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Maloney hoping Sunday switch can provide a spur for Ireland

 

By Cian Tracey

The last time Ireland played at Donnybrook, the landscape of women's rugby in this country was far more rosy than it is now.

With a Grand Slam on the line and England coming to town, there was a real buzz and excitement around the St Patrick's Day showdown.

To add to that, the World Cup was due to take place just up the road in UCD five months later, and Ireland were expected to challenge the best teams in the world.

What happened next is well documented, but as Ireland host Italy at Donnybrook tomorrow (1.00pm), it's fair to say that the same vibrancy does not exist.

Defeat in France last weekend highlighted plenty of shortcomings and given that the squad only reconvened yesterday, it's difficult to know how much work can be done in one pitch session and a captain's run.

Moving their home games to Sunday afternoons is a tougher sell, particularly because the double-header with the U-20s had drawn decent crowds, but Cliodhna Moloney is hoping that the switch can draw big support.

"What we'll lose in the Friday and Saturday night games, we'll hopefully gain more family and a younger crowd at the Sunday games," the Galway native said.

"It's important that we get big crowds. Change doesn't always have to be bad, it can just be a different direction we're going in."

For all of Ireland's struggles against France, they did put themselves in good scoring positions but they lacked a clinical edge. Adam Griggs' game plan will take time to implement.

"We want to progress, we want to get the wins but sometimes it's not as easy as we would like," Moloney admitted. "Obviously France away in your first game is always going to be a tough encounter but we didn't perform as we would like to.

"We lost a lot of experience after the World Cup. But the fact that there is a new management and coaching structures in place, obviously we have a new game plan as well, it helps with the feeling that we are on a new, clean slate."

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