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Doyle rallies Irish troops for one last mission

By Niall Crozier

With Sunday's IRB Women's World Cup third-fourth place play-off being his last match in charge, Ireland's soon-to-be ex-coach Philip Doyle is hoping his girls can re-focus for their showdown against France.

As tournament hosts, the French have everything in their favour, albeit that they, like Ireland, will have painful memories of Wednesday night at Stade Jean Bouin where they too fell short at the semi-final stage.

France lost 18-16 to Canada, this after Ireland had crashed to a 40-7 mauling by England.

Ireland's post-match reaction was one of bitter disappointment at having been so roundly trounced by England, whose response after going 7-0 down was to bounce back with five tries, a hat-trick of conversions and a trio of penalties.

Despite that, Doyle was optimistic in the immediate aftermath of that mauling.

"The girls are fantastic athletes and they'll get back to the drawing board," he predicted.

"They'll pick themselves up and dust themselves off – I've no doubt about it – and we will give a performance in the play-off."

Not surprisingly, he pinpointed Ireland's uncharacteristically lax defence for the concession of five tries.

"We pride ourselves on our defence and it just didn't work," Doyle admitted. "Our fringe defence was way too passive. They were trying to attack down our nine channel; we identified that.

"Our fringe just wasn't closing down that space quick enough and we were way too passive in our line speed... also in the tackle area.

"It's something that we're really going to have to look at because the French are massive ball-carriers."

Cooke centre Grace Davitt was one of Ireland's starters and her home club are hoping to maximise on the current level of interest in the women's game. On Monday night they are staging a 'Give it a try' open session.

Spokesperson Laura Johnston said: "Women's rugby is becoming more and more popular due to increasing media coverage of the Irish ladies having won the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2013 and more recently having beaten the world champions, New Zealand."

Highlighting Cooke's pedigree, she added: "We have a history of winning and have produced a number of players who have represented Ulster and Ireland."

Whether experienced or novice, Cooke invite you to 'Give it a try' at 6.45pm on Monday.

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