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Women set to Slam onto our TV screens

ITALY v Ireland, Parabiago Milan, Sunday 1.30 – RTé2

The Six Nations championship is one achievement; the Grand Slam quite another.

Coach Phillip Doyle will stress the importance of putting the increased media attention to one side as RTé have made the unprecedented decision to cover this match live on television. There has to be a degree of sympathy for centre Jenny Murphy, who has lost out to a hamstring strain, and wing Ashleigh Baxter, who has been demoted.

Grace Davitt will start at 12 inside the experienced Lynn Cantwell and outside the on-form Nora Stapleton at fly-half.

Niamh Kavanagh (right) wins the right to the number 14 jersey ahead of Baxter and Heather O'Brien and Shannon Houston have been inserted into the replacements. "It's a testament to Ross Callaghan's strength and conditioning of the squad that we have got this far without injury," said Doyle, in what is a stark contrast to the physical state of the men's squad.

Italy have faded after what were thrilling defeats of France (13-12) and Scotland (8-0) on the first and second days to let their standards slip slightly against Wales (16-15).

They looked a jaded and overpowered proposition in their most recent outing, a resounding 34-0 whitewash to England last Saturday.

Ireland have too much to gain, too much to lose, too many experienced players and too much firepower in wing Allison Miller and full-back Niamh Briggs to let the Italians scupper the greatest day in the history of Women's rugby.

Verdict: Ireland

Ireland: N Briggs; N Kavanagh, L Cantwell, G Davitt, A Miller; N Stapleton, L Muldoon; F Coghlan, G Bourke, A Egan, S Spence, ML Reilly, S Fleming, C Molloy, J Neville.


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