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One change for Ireland, who also end exile of sub Cliodhna Moloney

By Liam Heagney
Ireland coach Scott Bemand after the loss to Italy (Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland boss Scott Bemand has made one change to his starting XV for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations round three clash with Wales in Cork, with co-captain Edel McMahon restored to the team after her surprise omission in the 21-27 loss to Italy in Dublin.

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The forward’s restoration in place of the absent Grace Moore is the only starting team alteration as Bemand has opted to keep faith with the run-on players he chose to take on the Italians, including Lauren Deleny who has recovered after she was taken away on a medical cart at the RDS.

However, it’s the two alterations that the coach has made to this weekend’s bench that most catch the eye. Hooker Neve Jones was asked to play the full 80 in round two as the Irish decided against springing bench back-up Sarah Delaney into the fray.

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England Women’s coach John Mitchell on the Red Roses squad

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England Women’s coach John Mitchell on the Red Roses squad

Jones, though, will now be covered in Cork by Cliodhna Moloney, the English-based Exeter front-rower who had been overlooked since her late 2021 rebuttal of criticism from former women’s rugby director Anthony Eddy.

The Australian had blamed the players for their failure to qualify for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, only for the hooker to describe the coach’s comments as “slurry spreading” and that the squad had lost all trust and confidence in the IRFU and its women’s game leadership.

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Moloney’s recall is one of two changes to the forwards on the bench as the uncapped Shannon Ikahihifo of Ealing, who came through the Irish-qualified rugby pathway in the UK, has taken over from Eimear Corri.

In an IRFU media release, Bemand said: “This game is another opportunity for us to perform in front of our home support. We want to get the tide of support and noise behind us. The hard work has gone in and now we’re ready to go after that winning performance.”

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Ireland (vs Wales, Saturday)
15. Lauren Delany (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby) 24 caps
14. Katie Corrigan (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster) 2
13. Eve Higgins (Railway Union RFC) 14
12. Enya Breen (Blackrock College RFC/Munster) 18
11. Béibhinn Parsons (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht) 23
10. Dannah O’Brien (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster) 12
9. Aoibheann Reilly (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht) 9
1. Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster) 34
2. Neve Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury) 23
3. Christy Haney (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster) 15
4. Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College RFC/Munster) 25
5. Sam Monaghan (Gloucester-Hartpury) 19 Co-Captain
6. Aoife Wafer (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster) 4
7. Edel McMahon (Exeter Chiefs) 25 Co-Captain
8. Brittany Hogan (Old Belvedere RFC/Ulster) 20

Replacements:
16. Cliodhna Moloney (Exeter Chiefs) 31
17. Niamh O’Dowd (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster) 4
18. Sadhbh McGrath (Cooke RFC/Ulster) 10
19. Fiona Tuite (Old Belvedere RFC/Ulster) 4
20. Shannon Ikahihifo (Ealing Trailfinders/IQ Rugby) Uncapped
21. Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Leinster) 14
22. Nicole Fowley (Galwegians RFC/Connacht) 11
23. Aoife Dalton (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster) 12

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Abe 1 hours ago
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Not a fan of your picks. McReight is good at club level but he is too small for international level and has consistently disappointed there. Better to go for larger guys. Kemeney, Valentini, Hooper, Leota, Samu, Swinton, etc. Aalatoa and Nonga are woeful scrummagers and don’t offer much around the field. Wallabies will not win if the scrum falls to pieces. The fact that Faamissli hasn’t been developed is a tragedy. Need a scrum that doesn’t give away penalties. So looks like a Talakai maybe instead. Best scrummagers need to be selected. McDermott runs the ball too much and doesn’t fit into a structured attack like Schmidts. Gets isolated too often. Ok off the bench late but not for 60 mins. Goal kicking has to be one of the top 3 points for a 10 so that does in Gordon and O’Connor. Be better off going for lynagh on that front. Donaldson and Noah seem to be doing best of the established names. QC a better mentor type guy than OConnor as well if he’s playing. Daugunu has been the most consistent 13 and breaks the line a lot so must be in the squad. Joost has also been good. Richie Arnold playing well for Toulouse and is a preeminent lineout jumper so needs to be in. Latu also playing well for La Rochelle and is better scrummager than the Aussie choices so should be in. The big guy at the Tahs Amataroso I think it is needs to be developed as well. Otherwise the team will be too small. Hodge is a better choice at fullback than Wright. Latter makes too many mistakes. Not sure if Hodge available.

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Turlough 6 hours ago
Four Leinster talking points after latest Champions Cup final loss

First of all: hats off to Toulouse an outstanding performance. Duponts kicking was phenomenal. Twice he challenged Keenan with amazing clearances from his 22 in extra time. Result was territory deep in Leinster half in the early part of extra time which lead to 2 penalties and the game. Remember also his two 50:22s? Now to Willis/Dupont. ANY slight isolation by a Leinster player resulted in a turnover penalty. How many turnovers in the Toulouse 22? Leinster’s defense was immense, they had opportunities in attack but they honestly looked like they had not spent enough time passing the ball in the training in the weeks preceding the final. Game management was poor. Toulouse’s scrum had crumbled. At 15-15 Leinster had a scrum advantage in a position that would be kickable for a scrum penalty. Leinster played on and missed a long range drop goal. You MUST take the scrum surely? Win penalty and its a shot at goal to win with time up. No penalty and you can attack and drop goal whatever. The distance from sideline penalties from Byrne was shocking. If you are kicking the line you must get close to that 5 metre line. How many times were Leinster forced to maul from 10-15 metres? Toulouse KNEW Leinster was going to kick and maul and clearly spent considerable training time neutralizing thuis threat. The maul was starting too far out, Toulouse were able to stop the heart of the drive. You must change tack and start kicking for goals. That said it always felt like Toulouse were the potent team on the day with Leinster under pressure and chasing. Even with their backline completely disrupted, Toulouse found a way. 9 Wins in their last 9 finals. Leinster will be there next year. But so will Toulouse/Northhampton etc. A great era of club rugby.

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