Living for many years on the southside of Dublin I am not so familiar with “de northside” and underestimated the time required to get to Malahide RFC. As a result of missing the turn-off (and driving through the town centre) by the time we arrived at the club the carpark was full. Like others we parked at the Church and walked across the field and through a housing estate, arriving in behind the goalpost just as Wales were lining up the conversion of their try which I read came from an intercept. The conversion was successful putting them into a 0-7 lead. The wind was with Wales in the first half but they missed a penalty opportunity to extend their lead shortly afterward.
Ireland finally got on the scoreboard after a strong break by #13 Grace Davitt earned a penalty in front of the posts which Nora Stapleton converted to go into the break 3-7 down.
I could not see a clock or scoreboard and there was no PA announcing the scores or substitutes so it was a far cry from their 6N game which I had attended in the Aviva. It was a lovely day, sunny for most of the first half but cloudier for the second. The sun was behind us which made it easier to watch the action. There was a bigger crowd on the far side of the pitch near the clubhouse, probably those who had arrived in that side before the carpark filled! You could see the smoke rising from I presume a BBQ there, I would not like to have been downwind of it. From time to time a plane would pass overhead, lining up a fly by for the air show at Bray at the south side of Dublin bay. Some people nearby were keeping tabs on progress at Croke Park and at the British Open. It was unfortunate timing that the game clashed with the Dublin – Meath Leinster final as more people may have come along otherwise.
There was a lot more action at our end of the pitch in the second half as Ireland turned on the style to score four unanswered tries. The first came from an excellent pick up of a cross field kick by #14 Ashleigh Baxter who had a lot of ground to cover but showed her pace to make it all the way to the line. Nora Stapleton converted to put Ireland into the lead and they never looked back.
The second try was well worked by the pack who controlled a rolling maul allowing Fiona Coughlan to touch down and extend the lead. Nora again converted to bring the score to 17-7.
Alison Miller got in on the action next showing her strength to touch down despite being tackled close to the line. The angle was difficult for Stapleton who missed the conversion.
The fourth try was scored by prop Ailis Egan after more good work by the pack. It was also unconverted and was the final score of the game.
Lots of changes were made and the team lost some shape and three lineouts in a row were scrappier than they would have liked but Wales never came close to breaching the Irish line again.
There were a few injury concerns, hopefully none will be so serious as to stop any of the team travelling to France.
Highlights video available
Best wishes to the team as they head to Paris for the IRB Womens Rugby World Cup. Their opening clash against the US on Friday, August 1 will be broadcast on TG4 starting at 15:50 (K/O 4pm Irish time).
Ireland: Jackie Shiels, Ashleigh Baxter, Grace Davitt, Jenny Murphy, Alison Miller, Nora Stapleton, Tania Rosser, Fiona Coghlan (capt), Gill Bourke, Ailis Egan, Sophie Spence, Marie Louise Reilly, Paula Fitzpatrick, Claire Molloy, Heather O’Brien.
Replacements used: Niamh Kavanagh for Shiels, Siobhan Fleming for O’Brien, Hannah Casey for Davitt (all 53 mins), Larissa Muldoon for Tania Rosser (56), O’Brien for Fitzpatrick (60), Sharon Lynch for Bourke (63), Laura Guest for Spence (65), Kerrie-Ann Craddock for Egan (67), Orla Fitzsimons for Reilly (71).
Wales: Laurie Harries, Adi Taviner, Elen Evans, Rebecca de Filippo, Dyddgu Hywel, Robyn Wilkins, Sian Moore, Caryl Thomas, Carys Phillips, Megan York, Rachel Taylor (capt), Shona Powell Hughes, Sian Williams, Nia Davies, Sioned Harries.
Replacements used: Lowri Harries for Phillips, Catrin Edwards for York, Jenny Davies for Thomas, Jenny Hawkins for Williams (all half-time), Elinor Snowsill for de Filippo (42 mins), Philippa Tuttiett for Evans (49), Catrina Nicholas for S Harries (54), Amy Day for Moore (62).
After the game we strolled around Malahide which was looking well on a bright summers day with colourful hanging baskets. There was a continental vibe with people sitting at tables outside cafes enjoying the summery evening. After walking along the seafront we stopped off to see Malahide Castle on the way home. While the Castle was closed we had a lovely walk through the grounds, seeing the gardens, courtyard and the outside of the castle itself.
The walk in to the Castle from the carpark ran alongside the cricket ground where a game was in progress.
All photos are my own this week