Claire McLaughlin admits Ireland’s players have let themselves down at this World Cup but believes they can still salvage something from the wreckage.
A seventh-place play-off against Wales on Saturday is not the tournament finale anyone envisaged, but it’s now a must-win in order to secure automatic promotion for the next World Cup.
Tuesday’s depressing 36-24 defeat by Australia was the latest setback for an out-of-sorts Irish side but McLaughlin promised they will “bring a winning mindset” to their last game.
“We have to because we owe it to ourselves to get that performance. Over the last few weeks we’ve become so tight as a squad spending so much time together and I think we really do owe it to ourselves more than anyone. Positivity will be key.”
After watching the entire Pool stages from the high bench, the Belfast doctor finally got her World Cup campaign up and running at Kingspan Stadium, replacing the concussed Jenny Murphy.
Running out for the first time in front of friends and family was an unforgettable experience but it has been a frustrating few weeks for the 25-year-old.
“Obviously I was pretty happy to get on and it was a bit of relief because I’ve been on the high bench for the past three games.
“It was very disappointing and frustrating because you’re doing everything except the playing part, but it has still been a great experience.
“From not playing first three games I was feeling fresh and knew I had to bring everything I had.
“It’s a really nice feeling to be back home and the crowd lifted us when we needed it, but overall we didn’t perform well enough.”
In order to improve as a playing group, Ireland’s defence has to be sorted out because it has been a massive issue throughout the tournament.
“When you miss tackles and the other team’s getting on the front foot, there’s not much you can do,” McLaughlin said.
“The game was very physical and I don’t think we helped ourselves at times. We probably stood off them in defence when we should have been putting line speed on.
“They were bigger than us and more physical and we did let ourselves down at times.”
After the highs of beating the Black Ferns and reaching the semi-finals at the last World Cup, a seventh-place finish, which would equal their 2010 showing, is all Tom Tierney’s side can hope for.
It’s been quite the reality check this past few weeks and Wales, who pushed Ireland hard in the Six Nations, will be sensing the Irish girls are vulnerable.
“Any team you come up against would be up for the game. There’s seven versus eighth to play for and we want to be seventh. We will come out all guns blazing.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved