Major shake-up in Ireland Women’s Six Nations squad

It’s only five months since Ireland made history at the Women’s Rugby World Cup by beating New Zealand in the pool stages and reaching the semi-finals, but the personnel changes since have been seismic.

Major shake-up in Ireland Women’s Six Nations squad

Head coach Philip Doyle called time on his long involvement. So did his assistant Greg McWilliams, team manager Gemma Crowley, captain Fiona Coghlan and fellow veteran Lynn Cantwell. And that transition continued yesterday with a Six Nations squad minus nine of those who served at the global tournament.

Siobhan Fleming, Laura Guest, and Grace Davitt have retired. Ashleigh Baxter and Sharon Lynch are injured while Hannah Casey hasn’t made the cut on this occasion.

The extent of the knowledge and skills lost in the intervening months is evident given six of those — Baxter, Cantwell, Davitt, Coghlan, Guest and Fleming — started or came off the bench in the defeat of the Black Ferns while Lynch was an unused replacement.

A dozen of those included going forward are uncapped, seven have Sevens experience and guiding them in 2015 will be the new head coach, Tom Tierney, who was appointed last month. A solid playing core does remain, including place-kicking full-back Niamh Briggs, second row Marie Louise Reilly and hooker Gillian Bourke. However off the 13 coaches and support staff listed in yesterday’s squad announcement only strength and conditioning coach Maria Earls and physios Ulrik McCarthy and Dom Hoban were at the World Cup.

Tierney’s troops meet Wales in a friendly in Ashbourne on Sunday (1pm). Their Six Nations campaign begins against Italy on Friday, February 6 in the Stadio Mario Lodigiani.

IRELAND WOMEN: SIX NATIONS SQUAD

G Bourke (Olympico de Pozzuol/ Selección de Madrid), N Briggs (UL Bohs), K-Ann Craddock (Saracens), N Cronin (Shannon),* J Deacon (Blackrock),* E Dunne (Old Belvedere),* A Egan (Old Belvedere), K Fitzhenry (Blackrock),* P Fitzpatrick (St Marys), O Fitzsimons (St Marys), F Hayes (UL Bohs), A Miller (Portlaoise), S Mimnagh (Wasps),* C Molloy (Bristol), L Muldoon (Skewen), J Murphy (Old Belvedere), S Naoupu (Galwegians),* K Norris (Blackrock),* H O’Brien (Highfield), F O’Brien (Old Belvedere),* E O’Byrne-White (Old Belvedere),* R O’Reilly (Galwegians), M-Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere), T Rosser (Blackrock), J Shiels (Richmond), S Spence (Old Belvedere), N Stapleton (Old Belvedere), H Tyrrell (Old Belvederes), * M Williams (St Mary’s), * J Wong (Richmond), * — *Denotes uncapped player at this leveL

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