Saturday the 31st of July is one day I certainly won’t be forgetting in a hurry!
It was an early start for me as I travelled down to Malahide to meet up with squad before our visit to the Aviva Stadium. As I arrived I found the girls and management on the beach and I was met straight away with stories about an interesting game of rugby baseball that had just taken place. It was forwards versus backs an from what I gathered our captain, Fiona Coghlan’s competitive side came bursting out during the game as she ‘took out’ both Shannon Houston and Louise Austin 😉
After a feed we headed towards Dublin for the O2 Challenge encounter between Leinster/Ulster and Connacht/Munster, the first game to be played in the new stadium. The Aviva is built on the site of the old Lansdowne Road venue and can only be described as amazing.
As we arrived through the doors there was a choir singing, their voices filled the stadium and I think it was at that moment when I took my seat, absorbing in the atmosphere that I truly appreciated how lucky I was to be there, and to still be involved with such a wonderful squad.
Just before half time we were brought to the player’s entrance were we lined up nervously awaiting the half-time whistle. Led out onto the pitch by our Captain and Head Coach Philip Doyle we were presented to the crowd of 35,000 greeted by a hearty applause and a warm reception it was a feeling that I will never forget – and for that minute and a half we were the centre of attention, and the moment was ours.
We waved to the crowd as we walked back to our seats along the side of the pitch. Seeing the crowd on their feet as they cheered and applauded us was truly humbling and knowing that we were the first international side to walk onto the pitch felt amazing. One day (I’d love for it to been soon) I would love to be part of the first women’s international side to play there. The match finished up Leinster/Ulster 68 Connacht/Munster 0 which was a rather entertaining encounter.
We arrived back at the hotel that evening feeling closer together than ever before and during the team meeting we reflected on just how special the day actually was. Focus soon turned to Wales, the final game before the opening match of the World Cup. As I left that evening, I wished the all girls the best for the big game they had ahead of them. Although I wasn’t travelling with them, they all knew I’d be thinking about them every second of the game.
Good luck ladies… 🙂
PS Enjoy some pictures I took of our day 🙂
Until next time…