The Potlaoise and Cill Dara Under-15 Girls squads are set to make history on Saturday when they participate in the half-time rugby exhibition for the Leinster v Clermont Auvergne match at the Aviva Stadium.
The clubs, Portlaoise and Cill Dara, were selected to play in this fixture by the Leinster Branch Women’s Rugby Committee.
They will be the first female players to play at the new home of Irish rugby which only opened in June of this year.
The initial idea for girls rugby at Portlaoise Rugby Club came from members of the senior squad who recognised the need recruit girls at a younger age in order to develop greater skill levels and develop a much broader understanding of the game and therefore creating a stronger women’s team in the future.
Commencing on September 10, under the guidance of Jean Delahunty, Yvonne Delaney, Carrie Connell, Alison Miller and Youth co-ordinator Harry Nicholls, 15 girls turned up for their first training session.
After three months, this has increased to nearly 40 girls playing at either Under-15, Under-17 or Under-19 age levels.
The girls have played in a couple of training games to date. In preparation for Saturday’s game, Portlaoise hosted Cill Dara at Togher last Sunday afternoon.
The Cill Dara girls, who played their first official matches last season, are coming on in leaps and bounds. They are coached by Carmela Morey, Cara Scannell, Sarah Duignan and Sinead McBride.
The opportunity to play at the Aviva Stadium is a huge reward for all their efforts and the players will draw inspiration from Leinster’s Fergus McFadden, who is a former Cill Dara Youths player.
The current Portlaoise Girls squad is made up of Gaelic footballers, athletes, hockey players, camogie players and for some of Saturday’s team, being part of the first girls rugby game to be played at the Aviva Stadium is no doubt their biggest sporting highlight to date.
Traditionally, Laois women have excelled in sports such as Gaelic football and athletics and therefore the future of girls and ladies rugby in Portlaoise looks very bright indeed.
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