Ireland’s ladies are involved in a three-way fight for the RBS Women’s Six Nations Championship ahead of a climactic weekend.
Philip Doyle’s team are currently second in the standings as they vie with both France and England for the crown.
In a complicated scenario, France entertain Ireland in the first of the weekend fixtures, at the Stade du Hameau in Pau on Friday, kick-off 5:45pm.
The French have won four from four with a score difference of +137 and are the only team still in with a chance of winning the Grand Slam that was won by Ireland last year.
Ireland have six points with a score difference of +99, which means to have any chance of winning the competition they must win by 20 points or more to usurp France’s top spot.
Perversely, though, Ireland winning in France then plays England, who are also on six points, back into contention ahead of their fixture away to Italy at Rovato’s Giulio e Silvio Pagani on Sunday at 3pm.
England’s score difference is currently +90 so to catch Ireland they must outscore Ireland’s winning margin by 10 points. The English will also have the advantage of knowing, as they play on Sunday, exactly what is required of them should Ireland win in Pau.
Ireland have beaten France only twice in a dozen previous meetings in the Women’s Six Nations, in Ashbourne in 2009 and 2013
Ireland, last Saturday, ran up a comfortable 39-0 win over Italy on their first ever appearance at the Aviva Stadium.
Nora Stapleton from Fahan kicked a conversion. The fly-half was a member of Donegal’s 2010 All-Ireland Intermediate winning team.
Larissa Muldoon from Cappry was a second half replacement in that match having scored Ireland’s try in the narrow 17-10 loss against England at Twickenham. She turned 23 on Tuesday and is back in the starting XV for Friday evening’s match.
Ireland started with a 59-0 win over Scotland in Ashbourne, Co Meath, before coming through 14-6 against Wales at the same venue.
Replacement full-back Jackie Shiels from Navan, Co Meath, is the daughter of Sarah McGinty and the niece of Charley McGinty, Townawilly, outside Donegal Town.
15. Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster) 40
14. Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) 12
13. Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile) 82
12. Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 12
11. Alison Miller (Portlaoise/UCC/Connacht) 18
10. Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 22
9. Larissa Muldoon (Bristol/Exile) 19
1. Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt) 79
2. Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster) 40
3. Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 16
4. Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 14
5. Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 29
6. Siobhan Fleming (Tralee/Munster) 14
7. Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht) 30
8. Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster) 13
16. Stacey-Lea Kennedy (Cooke/Ulster) 12
17. Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster) 5
18. Kerrie-Ann Craddock (Saracens/Exile) 3
19. Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster) 5
20. Amy Davis (Blackrock/Ulster) 35
21. Hannah Casey (Saracens/Exile) 4
22. Grace Davitt (Cooke/Ulster) 50
23. Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Exile) 11