LIMERICK woman Aoife Doyle ends a five-year wait for a Six Nations start in tomorrow’s opener against Scotland at Donnybrook (RTE Two, 1pm).
After earning three caps in the successful Championship campaign of 2015, Doyle transitioned fully into the Sevens programme.
In addition to featuring on the World Series circuit, the Railway Union star was also part of the Irish squad that secured a sixth-place finish at the 2018 Sevens World Cup in San Francisco.
The chapter is now closed (for the moment) and Doyle is placing all her concentration on a belated return to the 15-aside code.
“All the training and all the talk you do, all you want to do is get out on the field and get it started. We’re aiming to win our three home games this year.
“I’m just very grateful for the opportunity. I’m just very honoured to be involved.
“I’m honoured to be starting and I’m really looking forward to getting out there with the girls,” Doyle explained.
Doyle’s last appearance at this grade was also against Scotland, when a Tom Tierney-coached Ireland clinched the Six Nations title with a 73-3 demolition in Cumbernauld.
With the gap between the two nations now significantly smaller — and World Cup qualification on the line later in the year — she envisages greater resistance from Scotland on this occasion.
“I was so lucky in my first year that we beat them by that margin and we beat them to win it.
“The game has changed since then and it’s going to be a lot tougher now.
Given that this is the first game both teams are obviously going to be up for it. It’s going to be very intense and Scotland are also after their World Cup qualification. Both of us are really going to go at it on Sunday.
With injury ruling Munster duo Eimear Considine and Enya Breen out of contention, Doyle takes her place in the back-three alongside Lauren Delany and Beibhinn Parsons. Delany is one of five English-based players in the starting 15, with Ellen Murphy, Cliodhna Moloney, Edel McMahon and Anna Caplice also featuring in the Tyrrells Premier.
Leinster team-mates Sene Naoupu and Michelle Claffey form a familiar midfield partnership, while another Munster pair, Dorothy Wall and Claire Keohane, are in line to make their debuts off the bench.
Having missed out on the November international defeat to Wales, Aoife McDermott returns to the second row.
Ciara Griffin once again captains the side from the blindside flanker and will be hoping to guide Ireland towards their first competitive victory in just under 12 months.
Adam Griggs’ side last tasted success on February 8 of last year — a bonus point triumph over tomorrow’s opponents in Glasgow.
However, Scotland did have the measure of their Celtic cousins in Donnybrook two years ago.