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Molloy earns Ireland armband after years of sacrifice pay off

By Cian Tracey

Every player in the 28-strong Ireland squad has their own story to tell about the sacrifices that have been made in the lead up to the World Cup but few sum up the commitment to the cause more than Claire Molloy.

A doctor based in Wales, the regularity with which she travels to Dublin for training sessions and games means that the security staff in Cardiff airport recognise her when she arrives straight from a shift while still wearing her scrubs.

While her employers have been understanding, there is no doubt being named to captain her country at a home World will go some way to making those hours spent in the skies worth it.

Many in a similar situation would have walked away a long time ago and when you consider Molloy has been making the journey since 2013, when Ireland famously won the Grand Slam, it gives you some idea of her dedication to her country.

During Ireland's Grand Slam success, Molloy sat her final medical exams and still managed to come out the other side with a winner's medal as well as the required results to further her career.

Molloy's is a story that may never even have reached this point. After all, this is a Galway woman who grew up dreaming of playing in Croke Park and not Lansdowne Road.

By 2005 that dream had been lived and although Molloy was powerless to deny her Galway side being beaten in the All-Ireland final by an outstanding Cork outfit, slowly her attentions began to turn to the oval ball.

The tipping point came when she took up the offer of attending Cardiff University to study medicine and she soon began her rugby journey.

In between playing a key role at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, she captained Ireland at the 2013 Sevens World Cup, so leading her country won't be alien. That said, the task facing her in the coming weeks is a tougher one.

With two Six Nations medals (2013 and 2015) in her pocket, Molloy is an experienced campaigner and given she is one of the first names on the team sheet, it came as no surprise when the management turned to her to skipper the side in place of the injured Niamh Briggs.

Molloy is the type of openside flanker players despise playing against - hugely aggressive in defence, she is a groundhog on the deck and regularly spoils opposition ball.

For any close followers of the women's team, there may have been an element of surprise when Paula Fitzpatrick (left), who skippered Ireland at the Six Nations, was overlooked for the role.

"I'm fortunate that I'll be surrounded by players with great experience," Molloy said.

The 29-year old will have learned a lot from previous captains like Briggs and Fiona Coghlan down through the years but she must now put her own stamp on the team.

Selecting her as captain could be just what the doctor ordered.

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