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Hannah's World vision convinced her to give Ireland best shot

 

By Cian Tracey

Back in late 2013, when Hannah Tyrrell decided to give up her inter-county footballing career with Dublin, her focus shifted towards qualifying for the Olympics with the Ireland Sevens team.

That dream hasn't been achieved just yet but less than four years on from a decision that she admits she didn't want to make, another lifelong ambition was achieved on Thursday when she lined out for her country at a home World Cup.

The numerous sacrifices along the way were made that bit more worthwhile when Tyrrell started at full-back in the win over Australia but now, having acquired a taste of it, she is hungry for more.

Opening their campaign with a tricky test against the Wallaroos was always going to pose plenty of dangers but on the flip side, the patchy performance has highlighted several areas that need to improve, whereas a facile victory could easily have left both the squad and their supporters with a false sense of security.

Japan's opener against France couldn't have gone much worse for them. A 72-14 hammering was compounded by the sending-off of centre Makika Tomita, who has subsequently been banned for three games.

It's the last thing that a struggling Japanese side needed but Ireland must be ruthless in their approach to tomorrow's clash at the UCD Bowl in Dublin as they look to remedy some of their own failings.

"We have a lot of cohesion in the team and we work well together," Tyrrell insisted.

"It didn't go so well at times (against Australia) so now we have one game out of the way and the nerves are gone a bit. We can come out firing on all cylinders."

How much Tom Tierney learned in the two warm-up games against Japan remains to be seen as he blooded plenty of new faces and combinations, but he did at least get a first-hand insight into what tomorrow's opponents are about.

"They're good," Tyrrell warned. "They are very well-drilled, very low tacklers and they like to swarm the ruck. We have a couple of players and tactics that we think will work against them so we can't wait.

"Their No 8 is a big threat for them, a big ball carrier. They have some really fast wingers out the back and they love a kick over the top or a cross-field kick.

"They're all good players with technical ability and they get about the park very well.

"A lot of their backs would be Sevens players so they would be very fit. They wouldn't be the biggest of units in the backline but they tend to use speed and footwork to get around rather than crash it up like Australia did."

Tierney will name his team this afternoon and it will be fascinating to see if he tinkers with his side after his bench made such a telling impact against Australia.

The front-row have something to prove at scrum time, while Sophie Spence and Ciara Griffin are pushing hard for inclusion.

Larissa Muldoon and Nora Stapleton will almost certainly be given the nod at half-back again.

Ireland have an ideal chance to cut loose and build even more confidence for next Thursday's pool decider against France.

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