LIMERICK has had a close-up look at the Women’s Rugby World Cup trophy as 'inspirational' Ireland captain Niamh Briggs arrived in style to Arthur’s Quay Park in the city.
The Munster full-back was escorted up the River Shannon by Limerick Marine Search and Rescue along with Nevsail kayakers as she made her way to the jetty at the park, to be officially met by Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Stephen Keary.
The prestigious trophy arrived in Limerick as part of its nationwide tour of Ireland ahead of next month’s World Cup, which takes place in Dublin and Belfast.
Speaking to the Limerick Leader ahead of the buildup to the World Cup, Niamh – a garda based at Roxboro – described her pride and excitement at captaining the Irish side on home soil.
“I’m really looking forward to the World Cup. It has been a long road back from injury for me and I’m just really looking forward to getting playing again. I’m really excited. We understand that our group is really hard but we are very well prepared," she said.
“We have been training really well and as a group we are in a good place so I’m just looking forward to it now.”
Describing the buildup to the finals and the trophy event in Limerick, the UL Bohemian star took time to praise her new teammate and Garryowen native Nicole Cronin, who enters the World Cup squad as the side’s only uncapped player and was with Niamh at Arthur's Quay Park to meet fans.
“She’s awesome. The reason she hasn’t been capped so far is because of injury reasons, because she’s super, a really good player," said Limerick-based Niamh.
“She has a super personality on and off the pitch. It’s brilliant for the squad and I’m looking forward to seeing her line-up at the World Cup,” she added.
A crowd of loyal rugby fans waited anxiously to take a look at the trophy which was also held aloft by Irish Women’s Rugby Head Coach and Limerickman, Tom Tierney.
“Being a Limerick man born and bred it’s very special to see the crowds come out today and the trophy tour culminating in the home of Irish rugby," he said of his native city.
“Limerick is the home of Irish rugby for both men and women and all the girls will be looking forward to putting in a big performance in the World Cup,” added the Fairgreen native.
The Women’s Rugby World Cup kicks off on August 9 with pool stage games taking place in Dublin before the games move to Belfast for the latter stages of tournament.
Tierney’s side face a tough task of qualifying from their group with games against Japan, France and Australia in the competition.
Mayor Keary hailed Niamh as a "fantastic ambassador for the game and you only need to look at the faces of the many young girls here today who really look up to her and find her achievements truly inspirational".
He paid tribute also to the other four Limerick based girls in the squad, Eimear Considine, Anna Caplice, Ciara Griffin and Nicole, wishing them "the very best of luck and hopefully they’ll be back here to Limerick in a few weeks after the World Cup with the trophy again!”