A seventh-place play-off on the last day of the tournament was not the send-off the hosts had planned for, but poor performances throughout have taken them to this low-key finish against Wales at Kingspan Stadium (2pm).
They need to win to ensure automatic qualification for the 2021 World Cup and after back-to-back defeats against the French and Australians, a victory of any kind would make everyone feel better, especially head coach Tom Tierney. “It’s hard to take it all in at the moment,” he said.
“There’ll be plenty of time for reflection on how the three weeks went afterwards. We’ll need a break after this.
“It’s been quite intense for us as a group and for me individually as a head coach, we’ll get tomorrow out of the way and then see how it goes.”
Seeking to ensure Ireland are represented at the next World Cup
, Tierney has made minimal changes to what’s regarded as his strongest team. He has lost concussed duo Claire Molloy and Jenny Murphy, while centre Sene Naoupu, who got crushed by the Australian midfield, is dropped.
“We have a duty of care to make sure we finish on a high, get a performance, and secure that seventh spot,” he said.
“We’ve put a lot of emphasis on the game against the French and unfortunately things didn’t go well, especially in that first 30 minutes, and it was a tough day against Australia last Tuesday. Now we have an opportunity to finish with a win.
“It’s not going to be easy, but hopefully we can do it and then kind of draw a line under it and move on from the World Cup.”
Tierney has no issue with the flak he’s received for his part in the collective failure of Ireland’s World Cup. The ex-Ireland scrum-half has learned how to deal with that over the years, but accepts for the Irish women, it’s a level of scrutiny they are unused to.
“At the end of the day we’re in the High Performance Unit of the IRFU so we’re all accountable for our actions, both management and players, and that’s exactly what the women’s game has wanted in Ireland.
“We’ve got that now, we’ve just got to be able to handle it.
“That’s a new thing for the players, obviously, from a scrutiny and an analysis point of view, when they get it from the media.
“It’s something I’m used to as a coach but from a players’ perspective, yes, that’s something new that they’ve got to take on board. That will be a good learning curve for them.”
Wales have pushed Ireland hard in recent Six Nations campaigns but were beaten 52-0 by Canada on Tuesday.
“We shipped a number of points against Australia as well and we are both at the same level. That’s the reality of it, so it’s going to be tight.”
H Tyrrell; E Considine, K Fitzhenry, J Deacon, A Miller; N Stapleton, N Cronin; L Peat, C Moloney, A Egan; C Cooney, ML Reilly; P Fitzpatrick, C Griffin, H O’Reilly Replacements: L Lyons, I Van Staden, C O’Connor, S Spence, A Baxter, L Muldoon, S Naoupu, M Coyne