some fine scores.

There were also bright starts to the competition for St Anne’s and St Mary’s Saggart, who had respective victories over Ballyboughal (Group One) and Naomh Olaf (Group Four) on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Round Tower Clondalkin enjoyed a successful opening round outing in Group Three of the Intermediate Football Championship, defeating St Patrick’s Palmerstown on a scoreline of 3-23 to 2-12 at Monastery Road on Sunday.

Champions at this grade in 1952, Towers will look to cement top spot when they face St Brendan’s in an away clash on September 25. Following this set-back, Pat’s will aim to revitalise their campaign at home to Garda/Westmanstown Gaels on the same day.

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World Cup Qualifier Build-Up To Italy: Sam Monaghan – Irishrugby.ie – September 16 2021

Monaghan: Hard Pill To Swallow, But We’ll Come Back Stronger

By Daire Walsh

It may not have ended the way she wanted it to, but Ireland second row Sam Monaghan is glad to have picked up her first cap in Monday’s Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifier defeat to Spain.

Currently playing with Wasps in the Allianz Premier 15s, Monaghan was handed a debut off the bench as Adam Griggs’ side launched their bid to qualify for next year’s World Cup in New Zealand.

Unfortunately, she found herself in the sin bin – for collapsing an advancing maul – when the Spanish score what proved to be the decisive try from replacement Lea Ducher, with nine minutes remaining.

Nonetheless, from both an individual and collective perspective, Monaghan and her team-mates are determined to right the wrongs as they prepare to face Italy at the same Parma venue on Sunday.

Speaking during a media call from Italy, she said of her debut: “It was a bit surreal, to be honest. I really enjoyed the build-up and all the excitement around the first game.

“No one wants a yellow card on their debut, but it happened. We’ve learned from it. There were a lot of mistakes and this week we’ve really put our hand up and there’s been a lot of accountability.

“We’ve worked on it. Training yesterday was very honest, open and positive. So we’re really looking forward to getting training done this evening and the rest of this week.”

Following an impressive 38-13 bonus point victory over Scotland on Monday afternoon, Italy currently occupy top spot in the table of this four-team round-robing tournament.

Yet, despite the contrasting fortunes experienced by both sides in the opening round, Monaghan insisted Ireland are more than capable of overcoming the challenge posed by the in-form Azzurre.

“We were all very disappointed. It was a hard pill to swallow, but we came together as a team. It’s not how we normally perform. Even in the Six Nations last year, you could see we’re better as a team.

“We were honest about everything and we’ve built this week, gone through reviews and spoken about going back to our game-plan.

“We’re playing for the pride of the jersey, we want to go to that World Cup. That’s our first goal. It’s going to be a tough game against Italy, but I think we can definitely get the better of them.”

In a similar vein to someone like Jenny Murphy, a Grand Slam winner with Ireland in 2013, it was not until Monaghan left these shores that she took up rugby as her sport of choice.

One of many in the current Ireland set-up with a GAA background, the Navan native is a product of the IRFU’s IQ Rugby programme.

“I moved to the UK about five years ago now and joined a local club in Brighton, Lewes RFC, just to make some friends,” she explained.

“They didn’t have a Gaelic football team over there at the time so I just joined and really loved it. A year later, I really took it seriously and my coaches saw I had an ability.

“They got in contact with Giselle (Mather, director of rugby at Wasps) and they gave me a trial. Giselle took me on last year and I played a full season with Wasps.

“The progress I made in a year just stood to me. Steve (McGinnis, the Ireland forwards coach), got in contact with me around November time and we stayed in contact.

“Reviewed my games, got on Zoom and work towards my strong points or my weaknesses. Then they had been keeping an eye on me and said they were interested in getting me into camp. I went into camp at the end of July.”

Before moving to England, Monaghan had been lining out in goal for the Meath ladies footballers, even coming up against Republic of Ireland soccer international Amber Barrett in the 2015 National Football League.

Since her departure from the panel, the Royal County have been on an upward trajectory that culminated in them recently winning the All-Ireland Senior Championship title at the expense of a five in-a-row chasing Dublin at Croke Park.

Monaghan had previously featured under current Meath manager Eamonn Murray in the underage ranks of the LGFA but, in spite of their monumental achievements in recent years, she has no regrets about the subsequent path she has taken.

“No, I think they actually got better after I left, to be honest! But we played together Under-16s and won an All-Ireland with Eamonn. We beat Donegal and it has been such a strong group there.

