The Munster Women’s senior team are in their final preparations for this weekend’s all important Interprovincial final against Leinster at the Northern Ireland Civil Service Sports Pavillion in Belfast.
2008/09 WOMEN’S INTERPROVINCIAL FINALS: Saturday, October 25
Championship Final –
Leinster v Munster, Northern Ireland Civil Service Sports Pavillion, Belfast, 2pm
Third-Fourth Place Play-Off –
Connacht v Ulster, Northern Ireland Civil Service Sports Pavillion, Belfast, 12pm
To date this season Munster have been undefeated and are currently aiming to retain the Interprovincial title for the third consecutive year.
The third-fourth place play-off will see Ulster take on Connacht in what will be an entertaining match, however, it will be all eyes on the final when the Munster women look to build on their previous performance against Leinster in what should prove to be a close and hard fought battle.
Munster beat Leinster 14-10 earlier in this campaign and will be looking to build on their performance for this Saturday’s game.
It is evident when speaking to Munster coach Fiona Steed that she is looking forward to the match following the squad’s hard work over the past number of months.
“I am delighted with the level of commitment shown by our entire squad since we started training on July 12,” Steed said.
“We have a large squad of 32 players and each of them has contributed to what have been highly intensive and competitive training sessions and made squad selection very challenging.”
In the opinion of team captain Eimear O’Sullivan, the Interprovincial campaign is a good chance for new players to come through and get a chance to play at a higher standard for a few months at least.
She added that ‘this year sees a large number of new faces in the Munster set-up and along with the oldies we’re all gelling really nicely and the young guns have really stepped up to the mark.’
It is the public conception that the standard of Women’s rugby is rising year on year and Steed echoed those thoughts.
“The Interpro championship this year has been of a very high standard and we have had to work very hard for each of our victories to date.
“We are now in the position that we set out at the start of the season and that is with the opportunity to defend our Interpro title next Saturday.
“Looking ahead to the final, I anticipate a fierce battle with Leinster as there has only been a score between us on each of the last two occasions that we have played.”
In their round-robin game in September, Leinster gave Munster a tough test but their performance was not enough to stop Munster from coming out victorious by 14-10.
In a keenly contested affair, the Ray Ward-coached Leinster were on the back foot throughout most of the game, despite taking the lead on two occasions.
After losing to Munster in the 2007/08 Interpro season by a point in the dying minutes, and added to the recent defeat, Leinster will be all out for revenge this Saturday.
The Munster women have been fortunate to have guest coaches Ken O’Connell, Paul Darbyshire and Noel O’Meara working with the squad on different occasions this year and each has added a new dimension to their game.
In addition, Paul McCarthy’s expertise around scrum time has been invaluable.
Steed added: “I would urge all Munster supporters who are heading north for the men’s clash to head up a little earlier and lend your support to the women of Munster who are aiming for their third Interprovincial title in-a-row.”
Leinster Women Squad: Orla Brennan, Claire Byrne, Debbie Clarke, Fiona Coghlan (capt), Julie Craig, Grace Davitt, Gail Doyle, Shona Doyle, Edel Farrell, Paula Fitzpatrick, Orla Fitzsimmons, Shannon Houston, Caroline Mahon, Sharon McKeown, Yvonne Nolan, Deirdre O’Brien, Mary Louise O’Reilly, Claire Peters, Tania Rosser, Aoife Ryan, Sinead Ryan, Jackie Shiels.
Munster Women: Niamh Briggs (Clonmel); Sandra Williams (Nenagh), Lynne Cantwell (UL Bohemians), Patrique Kelly (UL Bohemians), Sarah Jane Cody (UL Bohemians); Helen Brosnan (Highfield), Louise Beamish (UL Bohemians); Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians), Chris Fanning (Highfield), Marie Barrett (Ballincollig), Kate O’Loughlin (Clonmel), Deirdre Scannell (Ballincollig), Paula O’Connor (Shannon/UL Bohemians), Eimear O’Sullivan (Ballincollig), Joy Neville (UL Bohemians).
Replacements: Natasha O’Keeffe (Clonmel), Jo O’Meara (Waterpark), Sinead Fitzpatrick (Waterpark), Orlaith Buckley (Waterpark), Clara Bracken (Waterpark), Nicole Fitzgerald (UL Bohemians), Nicola Aherne (Highfield).
Connacht Women Squad: to be confirmed
Ulster Women: Eliza Downey (Cooke); Amy Davis (Blackrock), Suzanne Fleming (Cooke), Laura Nicholl (Cooke), Clodagh McCool (City of Derry); Jo O’Sullivan (Richmond), Noreen Nethercott (City of Derry); Lauren Day (Cooke), Jess Limbert (Cooke), Emma Lowe (Cooke), Jennifer Lynch (Queen’s University Belfast), Joni Swanston (Richmond), Rachel Boyd (Cooke), Cathy Maguire (Cooke), Imogen Porter (Cooke).
Replacements: Maxine McMorris (Harlequins), Stacey-Lea Jackson (City of Derry), Nkita Armstrong (Carrick), Jolene Cloughy (Harlequins), Kerry Maxwell (Cooke), Laura Stewart (Cooke), Una McKay (Cooke).