Ireland Women come up short against USA as 16-year-old Parsons debuts

Ireland 10

USA 19

Murray Kinsella reports from Donnybrook

IRELAND SLIPPED TO a November Test defeat to the visiting USA as they failed to create enough attacking chances over the course of the 80 minutes in Donnybrook, but they look to have unearthed a couple of gems.

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Ballinasloe and Connacht flyer Beibhinn Parsons became Ireland’s youngest player ever as she got her first cap off the bench at the age of 16, roared onto the pitch by family and friends.

Laura Sheehan scored a try on her Ireland debut. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The prodigious wing very nearly scored a stunning try with her first touch in a six-minute cameo, swerving past three defenders at top speed only to be held up over the tryline.

Her talent is likely to be important moving forward for Ireland but Adam Grigg’s side came up short here against the States.

With the US ranked fourth in the world to Ireland’s eighth, it was always going to take something special from Adam Griggs’ side to open their November account with a win, and despite tries from wing pair Laura Sheehan and Eimear Considine, they came up short.

UL Bohemians and Munster’s Sheehan, a debutant on the left wing, showed her pace to dot down the end of a sweeping first-half turnover attack, while fullback Lauren Delany won her first cap in the starting team too.

There were physically powerful performances up front from the likes of captain Ciara Griffin, flanker Edel McMahon and loosehead Lindsay Peat, while lock Aoife McDermott did a fine job calling the lineouts for the first time at this level.

There was another debut off the bench for Leinster hooker Emma Hooban, while Parsons’ promise is clear but Ireland will need to improve for next weekend’s visit to London to face England, ranked number two in the world.

Eimear Considine made some huge tackles for Ireland. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Ireland needed a sublime try-saving tackle from Munster wing Considine inside the openside 10 minutes to prevent the US from going coast-to-coast, fullback Kaitlyn Broughton breaking out of the visitors’ 22 before Considine halted the Jennine Duncan.

Though Ireland skipper Griffin won a turnover penalty on the next defensive set, the pressure told in the 13th minute as the US won a maul penalty in the Ireland 22, quick-tapped it and captain Kate Zackary offloaded cleverly for centre Kimber Rozier to dive over and convert her own try.

Peat’s ball-carrying was causing the US defence problems but Ireland missed a second good chance in the away side’s territory when impressive inside centre Michelle Claffey just couldn’t hold a short pass from out-half Nikki Caughey only metres out.

Griffin earned another turnover penalty soon after, while Claffey made a superb break from a lineout – beating three defenders – but Ireland struggled to really get into an attacking flow.

They lost second row Ciara Cooney to a serious-looking shoulder injury after the half-hour mark and soon conceded a second try, despite another bone-crunching hit from wing Considine.

USA recycled the ball in Ireland’s 22 and elusive fullback Broughton bounced through a tackle, seeming not to release the ball, but getting the nod from the match officials.