Ireland got their Women’s RBS Six Nations campaign off to a winning start with Friday’s five tries to one 30-5 victory in Florence against Italy.
Larissa Muloon from Cappry, Ballybofey, started at scrum-half and was positioned alongside Fahan’s Nora Stapleton, who was out-half.
There was also an international debut for Katie Norris, who is a native of Moville and enjoyed a five-minute cameo from the bench.
Inside-centre Jackie Shiels is from Navan, Co Meath, whose mother is from Townawilly, Donegal Town.
Newly-appointed captain Niamh Briggs converted her own try for a 7-0 half-time lead, with the Italians guilty of losing their discipline.
Paula Fitzpatrick powered over after the break and Jenny Murphy scored from her own kick through.
Fitzpatrick and fellow back rower Heather O’Brien added further efforts before Maria Magatti’s late consolation score.
Given the bitterly cold conditions at Stadio Mario Lodigiani and the opposition provided by an abrasive Italian side, this was an encouraging opening to the Championship from the girls in green.
The new-look Irish set-up was missing hugely influential figures such as former head coach Philip Doyle and retired duo Fiona Coghlan and Lynne Cantwell now departed.
In their absence, full-back Briggs, picked out as the player of the match, led by example on the pitch.
Two years ago Ireland left Milan with a first ever Grand Slam following a 6-3 win and Friday’s win means they’ve started the campaign on a positive note.
France will visit Ashbourne, Co Meath, for Friday night’s second series fixture.
At the weekend, Wales overcame England 13-0 to shock the world champions and France defeated Scotland 42-0.
Meanwhile, Kieran O’Gorman was part of the Irish squad that went close to retaining the Dalriada Cup in Galashiels on Friday night, but Paul Cunningham’s men lost out to a late solo try after a cracking encounter with their Scottish counterparts.
With 10 minutes to go Ireland had worked hard to get themselves 18-16 up, until Scotland back rower Jason Hill set off on a run from his own half.
He dived over the try line for the score and with the conversion going over it saw Scotland triumph 23-18.
O’Gorman, who was replacement flanker, came on for the last nine minutes.
The 30-year-old lines out for Old Belvedere and this coming Saturday, France are the visitors to the Aviva Stadium.