Ireland sailed to a 20-10 victory over the USA last night in their first appearance at the RDS.
Following a week of tough disputes and controversy in the media, the three try result was major to both fans and the team alike.
From shows of solidarity to first and last caps, there’s plenty of memorable moments to reminisce on.
1.The resilience of the squad
An air of tangibility deeper than just a game descended on the Leinster ground even before kickoff, both onlookers and squad members aware of the influences and pressures on the unit.
While speculation persists as to a split among the camp, there wasn’t evidence of that last night when each team member both visibly and metaphorically had each other’s backs.
The relief and frustration release was all the more noticeable come the conclusion of the game when joyous celebrations ran out on the pitch, the spirit and buoyant nature of the group clear to all.
2. POTM Fryday
In a match where Ireland needed their big guns to step up, Nichola Fryday didn’t disappoint.
Receiving the player of the match award for her efforts, the lock was imperative for both The Girls In Green’s lineout and their defensive set up in the second row.
She also played a crucial role in winning a penalty for the side, took some big physical hits and worked the maul with class.
Ireland players belting out the “It’s Friday again, It’s Saturday, Sunday, what?” to celebrate Frydays POTM award 🏆Peat also gets hoisted into the air and celebrated 👏 The team then go and engage with the fans #NothingLikeIt #IREvUSA @HerSportDotIE pic.twitter.com/tx2NMEEkOP — Alanna Cunnane (@acunnane10) November 12, 2021
3. Flood’s cutthroat kicks
Stacey Flood played a major part in last night’s champion, with her crossfield strikes, dogged breakdown work and dead ball shots.
Some conversions did in fact go wayward, but the number 10 is definitely beginning to come into her own in the 15’s jersey.
You just have to look at her assist to Parsons to see that.
Ireland ranked 8th in the world beat USA ranked in 6th, 20-10. As @CoghlanFiona said on commentary, Ireland taking those painful lessons learned about when to take points, given how they missed RWC qualification. But hats off. Helluva result after a hugely tough week.— Nick Heath (@nickheathsport) November 12, 2021
4. The magic of Parsons
Relatively quiet by her standards during the match, Beibhinn Parsons incited an electric cheer from the crowd every time she touched the ball.
Getting on the end of one of those attacking kicks from Flood, she capitalised on her rapid pace to touch down over the try line for Ireland’s opening score, to no one’s surprise.
With the 19-year-old on the pitch the possibilities for greatness are endless and she is certain to always have an impact.
5. Last outing for Peat?
Having begun her international rugby career in her mid 30’s, Lindsay Peat cemented herself as one of Irish rugby’s best in that time spanning to now.
Now 41, the ex-Irish basketball and Dublin star led the team onto the turf before kick-off and secured a dream exit when she scored a try in the 49th minute.
Leaving the fray shortly afterwards she soaked up the cheers from the crowd before embracing with Cliodhna Moloney.
Team mates gather to thank @lilypeat11 for what has been a huge career. She came late to rugby, but like her Dublin Football and Ireland Basketball careers she makes it her own. Nothing the woman couldn’t do. Thank you Lindsey. You’ve been an inspiration to so many.#IREvUSA pic.twitter.com/LkEcJIOVKy— IrishWomensRugbySupportersClub (@IrishWomens) November 12, 2021
6. First cap for O’Leary
The old saying ‘when one door closes another one opens’ applies here as 21-year-old Maeve Óg O’Leary made her debut last night and made an instant impression when she came onto the pitch.
Holding up the opposition’s try in her first move, the Munster and Blackrock back row impressed as she replaced captain Ciara Griffin for her inaugural cap.
After that display she’s sure to be a growing component in the Irish set up for years to come.