Wicklow and Tinahely ladies football star Lucy Mulhall could well be on the road to Rio with Katie Taylor if all goes to plan.
20 year old Lucy signed a three month contract with the Irish rugby sevens side last weekend.
Scouts spotted the Tinahely forward while she was playing football for Wicklow. Lucy then joined the squad on a trip to Amsterdam.
Lucy told Wicklownews.net “I’m thrilled this has happened, but there is also a down side as I have to give up football and I owe everything to the Tinahely ladies from juvenile right up to senior and the Wicklow ladies county team.”
The goal Lucy scored for Wicklow ladies against New York in the All-ireland final was chosen as one of the goals of of the year (See the goal here)
Rugby sevens will be played at the Olympics for the first time in 2016.
The IRB have revealed three pathways in which the Ireland Women’s Sevens squad can qualify for the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The top four in the 2015 world series table — Ireland are currently ranked eleventh of 12 — are guaranteed to join host nation Brazil.
John Skurr’s squad will struggle to be involved in all six world series events next year as it will be trimmed to seven tier one nations.
The next qualification route would be to win a European tournament next year and failing that four more European sides will make it via the final Olympic Qualification tournament. That could take place as late as June 2016, with the date to be confirmed in November.
Fiona Coghlan’s Grand Slam winning squad have committed to defending their 15 aside Six Nations title and preparing for the World Cup next August in France.
It means Skurr brings a notably weakened squad to Atlanta and Sao Paolo for this month’s world series events. Coghlan leads Ireland against Wales tomorrow in Ashbourne and against England at Twickenham on February 22nd.
However, moves are afoot to entice the 15 -a-side players back into a centralised Sevens programme.
“We believe that 15s and Sevens are symbiotic,” said IRFU director of rugby Eddie Wigglesworth. “They need to exist and feed off each other because Sevens will benefit from that.”
Wigglesworth was asked if it’s feasible to have a separate career (women’s rugby is amateur) while playing both Sevens and 15-a-side for Ireland in a calendar year? “I absolutely believe it is.”
It was put to him that the Grand Slam winning squad disagree. “If we had a properly managed environment between fifteens and sevens it is doable.”
The Sevens programme currently operates on the DCU campus alongside Dublin’s Gaelic football panel. Many of the current group are learning the skills of rugby for the first time having transferred, via the talent identification programme, from Gaelic games, hockey and athletics.
“We have stated in our submission [for funding] to the Irish Sports Council that we will be going after a podium position in Rio,” Wigglesworth continued.
“There are challenges we have to face in that. We have to deal with the IRB in terms of conflict with the competition structures because the IRB have blinkers on in terms of Sevens. They see Sevens as a Pandora’s Box in terms of opening up the global game and in the interim they haven’t managed the interface between Sevens and fifteens terribly well.
“That poses challenges for us in terms of the girls as it puts them into a position of choice between two national jerseys.”
A total of €1.1million of the Sevens programme comes from the Irish Sport Council with Wigglesworth stating that’s “30 percent of the total cost of the programme with the IRFU funding the rest.”
The union have no plans to revive the men’s sevens programme. On the issue of a Britain team qualifying, the IRB stated: “With regard to the qualification process for Britain, if more than one team from England, Scotland and Wales qualify to participate as core teams in the 2014/15 IRB Women’s Sevens World Series, then by no later than 30 June, 2014 the BOA must designate the lead team which solely will be able to obtain qualification for Britain to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.”