Munster kick off the defence of their Women’s Interprovincial title this weekend when they play Ulster in the opening round of the competition.
Munster, led this season by Eimear O’Sullivan, are looking for their third title in a row but will face intense competition from the northerners as well as Leinster who have pushed them extremely close in recent seasons.
The team to play this weekend has a familiar look to it though and O’Sullivan adds that the squad has been working on a number of different combinations.
“We are missing a few key players from last year’s squad, either through injury or unavailability, and this has opened the door for the new younger players coming through and we have been really impressed with the standard,” she said.
Munster will be favourites against Ulster this weekend as though the northern team are always committed, they have failed to match the standards set in recent seasons by their opponents as well as Leinster, who have also moved on to new levels but they are still capable of making life very difficult for the champions.
“We never underestimate Ulster,” admitted O’Sullivan, who will line out for Ballincollig this season.
“They are always one of the toughest and most physical teams to play against. They have a lot of very experienced players and I think the new ELVs will suit their style of game but we will be going all out to win.”
Coached this year again by Donal O’Driscoll and Fiona Steed, O’Sullivan said that there is intense competition in the Munster squad for starting places.
“There is huge competition for places in the squad this year. There are some key players coming back from injury and others on the team that are being pushed every week by some of the new players coming through.
“It’s very exciting to see these players coming through and I think these players are going to shine this year.”
WOMEN’S INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – OPENING FIXTURES:
Saturday, September 13 –
Ulster v Munster, Ravenhill, kick-off 1.30pm
Connacht v Leinster, The Sportsground, kick-off 2.30pm
Munster Women’s Squad 2008/09: Nicola Ahern (Highfield), Marie Barrett (Ballincollig), Louise Beamish (UL Bohs), Helen Brosnan (Highfield), Clara Bracken (Waterpark), Niamh Briggs (Clonmel), Orla Buckley (Waterpark), Gillian Burke (UL Bohs), Lynne Cantwell (UL Bohs), Anna Caplis (Mallow), Sarajane Cody (UL Bohs), Gemma Crowley (Ballincollig), Chris Fanning (Highfield), Nicole Fitzgerald (UL Bohs), Sinead Fitzpatrick (Waterpark), Jetty Feighrey (UL Bohs), Catherine Hogan (Waterpark/Clanwilliam*ds), Heather McLaughlin (Highfield), Carol Murphy (UL Bohs), Teresa Nolan (Ballincollig), Joy Neville (UL Bohs), Jo O’Meara (Waterpark), Frances O’Keefe (Highfield), Heather O’Brien (TBC), Natasha O’Keeffe (Clonmel), Kate O’Loughlin (Clonmel), Eimear O’Sullivan (Ballincollig), Deirdre Scannell (Ballincollig), Liz Tye (Kinsale), Sandra Williams (Nenagh), Fran Whooley (Ballincollig).