Connacht Tribune - Opinion Piece
Molloy hoping to lead Women’s Sevens side to World CupJune 20, 2012 - 1:59pm
Having recently guided her side through the first stage of qualification towards the 2013 World Cup Sevens, Ireland Sevens rugby captain Claire Molloy credits her Ladies football background as laying the foundation for her own personal success in the game to date.
Galway City native Molloy – who is also a member of the country’s 15-a-side international set-up – proved to be a central figure in Ireland’s European Sevens Championships qualification tournament success in Belgium recently . . . a tournament Ireland won following an impressive 29-0 final victory over Scotland.
Ireland, who entered the European circuit ranked 35th out of 35 teams, did not concede a single point over the course of the competition, defeating the established Czech Republic 40-0, hosts Belgium 31-0, Poland 43-0 and Israel 55-0 to book their place in the semi-final, where they massacred Georgia 51-0.
They now advance to the next stage of the championships, which take place in Moscow later this month. They have been seeded 14th out of the 16 teams participating and, following the draw on Monday, have been pooled with second-seeds Spain along with Italy and Sweden, who are ranked sixth and 10th respectively. Ireland need a top five finish to qualify for the Women’s World Cup next year.
Molloy is thoroughly enjoying her rugby at present and, although she often misses the cut and thrust of the Ladies football scene at club and county, she has few regrets regarding the sporting path she has chosen. As a matter of fact, she would encourage other ladies footballers to do the same.
“There are definitely lots of Gaelic footballers who I feel would love the chance to try their hands at rugby sevens,” says the multi-talented 23-years-old, who is a final year medicine student at Cardiff University in Wales. “Hopefully, the prospect of [playing in] the Olympics will tempt a few players out.”
In many respects, it has been this possibility that seems to have spurred the powers-that-be in this country into action, with the Ireland women’s Sevens team only founded in April of this year. The initial aim is qualification for the 2013 World Cup but after that one suspects the set-up will be gearing up for when the sport makes its debut at the 2016 Olympics.
“We don’t know what the plan is at the moment [regarding the Olympics],” says Molloy. “They haven’t announced the qualification system, but obviously Sevens is now an Olympic sport so Ireland getting involved in the set-up can only be positive.
“You know, though, with the wealth of talent that is in Ladies football and the athletes we have in this country, Ireland has the potential to have a fantastic Sevens team. So, you never know, we might see a few more Galway girls involved in the not-too-distant future.”
As it is, there is a strong ladies football representation in the Irish sevens squad, according to Molloy.
“There are quite a few of us Gaelic players. Jenny Murphy would have played for Kildare and Alison Miller would have lined out for Laois. Claire Keohane has played for Cork underage while Ashling Hutchinson, I think, is within the Cork set-up currently. So, there are quite a few football faces in there.”
In any event, the Irish captain believes Sevens rugby can only be good for women’s sport and for the high achievers it offers an outlet to compete at a higher, international level. For Molloy’s part, she is determined to make the most of an opportunity that, as she admits herself, to some degree came about as chance.
Securing her place at Cardiff University, Molloy needed a sporting outlet to replace Ladies football, which, up to then, had been such a big part of her life. For instance, in 2005, she gave a Player of the Match performance when Galway captured their second All-Ireland minor Ladies football title with victory over Donegal, and displays in that competition secured her a berth on the county’s senior side.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.