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Ireland Women’s World Cup Squad

Ireland Women’s World Cup Squad

02/05/02.Cooke three-quarter Suzanne Fleming will lead an Ireland squad dominated by Munster and Ulster players at next month’s women’s World Cup in Spain.

The 27-year old, who first captained her country at the European Championships on Spanish soil two years ago, is one of half a dozen survivors from the 1998 World Cup in Holland and will be accompanied by seven Ulster colleagues.

Munster’s status as interpro champions is reflected by the inclusion of 11 of the Ladies in Red, including vice-captain Fiona Steed and veteran hooker Elaine Collins, who both featured in the tournament eight years ago. Waterloo wing Fiona Neary and the Blackrock pair of prop Maura Coulter and New Zealand-born lock Anne-Marie McAllister were also in Amsterdam last time, but the other 20 players are looking forward to their first World Cup.

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Eight of the UL Bohs team which recently won the women’s AIL title will be on the plane, with beaten finalists Shannon supplying four, Cooke five and Blackrock three, including diminutive Ulster back three player Joy Sparkes.
Props Edel Coen and French-born Magali Dolo fly the flag for Highfield and Old Belvedere respectively.
There are four exiles in Neary, Richmond’s Canadian-born loose forward Eryka Wessell, who will be hoping to face the land of her birth in the opening match on May 13, Worcester midfielder Nicky Milne and Yorkshire-based doctor, Bridget Montgomery.
Back-rower Montgomery appears to be winning a race to be fit after badly damaging her collar-bone in training the morning of the final Six Nations match in France, while Munster lock Maeve Quirke has almost recovered from a shoulder injury.

The Shannon quartet includes Steed, girlfriend of Ireland prop John Hayes,
and two players with famous family ties in lock Rosie Foley, sister of Anthony, and teenage three-quarter Rachel Tucker, daughter of 1980 Lion Colm.
Their clubmate, frontrower Jean Lonergan, and two former Shannon stars, brilliant fullback Sarahjane Belton and her UL Bohs captain, centre
Patrique Kelly, are three young players expected to have a major impact on the tournament. Experienced Connacht campaigners, No 8 Mary O’Loughlin and half back
Rochelle Howell along with rookie Munster winger Lynn Cantwell and reserve pivot Louise Beamish complete the large UL Bohs contingent. Fleming’s Cooke colleagues are club captain, prop Gillian McAllister, Ulster skipper and place-kicking blindside Rachel Reid, powerful three-quarter Rachel Boyd and scrumhalf Karen Eagleson, daughter of current
Ulster Branch President, Joe.
Waterloo’s Ulster pivot Joleen Morton has been unavailable all season due
to the World Cup clashing with her Veterinary finals, with Munster midfielder Karen McCarthy ruled out by work commitments. Wasps great Cath Mulalley, due to captain Ireland in the 1994 World Cup only to be sidelined by a broken collarbone, loses out again, paying a heavy price for missing a couple of mid-season squad sessions in a saga with striking similarities to the Colin Charvis controversy in Wales.

IRELAND SQUAD: (backs): SJ Belton (UL Bohs/Munster), J Sparkes (Blackrock/Ulster), L Cantwell (UL Bohs/Munster), F Neary(Waterloo/Ulster), S Fleming (capt), R Boyd (both Cooke/Ulster), R Tucker (Shannon/Munster), P
Kelly (UL Bohs/Munster), N Milne (Worcester/Connacht), R Howell (UL Bohs/Connacht), K Eagleson (Cooke/Ulster), L Beamish (UL Bohs/Munster);

Forwards: M Coulter (Blackrock/Leinster), J Lonergan (Shannon/Munster), E
Collins (UL Bohs/Munster), M Dolo (Old Belvedere/Leinster), E Coen (Highfield/Munster), G McAllister (Cooke/Ulster), R Foley
(Shannon/Munster), A-M McAllister (Blackrock/Leinster), M Quirke (UL Bohs/Munster), M O’Loughlin (UL Bohs/Connacht), R Reid (Cooke/Ulster), B Montgomery (Ripon/Leinster), E Wessell (Richmond/Ulster), F Steed (Shannon/Munster).