LAURA Sheehan has all the skills to make an impact with Ireland this Sunday.
The Urhan woman will make her senior international debut when Ireland take on the USA in a November Test in Donnybrook, 1pm kick-off.
It’s no surprise to Munster women’s head coach Laura Guest, from Clonakilty, to see her fellow West Cork woman handed her senior Ireland debut.
Former Irish international Guest has coached Sheehan with Munster these past few seasons and has also watched her star for UL Bohemians. She knows better than most just how good Sheehan is.
‘Laura has excellent acceleration and footwork. As a winger you need out-and-out speed, and Laura has that,’ Guest says.
‘You can’t buy the speed she has but you can improve it and she works incredibly hard with our strength and conditioning coach Lorna Barry. Throughout the entire season Laura was half an hour early for every single session, there were three players out working with Lorna on their footwork, their acceleration, their change of speed and their take-off speed. That’s one of Laura’s real strengths, she is a very powerful winger.
‘What she is too is a real modern winger as she goes looking for ball in-field and she runs aggressive, hard lines. Her defence is excellent as well, she doesn’t really have a weakness in her game, which is what you need in the modern game now.’
Sheehan (25) has been named in a new-look Ireland back three that also includes Lauren Delany and Eimear Considene, and a good performance on Sunday will see her in the frame to face England in Twickenham the following weekend.
It would also help increase her chances of earning a place on the Ireland squad for the Six Nations early next year.
‘Laura was one of the the in-form wingers in the country this season, she played well with Munster in the inter-pros too and that put her in good stead,’ Guest explains.
‘At the same time, Ireland training camps are tough places to be. Laura has had to work really hard to turn that club form into impressing in the Ireland set-up. It’s survival of the fittest once you are called into the squad so she has earned this chance.’
Guest added: ‘This is all Laura’s hard work really coming to fruition. It doesn’t always work that way for players – but Laura is a special talent. She has a massive work ethic, is a ball of positivity, will do absolutely anything to improve and at the same point is a really lovely person.
‘It’s fantastic to see her progress on and get a first cap. It’s a great opportunity against America to get a footing in the Irish team. You get a chance with a jersey, what you do with it then makes it yours or not. Hopefully, Laura will have a great start to her international career.’
A shoulder injury ruled Skibbereen’s Enya Breen out of contention but Guest believes she’ll come back stronger than ever and work her way back in the Ireland management’s thinking for the Six Nations.