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Women’s All-Ireland League Gets Underway

Women’s All-Ireland League Gets Underway

UL Bohemians will begin the defence of their Women’s All-Ireland League Division 1 title at home to Highfield on Sunday, as a full programme of matches in the top flight and Division 2 North and South kickstarts the Women’s club season into gear.

A star-studded UL Bohs team swept all before them last season, securing a Women’s All-Ireland League and Cup double, and Joy Neville and company are likely to be the side to beat again this year.

In recent years their main rivals have been Blackrock, who were crowned champions in 2008.

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Blackrock have strengthened their backroom team with the addition of forwards coach Keith Murphy, with Ireland international duo Tania Rosser and Amy Davis looking after the backs and conditioning aspects respectively.

‘Rock start with a mouth-watering Leinster derby away to a Navan outfit that has been improving year on year.

Cooke, the only Ulster side in the top flight, face a long trip south to face Ballincollig, while Sunday’s opening Division 1 fixtures are completed by the clash of Galwegians and Clonmel at Crowley Park.

Last year’s reverse fixture in Clonmel saw ‘Wegians suffer a narrow and controversial late defeat with the result that Sunday’s encounter should prove to be a case of settling scores for Emer O’Dowd’s side.

Women’s rugby in Ireland is going from strength to strength with standards improving each year across all levels.

Figures in the IRFU’s 2008/09 Annual Report show that there are now 2,491 women playing rugby in Ireland – up from 1,799 in 2008.

In his report, IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne gave some background to the developments made, on and off the pitch.

“In 2008, the Irish Women’s Rugby Football Union integrated into the IRFU. The IRFU now represents both the male and female disciplines of the game,” he wrote.

“The integration process, led by Denis Keohane, occurred a year ahead of schedule.

“An early sign of the benefits of integration was the success of the Irish national Women’s team who, under the leadership of coach Steven Hennessy, finished third in the 2009 Women’s Six Nations and automatically qualified for the 2010 Women’s World Cup in England. This is the best ever result for the Women’s team.

“The Women’s game continues to grow in Ireland, and with the continued support of the Irish Sports Council’s ‘Women In Sport’ programme, it is the Union’s intention to increase the resources to this emerging area of the game.

“The growth of the Women’s game creates a number of opportunities for the Union through opening up a new population of participants, increasing volunteerism and the vibrancy of our clubs.”

We will have a full round-up from the opening weekend’s games in the Women’s All-Ireland League on the site on Monday.

Click here for full fixture lists for Women’s All-Ireland League Division 1, Division 2 North and Division 2 South.