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Youth seizes its chance as Ireland women turn on style

Ireland Women 35-12 Wales Women

By Cian Tracey

It's been a while since this Ireland team enjoyed such a memorable afternoon, but yesterday's hugely impressive drubbing of Wales offered hope that they are moving in the right direction.

The sizeable Donnybrook crowd, which encouragingly was again mostly made up of young supporters, were treated to a cracking contest in which Ireland cut loose and showcased a cutting edge that hasn't been seen in quite some time.

Adam Griggs wants his team to express themselves, it's in his Kiwi nature, and while they did so, perhaps the most pleasing aspect was the fact that the foundations for the victory were laid by a combination of younger players and those who have been around the block.

Claire Molloy was outstanding again as she helped herself to two tries, and a second consecutive Player of the Match reward.

The full-time doctor, who is based in Wales, will have enjoyed yesterday, which, like Niamh Briggs, also marked her 60th cap for her country.

Sene Naoupu was back to her best and she also crossed the whitewash in a second-half that saw Ireland show great nerve when down to 14.

By her own lofty standards, Briggs had a poor day against Italy last time out, but she bounced back well to pull the strings from out-half.

It's been a long and arduous road for Briggs to battle back from two career-threatening injuries, yet after a year on the sidelines the Waterford native is back where she wants to be.

Briggs' relentless pursuit of success has gotten her back to the top level and nothing summed up her commitment more than the fact that, as she stopped for a chat after the game, she offered a handshake with a broken finger that was facing the wrong way.

The offer to go get it checked out by the medics is quickly rebuffed and the emotion with which she speaks tells you everything you need to know about how good it feels to be back in a green jersey.

"Sixty caps, I didn't think it was going to happen," the 33-year old admitted.

"The last year has been really tough. I've come back with a different mindset to enjoy it. A performance like Italy would have put me to bed for a week, whereas I'm finding it much easier to delete it and move on.

"Am I where I want to be, physically and mentally? Probably not, no. A (torn) hamstring off the bone and a torn Achilles, they were two serious injuries. Did I contemplate it (retirement) after the World Cup? Absolutely. But there is a stubbornness in me."

Ireland women: K Flood; M Williams, K Fitzhenry, S Naoupu, C McLaughlin (H Tyrrell 60); N Briggs (M Claffey 70), A Hughes (N Cronin 66); L Peat (F Reidy 76), C O'Connor (C Moloney 50), L Lyons (L Feely 76); O Fitzsimons (L Feely 56-58) (E McMahon 66), A McDermott; C Griffin (capt), C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick

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