Ireland Women’s coach Kevin West has announced his first RBS 6 Nations team for the 2010 Championship opener against Italy at Ashbourne RFC on Friday night (kick-off 7.30pm).
Ireland coach Kevin West has included several familiar faces and a sprinkling of new talent with four new caps in the starting line-up.
Up front, team captain Fiona Coghlan, who will be winning her 49th cap at prop, is joined by Emer McManamly, earning her sixth, and the uncapped Chris Fanning of Highfield and Munster at hooker.
There is another new cap in the second row as Marie Louise Reilly joins Kate O’Loughlin. Reilly is from Navan RFC and should bring some strong local support to the game in Ashbourne.
The highly experienced Tania Rosser is at scrum half and will be partnered at number 10 by Joanne O’Sullivan. With a combined total of over 90 appearances, they should provide strong leadership in the back-line.
Nora Stapleton of Old Belvedere will earn her first cap on the right wing, with Alison Miller of Portlaoise making her debut on the left.
The Ireland Women’s squad are based in Ashbourne Rugby Club for their Championship campaign.
The club are pulling out all the stops to support the girls in green with buses set to ferry supporters from Dublin for the games and a big crowd expected for the three floodlit ties.
Ireland skipper Fiona Coghlan is looking forward to the first game and will not be taking Italy lightly.
“With Italy you don’t know from one year to the other what their game plan will be because they’re further away, without much press and without a lot of news about their club games. They are the unknown,” she admitted.
Getting to Ashbourne: The Bus Eireann 103 Bus leaves Beresford Place, accessible by the Luas Red line, every 20 minutes. Bus tickets cost €6.80 Adult day return and €4.20 child day return tickets.
Match tickets are available on the gate, priced at €10 (adult) and €5 (child).
IRELAND WOMEN’S Team & Replacements (v Italy Women, RBS Women’s 6 Nations Championship, Ashbourne RFC, Friday, February 5, kick-off 7.30pm):
15. Niamh Briggs (Clonmel – Munster)
14. Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere – Leinster)
13. Grace Davitt (Blackrock – Leinster)
12. Shannon Houston (Blackrock – Leinster)
11. Alison Miller (Portlaoise – Connacht)
10. Joanne O’Sullivan (Richmond – Exile)
9. Tania Rosser (Blackrock – Leinster)
1. Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians – Leinster) (capt)
2. Chris Fanning (Highfield – Munster)
3. Emer McManamly (Blackrock – Leinster)
4. Kate O’Loughlin (Clonmel – Munster)
5. Marie Louise Reilly (Navan – Leinster)
6. Carol Staunton (Galwegians – Connacht)
7. Claire Molloy (Bristol – Connacht)
8. Joy Neville (UL Bohemians – Munster)
16. Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians – Munster)
17. Lauren Day (Cooke – Ulster)
18. Caroline Mahon (UL Bohemians – Leinster)
19. Louise Austin (UL Bohemians – Munster)
20. Louise Beamish (UL Bohemians – Munster)
21. Helen Brosnan (Highfield – Munster)
22. Eliza Downey (Cooke – Ulster)
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