Ireland Women’s Head Coach Tom Tierney has named the Ireland Women’s side, sponsored by Aon, to take on their Italian counterparts on Sunday at the Stadio Tommaso Fattori in L’Aquila.
Five Connacht players are included in the 23 with Mairead Coyne, Alison Miller and Claire Molloy maintaining their places in the starting XV. Mary Healy is named on the replacements bench once again after making a big impact off the bench against Scotland with Ciara O’Connor, who made her international debut last week, also primed to earn her second cap.
There are two changes to the starting 15 that took to the field last Friday against Scotland.
Elaine Anthony moves from the replacements to partner Marie-Louise Reilly in the second row and in the backs, Hannah Tyrrell, who was involved with the Ireland Women’s 7s side last weekend at the Sydney 7s comes into the side on the right-wing.
The front-row remains unchanged, with hooker Leah Lyons, partnered by props Lindsay Peat and Ailis Egan.
Flankers Ciara Griffin and Molloy will again join captain Paula Fitzpatrick in the back-row.
Alisa Hughes, who won her first Ireland cap last week in Glasgow, will again partner Nora Stapleton at out-half.
Sene Naoupu and Jenny Murphy renew their centre partnership, with Miller and Tyrrell on the wings and Coyne at full-back.
There are also two changes in the replacements, as Ciara Cooney fills the space vacated by Anthony, and Sophie Spence comes into the side as cover for the back-row.
Speaking on the selection, Tierney said: “It was a very tough encounter on Friday evening in Glasgow. The Scots really put it up to us, and for the players to get that final score when it really mattered, and to come away with the five points from such a tough encounter is very pleasing.
“We’ve reviewed the performance against Scotland and the players are aware of the areas that they need to improve on against Italy.
“The nature of the Six Nations is that there’s no easy games, so we’ll have to be really focused going into the game this Sunday.”
Ireland Women v Italy, Sunday 12th Feb, 12.00pm (Irish time), Stadio Tommaso Fattori, L’Aquila (Live on RTE)
- Lindsay Peat (Railway Union / Leinster)
- Leah Lyons (Highfield / Munster)
- Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
- Elaine Anthony (Highfield / Munster)
- Marie-Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
- Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians / Munster)
- Claire Molloy (Bristol / Connacht)
- Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s College / Leinster) Captain
- Ailsa Hughes – (Railway Union / Leinster)
- Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
- Alison Miller (Old Belvedere / Connacht)
- Sene Naoupu (Aylesford Bulls)
- Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
- Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
- Mairead Coyne (Galwegians / Connacht)
- Jennie Finlay (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
- Ilse Van Staden (Cooke / Ulster)
- Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians / Connacht)
- Ciara Cooney (Railway Union / Leinster)
- Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
- Mary Healy (Galwegians / Connacht)
- Claire Mc Laughlin (Cooke / Ulster)
- Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians / Munster)