Reports that this match was abandoned because Ashleigh Baxter was smashing too many of the Welsh around with her hard as nails tackling is a bit of an exaggeration, but only a bit!
The official version is that Scottish referee Kevin White called the game off at half-time for health and safety reasons, with the pitch hardening in the freezing temperatures but unofficial reports to the Front Row Union tell us that it was the tackling of the formidable trio of Ulster starlet Baxter, Ulster veteran Grace Davitt and Ireland Women’s “Brian O’Driscoll” in the shape of Niamh Briggs, that had the referee reaching for the smelling salts at the break!
Ireland started strongly and, roared on by a big home crowd, dominated the opening exchanges. Despite enjoying the bulk of possession it was well towards the end of the opening quarter before Baxter and Lynn Cantwell combined to create space for winger Alison Miller. The Highfield flier still had plenty to do but she outpaced the defence and finished close to the posts allowing Briggs to convert. Ireland 7 Wales 0.
Wales upped the tempo and Ireland relaxed, allowing the visitors back in the game, forcing the home side to defend doggedly throughout the second quarter. Despite having a player binned late on Wales managed to pull back three points with a well struck penalty but Ireland responded deep into injury time with Briggs slotting over a penalty with the final kick of the half.
With player safety paramount, the decision was taken to halt proceedings prematurely. The match result does not stand, a replay was offered for tomorrow but Wales declined.
The Six Nations sub-committee will meet next week to set a date for a replay between the teams at the same County Meath venue.
Ireland Women: (15-9) Ashleigh Baxter, Niamh Kavanagh , Niamh Briggs, Grace Davitt, Alison Miller, Lynne Cantwell, Amy Davis. (1-8) Fiona Coghlan, Gillian Bourke, Ailis Egan, Marie Louise Reilly, Sophie Spence, Laura Guest, Claire Molloy, Joy Neville. (16-22) Paula Fitzpatrick, Ruth O’Reilly, Siobhan Fleming, Heather O’Brien, Larissa Muldoon, Nikki Caughey.