Head coach Tom Tierney has confirmed the Ireland Women’s team, sponsored by Aon, to play Wales in Saturday’s Six Nations encounter at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park with seven Connacht players included (KO 11.30am).
Connacht scrum-half Mary Healy and flanker Claire Molloy maintain their places in the side with Alison Miller returning from Sevens duty to start on the wing.
Four Connacht players are among the replacements as Ciara O’Connor and Ruth O’Reilly are ready to make an impact off the bench in the front row with second-row/back-row forward Nichola Fryday and full-back Mairead Coyne also named in the 23.
Tom Tierney’s selection for the round 4 fixture shows three personnel changes and one positional switch to the side that defeated France 13-10 in memorable fashion at Donnybrook.
Wingers Miller and Hannah Tyrrell return to the back-line having been involved with the Ireland Women’s Sevens squad for the Las Vegas leg of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.
Claire McLaughlin, who sustained an ankle injury in training, misses out and her place at inside centre will be filled by former Connacht player Sene Naoupu, who is also back from a stint at the USA 7s.
The positional switch sees Kim Flood move to full-back having played on the wing in the France game. Galwegians’ Coyne drops to the replacements bench.
Ireland’s forwards are unchanged, with Lindsay Peat, Leah Lyons and Ailis Egan forming the starting front row for the fourth match in succession. Old Belvedere duo Marie Louise Reilly and Sophie Spence will pack down together in the second row, and number 8 and captain Paula Fitzpatrick is again joined by flankers Ciara Griffin and Molloy in the back row.
Speaking ahead of the trip to the Welsh capital, Tierney said: “The squad has been developing nicely over the course of the Championship, and while it was great to get the win against France in the last game, we haven’t dwelt on that and have firmly turned our attention to the challenge the Welsh will give us.
“We are expecting Wales to be very much up for this game and there is set to be a big crowd in the Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday. With that in mind, it will be important that the players stay fully focused on their jobs and that we go out on Saturday ready to perform.
“We’d also encourage any Ireland fans that are in town for the men’s game on Friday evening and are still in Cardiff on Saturday to come to the game and give the team their support.”
Wales Women v Ireland Women tickets can be bought online here. Seating – £15, Standing – £10/£5 U-16s. Tickets will be available to purchase online until 12pm on Friday. After this, tickets can only be purchased in person from the WRU ticket office on Westgate Street, Cardiff, CF10 1NS.
Ireland Women’s Team & Replacements (v Wales, 2017 Women’s Six Nations Championship, BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, Saturday, March 11, kick-off 11.30am)
15 Kim Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
14 Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
13 Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
12 Sene Naoupu (Aylesford Bulls)
11 Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht)
10 Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
9 Mary Healy (Galwegians/Connacht)
1 Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster)
2 Leah Lyons (Highfield/Munster)
3 Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
4 Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
5 Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
6 Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
7 Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht)
8 Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster) (capt)
16 Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians/Connacht)
17 Ilse van Staden (Cooke/Ulster)
18 Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht)
19 Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster)
20 Nichola Fryday (Tullamore/Connacht)
21 Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union)
22 Nikki Caughey (Railway Union/Ulster)
23 Mairead Coyne (Galwegians/Connacht)