After 74 appearances in the Irish rugby shirt, former captain Claire Molloy has called it a day on her international career.
12 years, two Six Nations Championship wins, three World Cup cycles and two Player Of The Year awards on from her 2009 debut, the 33 year old flanker withdraws from the squad currently presided over by Adam Griggs.
Their loss to Scotland at the weekend signaled the end of next year’s World Cup dream for the team, as well as the swan song for the Galway woman although it was “not the ending [she] would have wanted.”
The Wasps star has before stepped away from the Ireland set up as she took a break at the start of 2020 to focus on her medical studies before returning at the beginning of 2021’s campaign, but this time the decision seems final as she reflected on the “many memories, priceless highs and some rock bottom lows” on Twitter yesterday.
“To all the coaches, physios, team managers, S&Cs and all the backroom staff, thank you for guiding me along the way and often patching me back together at times” she said in the statement.
“To the players I’ve shared the pitch with, it’s been an honour. So many fantastic inspiring women I get to call friends.”
“To my best supporters, my Mum and Dad, thank you for following me all over the world to watch.”
“74 and out” she finished.
While the number of caps she racked up is up there amongst the greatest in Irish women’s rugby history, so too were her contributions on the pitch that will have no doubt inspired the next generation and live long into the future.
Here’s HerSport’s top five picks for Claire Molloy’s career highlights.
Four years on from its renewed opening in 2010, the fresh-faced Lansdowne Road under new sponsorship finally played host to an Ireland women’s Six Nations game.
39-0 the victorious score over Italy, Molloy made history in front of 5000+ fans as the first woman to touch the ball down for a try in the location.
Nora Stapleton and Gillian Bourke teamed up to send her on her journey over the line in the 32nd minute, Lynne Cantwell, Alison Miller, Heather O’Brien and Jennifer Murphy all following in her footsteps later in the game.
2.The drama of the 2015 Six Nations
As if two time floodlight failure at the Ashbourne RFC grounds against France, a tight win over neighbours England and a champion to be elected on points difference wasn’t enough excitement for the Ireland group of 2015, the ephaptic fashion of a 73-3 triumph to assert them outright winners of the tournament may well have topped them all.
Yesterday’s retiree had a massive part to play in said performances, putting yet another try on the scorecard on the final day to aid the side’s effort to bridge the 27 point gap that would elucidate either themselves or France with the title.
3.Beating New Zealand at their own game at the 2014 World Cup
Involved in the inaugural Senior Ireland squad (male or female) to inflict a defeat on New Zealand, Molloy and her colleagues famously conquered The Black Ferns in 2014.
Ending the All Black women’s 23 year winning streak in the competition, the Girls in Green progressed to the semi-final’s when the match concluded 17-4.
Despite France later going on to knock Ireland out of the competition, this contest is fondly remembered as a big juncture for women’s rugby in this country.
4.Her return to the Girls in Green in 2020
An accident and emergency doctor in Wales, 2019’s 69-time capped Molloy recuperated from international duties to concentrate on her course examinations before making a return in October of 2020.
The delay of the Italy and France Six Nations fixtures allowed her to enjoy some time in Griggs’ battalion and she didn’t waste any time in returning to old habits.
Picking up the Player of The Match award with her first display back she put on a superb showcase, gaining 66 metres, carrying the ball on 10 occasions and making 23 tackles versus the Bel Paese force in Dublin.
5.Grand Slam 2013
The icing on the cake however has to be that of the unforgettable Grand Slam accomplishment of 2013.
Overcoming France, England, Wales, Italy and Scotland the Philip Doyle managed faction secured Ireland’s best Six Nations exhibition in their history.
Molloy an integral piece of the puzzle along with other legends of the game such as Niamh Briggs, Fiona Coghlan and Lynne Cantwell the Emerald Isle are yet to come close to such a phenomenal presentation since.