Dreams of Irish back-to-back Six Nations titles are gone as the three-from-three English look set to decide the destination of the title when they face France in the final week.
But the result could have been so different. Directly after half-time, Niamh Briggs gave Ireland the lead with her third penalty, but with English flanker Harriet Millar-Mills in the sin bin, they failed to get the try their dominance deserved.
Instead, when down to 14, England scored their second try and then held out easily for the win, which left Tierney and his girls full of regrets.
“We felt that at certain times we had done enough to win, but unfortunately we are learning the hard way, not to be able to close out a game,” said Tierney.
“That’s the most disappointing thing: we were well on top at the start of that second half and we had opportunity close to the line that we didn’t take.
“Unfortunately we let them off the hook and gave them a very easy second try.
“We’re very disappointed but we’re very proud of the girls to come here and put in a quality performance.”
English hopes of victory rocketed after an outstanding start. An early penalty from Amber Reed was followed by a 21st-minute try from English hooker Croker, which gave England an 8-0 lead. But Ireland managed to finish the first half strongly, and two Briggs penalties meant they only trailed 8-6 at the interval.
But their inability to cross the try-line cost Ireland dear. Paula Fitzpatrick was twice stopped just short in one impressive move that swept from left to right, and Briggs was also denied a try when her quick tap penalty was called back by the referee.
And although Ireland could have sneaked it, England just about deserved their victory.
E Croker, A Scott tries; A Reed pen.
N Briggs 3 pens.
K Mason; L Thompson (R Laybourn 72), L Cattell, C Large, L Clapp; A Reed, L T Mason (B Blackburn 40); R Clark ( H Kerr 78), E Croker (A Cokayne 61), V Cornborough (B Dawson 75); A Scott, E Braund; H Millar-Mills (T Taylor 68), I Noel-Smith (P Leitch 74), S Hunter (capt).
N Briggs (capt) (J Shiels 74); E O’Byrne-White, A Donnelly, S Naoupu, M Coyne; N Stapleton (N Caughey 56), L Muldoon; R O’Reilly, C Moloney, A Egan; S Spence, M-L Reilly; C Griffin (H O’Brien 65), C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick (C Cooney 80).
A Nievas (Spain).