By Daire Walsh
Ireland women’s head coach Adam Griggs sang the praises of Galway teenager Beibhinn Parsons after his side went top of the Women’s Six Nations table with a bonus-point triumph over Wales at Donnybrook yesterday.
Following last week’s nail-biting affair against Scotland, Griggs’ charges secured a second consecutive Championship win in fine style in difficult weather conditions.
After initially coming under pressure from the Welsh attack, Parsons bagged a superb 17th-minute try to kick-start a memorable afternoon for the hosts in south Dublin.
“She’s phenomenal. It’s one of those things; you try and help her with her game understanding and her skill level but the X-factor that she brings is all her. She’s just starting to really come into her own. She’s still got a Leaving Cert to do this year, I’m not sure how she’s going to balance that as well,” Griggs remarked.
“But over the last couple of weeks, she’s been brilliant. She’s growing into a really fine player but also she’s far more vocal now, she understands the game. She understands what we’re trying to do in our systems. She doesn’t sit back like a young one anymore. She’s certainly one of the vocal players and knows the standard that’s required, and she’s showing it on the field.”
Have weathered the initial siege from the visitors, a booming Eimear Considine clearance got Ireland into the Wales half for the first time. Their Celtic counterparts were less successful in terms of exiting their own ’22’ and Parsons capitalised on a gap inside the Welsh defence to cross the in spectacular fashion.
The Ballinasloe winger was on target in the opening round victory over the Scots when he was also joined on the scoresheet by fellow Galwegian Cliodhna Moloney. The Ireland hooker overcame the effects of a head injury to line out and got on the end of an intricate attacking move for a 26th-minute try. Cork’s Claire Keohane supplied the extras on her first international start at the 15s grade.
Considine was making a welcome return at full-back and she subsequently released Lauren Delany for a clinical finish on the right-wing. They looked set to increase their advantage when Welsh prop Gwenllian Pyrs was sin-binned for a high tackle on Ireland skipper Ciara Griffin.
Yet, Lauren Smyth pounced for an unconverted try on the stroke of half-time to leave the gap at 14 points (19-5). While the minds of the passionate home support were put at ease by Linda Djougang’s powerful bonus score two minutes after the restart, a resilient Wales responded immediately through influential No 8 Siwan Lillicrap.
A Robyn Wilkins bonus strike supplemented this latest touchdown to keep the Welsh in the frame for a potential comeback. However, Storm Ciara wrecked havoc for the final half-hour mark of the action.
With a healthy cushion at their disposal, Ireland were content to see out the game in an efficient and professional. Nevertheless, they had the final say with a last-minute penalty try and will be in high spirits ahead of their round three clash with England on Sunday week.
Scorers for Ireland: B Parsons, C Moloney, L Delany, L Djougang try each, Penalty try and con, C Keohane 2 cons.
Scorers for Wales: L Smyth, S Lillicrap try each, R Wilkins con.
IRELAND: E Considine; L Delany, S Naoupu, M Claffey, B Parsons; C Keohane, K Dane; L Peat, C Moloney, L Djougang; A McDermott, J Bobbett; C Griffin, E McMahon, A Caplice.
Replacements: C Cooney for McDermott (57), D Wall for Griffin (62), A Doyle for Considine (64), N Cronin for Dane (67), L Muldoon for Keohane (70), L Feely for Peat (71), AM O’Hora for Feely (80).
WALES: L Smyth; J Joyce, H Jones, K Lake, L Neumann; R Wilkins, K Bevan; G Pyrs, K Jones, C Hale; N John, G Crabb; A Butchers, M Johnes, S Lillicrap.
Replacements: C Hope for Lillicrap (36-43), B Lewis for John (h-t), A Callender for Johnes (60), P Randall for Joyce, G Evans for Butchers (both 67), Hope for Pyrs, F Lewis for Bevan (both 74), M Kelly for Jones, R Lewis for Hale (both 76).
Referee: A Barrett-Theron (South Africa).