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'Sideline' criticism always interesting, says Ireland coach Scott Bemand

Scott Bemand says he has full confidence in his leadership group after Ireland came under criticism following their Guinness Women's Six Nations defeat to Italy.

The new head coach dropped one of his co-captains, Edel McMahon, from the matchday squad for the game at the weekend, during which they enjoyed more possession and territory than their opponents.

In addition, the experienced Hannah O’Connor missed out, while they were able to welcome back the other co-captain, Sam Monaghan.

Former Ireland internationals Fiona Coghlan, the 2013 Grand Slam captain, and Lindsay Peat were on co-commentary and analysis duty for the game for RTÉ Sport.

They questioned some of the on-field decision-making, in particular turning down a straightforward shot at goal when they were leading 7-5 after half an hour.

Peat claimed the team looked "rudderless".

Ireland 21-27 Italy
Lindsay Peat feels Ireland would have been flattered to get away with a win against Italy and feels a lack of experience in the team selection cost the hosts#GuinnessW6N

"It’s always interesting what people on the sideline say [about] lack of leadership on the pitch when they are outside of the circle," said the 45-year-old Englishman.

"We’ve got some unbelievable leaders in our group and, look, the game looks different now to what it used to.

"We have strategy groups, we have co-captains, they are unbelievable leaders. So how quickly these girls are developing, they are already at a level, which is way beyond their years.

"They are going to keep developing experiences but as a group we absolutely buy into them and I wouldn’t want any other people in those groups."

Centre Eve Higgins, who along with Béibhinn Parsons and Aoibheann Reilly, changed over to