“They’ve had so many players coming through and the heart was always there. I think they made a very good decision. We were senior and struggling a bit so they moved down to intermediate and I think that’s the best decision they’ve made.

“They came up, won the intermediate and went on. You can see the passion and fire is still there. I’m so delighted for them, they’re all such a great bunch and really deserve it,” she added.

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United Rugby Championship Launch: Kieran Treadwell (Ulster) – Irishrugby.ie – September 16 2021

Treadwell: Having The Fans Back Gives Us A Massive Lift

By Daire Walsh

Ulster lock Kieran Treadwell has said an increased level of accountability within the playing group will be key if the northern province are to get their hands on silverware again.

Despite coming close in recent seasons – reaching quarter-finals, semi-finals and one final across a number of competitions – Ulster are still looking to reach the top ladder under Dan McFarland.

You have to go back to the 2005/06 Celtic League campaign for their most recent success, when current Saracens boss Mark McCall was in charge of the team.

The inaugural United Rugby Championship presents Ulster with a fresh opportunity to bridge this gap and Treadwell is in a positive mood ahead of tomorrow week’s opener against Glasgow Warriors.

Speaking at the URC launch at the Aviva Stadium, he said: “I think it comes down to accountability – the way that we hold ourselves and make ourselves accountable for mistakes, things that go on in training, and basically working together for the same common goal, which Dan has obviously alluded to is silverware.

“We’ve come so close and yet we’re still yet to get there. I think accountability is massive. It has massively changed, the onus is on us now to find a way to polish what we need to do to, to get to that final goal.”

Their URC debut will be particularly exciting for Treadwell and his team-mates, with 15,000 spectators set to pass through the Kingspan Stadium turnstiles for the visit of Glasgow to Belfast.

Having already played in front of 10,000 fans during a recent pre-season encounter with Saracens at the same venue, the 25-year-old second row is gearing up for a massive atmosphere on home turf.

“That will be a good one to kick off with. We obviously had a bit of trial there against Saracens, we had a bit of a crowd there again.

“It’s a massive lift for all the players and everyone there, to get that support and finally give something back to the fans as well.

“It has obviously been a long time for them to get out and watch a game. Hopefully we can start off as we mean to go on. Only problem is we’ll struggle to hear the calls on the pitch now, we’ve gotten used to no one being in the stadium!

“It really drives us and that has been mentioned, from when we found out we were allowed a crowd in the stadium. You can feel that buzz, that there are going to be people there that are going to be cheering on.

“It’s great for us, but it’s also great for the fans as well. They’ve been waiting as long as us to watch a game live.

“To have that atmosphere there, it’s almost like they get you up for the game more and more. You can feed off the buzz. It’s massive on both parts.”

With 109 senior appearances for the province under his belt, Treadwell is fast becoming one of the most experienced figures within the Ulster set-up.

There are a plethora of young players progressing quickly through the ranks in Belfast who have wasted no time in leaving an impression on the three times-capped Ireland international.

“They’re actually very experienced and knowledgeable in what they say. They’re almost not scared of coming to the forefront and asking questions. They’re all very smart rugby players,” he explained.

“Just to name a few, James Hume, Mike Lowry, Tom O’Toole. Callum Reid, he’s coming to the forefront as well. They’re all going really well and they’re all adding value to the squad.

“Tom O’Toole has got massive, massive potential. He brings a different dimension to his game, that some people don’t have. He’s still so young, but his aggressive carrying and his aggressive nature within the game is second to none.

“He’s effectively a sponge. He’s always willing to learn, no matter what. He’s always asking questions, he’s always asking to do extra work.

“Whether it will be a walk through, whether it will be extra scrum reps. He’s very keen to learn and he’s very keen to get to that next level quickly.”

A native of Carshalton in south London, Treadwell is Irish-qualified through his mother and subsequently joined Ulster ahead of their 2016-17 season.

He had represented both Ireland and England at underage level, before lining out for the former on three occasions at senior level in 2017.

He admits it was daunting moving from Harlequins to his current employers at such a young age, but it is a decision he is happy to have taken, adding:

“It was a difficult decision. I was only 20-years-old and had never lived away from home. It was tough to take it all in, moving to a different country, but it was a move I’m glad that I made.

“I could see myself being there and there was a path there for me, if I worked hard enough. It could be taken. Now looking back, I wouldn’t change anything for the world.

“It was the best decision for me. I’m looking forward to keeping on going and seeing where it takes me now. I’ve really enjoyed my journey so far and I really look forward to the journey in the future.”

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