by Sean Moriarty
When the Irish women’s World Cup team run out on to the pitch of the Stade Jean Bouin to face England on Wednesday week there will several members of the squad who have made a contribution to Irish life in Britain.
Among them is former Parnell’s footballers Jenny Murphy.
Murphy, who won an All Ireland Intermediate club championship medal with the London side has now returned to Dublin where she plays her club rugby with Old Belvedere.
She came on as a substitute in Ireland’s opening group game against the USA ten days ago. Ireland won that game 21-17 which set them up for the historic clash With New Zealand a few days later – another game that Murphy came on as a replacement.
The home heroes defeated the Back Ferns to become the first Irish team – male or female – to win an international 15-a-side match against a New Zealand team, ending the Black Ferns’ 20-match unbeaten World Cup run in the process (their last defeat was back at the 1991 tournament).
Stars on that occasion included Claire Molloy who is one of two Connacht players in the RWC squad.
She plays her club rugby for Bristol and is a student in Cardiff University. She is a flanker and has been in the squad for the past two seasons.
Larrisa Muldoon is another who plays her club rugby with Bristol. She, like Murphy, came on a sub against New Zealand last week.
The results mean that Ireland topped group B and have already booked a place in the semi-finals regardless of their result over Kazakhstan on Saturday night.
Ireland Women’s head coach Philip Doyle beamed with pride as his side’s history-making win over New Zealand gradually sunk in for all those present in Marcoussis last week.
“To be honest I am speechless. I am so proud of the girls. So proud. They’ve worked incredibly hard and there has always been this performance in us,” admitted Philip Doyle in his post-match interview.
“Things didn’t go perfectly and we have a lot to work on, that’s for sure. A few things malfunctioned but we kept to the task and we got the result.”
The two tries-to-one success over the Black Ferns is a serious breakthrough for Ireland at this level, especially as they now have a real opportunity to qualify for the World Cup semi-finals for the first time.
The group wins over the USA, New Zealand and Kazakhstan meant Ireland stormed through Pool B while England also topped their Group in Pool A. Doyle is promising to take the battle to the ‘old enemy’.
Doyle oversaw last year’s memorable Grand Slam triumph and he dismissed the idea that defeating the world’s top-ranked side was a bigger achievement than the 2013 Six Nations clean sweep.
“No, we’ve just won a game in the World Cup. We’ve now got one foot inside a semi-final of a World Cup, and that is as far as it is,” he said.
Gaelic football had always been her main sport growing up and she has been lucky enough to represent her county.
She first started playing rugby when she moved to London to go to University falling in love with the sport instantly.
She balanced her studies with both Rugby and Gaelic training, earning two British University titles with St Marys and an All Ireland Medal with London club Parnells. She was a member of the Irish Grand Slam winning team of 2013.
Like her teammate Larrisa came to rugby via Gaelic Games and has played under-age football with the Donegal county team. The 23-year-old scrum-half plays her club rugby with Bristol.By day she is a primary school teacher in a specialised behavioural unit for children.
The third member of the team with UK connections is also a Gaelic Games fanatic. She took up rugby when she arrived at Cardiff University to study medicine. When she realised there was no GAA club at the university she decided to give rugby a shot.