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24th Oct 2020

“One year I said, ‘Look Dad, I’ll be grand, I’ll get a good gum shield and fire away!'”

Patrick McCarry

“The logistics of it are going through the IRFU, so we’re really leaving it up to them.”

Before Dorothy Wall once again proved to be an impressive ‘finisher’, on Thursday, Ireland Women’s head coach Adam Griggs was eager to get on with the rugby after months upon months of trying to get Test matches back.

Griggs spoke with us not long after his team to play Italy [coverage from 6:00pm this evening on RTE 2] was named. The women’s squad have belted into training over the past six weeks, while juggling their studies and jobs, and everyone is keen to finish the 2020 Six Nations on a high.

Griggs was asked how much more difficult is it to ask his players to restrict movements when many of them are in full-time jobs, with some in schools and others working in healthcare fields.

“I appreciate that the girls are probably out in the public more, but we had to ask everyone to really limit their contacts over the last six weeks and be responsible for ourselves. Thankfully from the last round of testing from Tuesday, where we’re all clear, so everyone has taken that advice on board so we’re good to go.”

Ireland Women’s head coach Adam Griggs and captain Ciara Griffin pictured back in January 2020. (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile)

The ‘all clear’ ended up not being that clear after one player’s test came back as inconclusive. She later went for a further test and that came back as a negative, but it was too late for her and two of her teammates, who were deemed close contacts. It meant Eimear Considine and Laura Feely had to drop out, Laura Sheehan and Leah Lyons came in and Lauren Delany switched to fullback.

With all clears like that, who needs complications…

There was better news, though, on Friday evening when the IRFU announced France were willing to travel to Dublin for their final game of the Six Nations. The Irish players, as they are amateurs, were facing 14 days of quarantine if they travelled to France for the game. That quarantine would see many of them having to take unpaid leave from work, just for the honour of playing for their country.

Griggs [see his line at the start] appeared to be dead-batting the quarantine question, on Thursday, but he must have been aware of the work going on behind the scenes to get France, who are exempt from quarantining measures due to their own government’s guidelines, over to Dublin.

All told, it was a lovely gesture of solidarity from a French side still very much in contention for the title.

‘I figured I should stick to the rugby’

As Griggs left our laptop screens, we then got Dorothy Wall joining us from her abode and excited to be making her first Ireland start after some superb ‘finisher’ displays off the bench, earlier this year.

The Tipperary native spoke well about her basketball background, being the young gun in the Irish back row and her placement work, in radiography, at St Vincent’s Hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I started playing basketball in school on the midlands team and I was on a bit of a development Irish squad as well,” said Wall.

“I hurt myself but, yeah, that was my main love for four years. I then played a season of rugby with Munster underage with Enya Breen and Emily Lane and came back [to basketball] and got fouled off in first game so figured I should stick to the rugby!”

“My three brothers always played [rugby] and my Dad was afraid I was going to get hurt,” she continued. “Then one year I said, ‘Look Dad, I’ll be grand, I’ll get a good gum shield and fire away’.”

Wall is in an Irish back row with the experienced duo of Ciara Griffin (32 caps) and Claire Molloy (69 caps), who has returned from a break away from the team as she worked in a Cardiff A&E department and completed a study block.

“Claire is such a wealth of knowledge and a calm head on the pitch,” said Wall. “I’m trying to be a leech of her and Ciara, so I can take all that experience in and we can all perform.”

Wall, and her other teammates that work in hospitals and other healthcare fields, are living a paradox of steering clear of contact and following guidelines, for their jobs, only to go out and slam into people and tackle pads on the training pitch.

“All the precautions are taking place in the hospital… obviously everything is going to be at the highest levels there,” she said. “Getting on the pitch and in contact, I like contact and I suppose I missed it. I wouldn’t say I look forward to getting out of the hospital and going hitting a few people, but I enjoy the contact!”

The Walls are all invested in Dorothy’s journey and the Munster star jokes she must get between seven and eight texts and calls a day from her mum and granny.

“They’ll all be watching down in Tipperary and, oh God, I’m sure I’ll have post-match analysis from them all!”

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