The Irish Rugby Football Union today announced the Ireland Under-18 Girls Sevens squad to take part in the 2014 Sainsbury's UK School Games which will take place in Manchester from September 4-7.
The 12-strong squad were selected after 200 girls, from a wide range of sporting backgrounds including GAA, hockey, athletics, gymnastics, basketball and rugby, attended open screening days held throughout the country in April.
The selected panel of players is coached by Stan McDowell and captained by Jayne Pennefather. Jayne and her team-mates Meabh Donohoe, Irene Herlihy and Shannen Lane were part of the Irish squad which finished fourth in the tournament last year.
Announcing the current squad, McDowell said: "We are delighted to name the squad to take place in the UK School Games in Manchester. Women's rugby is on a high after great performances by the senior team in recent years and we were very pleased to have had over 200 girls from across the country try out for the squad in early April.
"The UK School Games represents a fantastic opportunity for the 12 girls selected to participate in a multi-sport event featuring 12 different sports with over 1,700 athletes creating an experience they will long remember."
IRELAND UNDER-18 GIRLS SEVENS Squad (Sainsbury's UK School Games, Manchester, September 4-7, 2014):
All 31 players trained fully at Newport High School this morning as the Ireland squad stepped up their preparations for Sunday's Pool D showdown with France. Check out some photos from today's session.
Speaking ahead of Ireland's crunch clash with France, scrum half Eoin Reddan said: "Everyone trained very hard today. Obviously we've a huge game at the weekend. We're all in no doubt about how much it means to people back home, and how much it means to us here."
Ireland prop Mike Ross talks about the preparations for Sunday's showdown with France. He also noted there is very little between the two teams at present, mentioning Ireland's 2014 and 2015 wins but also the fact that France have 'a much better World Cup record than we do.'
Looking forward to Ireland's Pool D decider with France next Sunday, hooker Sean Cronin said: "There's a great buzz around the squad. These big games are what you look forward to when it comes to World Cup time."
The gym isn't just about lifting weights, and different players require different loads depending on the training programmes. Strength and conditioning coach John Kiely and Iain Henderson talk us through today's session at Celtic Manor.
Iain Henderson feels this is 'more than likely the best Ireland team ever to compete in a World Cup'. "If we get all our stuff right, our set piece, and get some good counter attack, I don't see any reason why we can't turn the French over," he said, speaking ahead of Sunday's Pool D decider.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt announces the team to play Italy in the Rugby World Cup on Sunday and gives an update on the fitness of Jared Payne and Rob Kearney. Jonathan Sexton also talks about playing with a new centre pairing.
Ireland team manager Michael Kearney says Robbie Henshaw has trained fully this week and is available for selection for the Italy game. Meanwhile, the injuries sustained by Rob Kearney (glute strain) and Jared Payne (bruised foot) are being monitored.
Plyometrics, movement speed work, jump work and some heavy loaded lifting - all in a day's work for the Ireland squad as they hit the gym at Surrey Sports Park today. Strength and conditioning coach Jason Cowman and Ireland centre Darren Cave talk us through the session.
Ireland team manager Michael Kearney talks about the incredible atmosphere created by the Ireland fans for the Canada game and looks forward to a similar backing for Joe Schmidt's men against Romania at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.