Ireland Women’s Build-Up To England Away In Six Nations Championship: Declan Danaher – The Irish Examiner – April 19 2024

Good start half the work for Ireland at Twickenham

England put ‘a real emphasis on the first 20 minutes of games’ according to defence coach Declan Danaher.

Ireland women’s defence coach Declan Danaher has said the opening 20 minutes of their Six Nations Championship clash with England at Twickenham Stadium tomorrow (kick-off 2.15pm) could have a major bearing on the overall outlook of the game.

While it took them 31 minutes to get up and running in their tournament opener against Italy in Parma on March 24, England enjoyed whirlwind starts to subsequent encounters with Wales and Scotland. Having registered tries through Maud Muir and Zoe Aldcroft in the opening quarter of the Welsh game in Bristol’s Ashton Gate, the Red Roses repeated this trick on their visit to the latter with Amy Cokayne (prior to picking up a red card) and Abigail Dow dotting down during the early moments of an eventual 46-0 victory over the Scots in Edinburgh.

The reigning champions also posted tries in the second and 16th minutes of their showdown at Musgrave Park last year and Danaher believes Ireland will get a firm indication of where they stand on this occasion when the first quarter draws to a close in Twickenham.

“From what I can see they’ve put a real emphasis on the first 20 minutes of games. They pretty much appeared to shut out Wales. Had probably 10 or 15 minutes of relentless pressure, same for Scotland, and it’s obviously something they pride themselves in,” Danaher explained in a remote press conference yesterday.

“That first 15, 20 minutes to nullify the opposition’s attack and then come out and shift up the gears with their attack, and how they’re moving the ball.

“It will be interesting to see how our tactics versus theirs are in that first 20 minutes. We’ll have a good idea of where the game is going. We’ll sort of know where we stand potentially after 20.”

Given they are on the back of an impressive 36-5 bonus point win over Wales in Cork last weekend – their first in the Championship for almost two years – Ireland supremo Scott Bemand has opted to keep changes to a minimum for his reunion with a side that he served as lead coach for a highly-successful period from 2015 to 2023.

Having lined out there in an opening round defeat to France as co-captain Sam Monaghan continued to work her way back from a head injury sustained on club duty with Gloucester-Hartpury, Hannah O’Connor is once again selected in the second-row alongside Tipperary’s Dorothy Wall.

Although she did train with the squad yesterday, it was determined Monaghan hadn’t fully recovered from the effort she produced in Ireland’s impressive win against the Welsh last weekend. Danaher (who represented both Ireland and England at underage level as a player) insisted the Meath native’s absence isn’t related to that previous injury and is extremely hopeful she will be able to feature in their final round showdown with Scotland at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast tomorrow week.

“The concussion obviously took her out of training, didn’t it? It’s not the concussion, it’s probably the lack of training time. You want to be best prepared. The medical team did an unbelievable job getting Sam to be available. She has taken part in training today. She hasn’t taken a full part, but she’s continuing to recover.

“Who knows, with a bit longer in between games, maybe she would have been available. With the turnaround and everything, it just hasn’t worked out. I expect her to be in the mix for selection next week. We’ll get to Monday and we’ll see what the squad is looking like.”

The other change to the Irish starting line-up for tomorrow sees Aoife Dalton being named at inside centre at the expense of Cork woman Enya Breen. Yet Breen is listed amongst the replacements and will provide cover for Dannah O’Brien at out-half in addition to being an alternative to Dalton and Eve Higgins in the Ireland midfield.

“There will be an opportunity hopefully for her to potentially get some game time at 10. Wouldn’t that be amazing to have three options at 10 going forward that we can pick from, depending on who we want to play between Dannah and Nic [Nicole Fowley] and Enya. It’d be a good position to be in,” Danaher added.

IRELAND: L Delany; K Corrigan, E Higgins, A Dalton, B Parsons; D O’Brien, A Reilly; L Djougang, N Jones, C Haney; D Wall, H O’Connor; A Wafer, E McMahon, B Hogan.

Replacements: C Moloney, N O’Dowd, S McGrath, F Tuite, S Ikahihifo, M Scuffil-McCabe, E Breen, M Deely.

ENGLAND: E Kildunne; A Dow, M Jones, T Heard, J Breach; H Atchison, N Hunt; H Botterman, L Atkin-Davies, M Muir; Z Aldcroft, R Galligan; S Kabeya, M Packer, A Matthews.

Replacements: C Powell, M Carson, K Clifford, M Talling, M Feaunati, L Packer, E Scarratt, S Gregson.

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