Outgoing Ireland head coach Philip Doyle has hailed his team’s journey from begging for training equipment to fourth place at the Women’s Rugby World Cup.
The Ireland team arrived home at Dublin Airport last night following a largely successful World Cup campaign, which included a historic victory over World Cup champions New Zealand, before bowing out at the semi-final stages of the tournament to eventual winners England.
Doyle steps down after two spells in charge since 2003 and outlined to RTÉ Sport just how far the team has come since he took over "from having to literally beg, steal and borrow cones and balls off people and beg to ask clubs could we hold a training session in their club."
Doyle added: “Myself and Michael Kelly [original bag man] started it all off. We’ve come a massive long way.”
Also departing the international scene is Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan, who retires after 85 international appearances, which included the historic Grand Slam in 2013.
An emotional Coghlan also spoke about how far the side has come.
“I’ve seen women’s rugby come from nowhere to where it is now so it’s brilliant,” the Clontarf prop said.
“It’s been a great journey and I’ve been honoured to play with some amazing people, and [had] amazing coaches along the way.”
Full-back Niamh Briggs, shortlisted for the IRB Women's Player of the Year award, added: “It’s very humbling to come back to a homecoming like this when we didn’t win a trophy but it’s great to see that we’ve touched so many people.
“We’d heard over in camp how well it had been going over here and the media coverage it had generated but we’d no idea what was going to happen and it’s unbelievable.”