An Ireland Under-19 Provincial squad took part in the UK School Games in Sheffield at the weekend and finished a very creditable fourth in the Sevens tournament.
The success of the Ireland Women’s Sevens squad in qualifying for the World Series combined with raised profile of Women’s rugby thanks to last season’s Grand Slam win means that more girls are willing to ‘Give It A Try’.
The Ireland Under-19 Provincial side marks another step in the progression of developing a flow of players to sustain the burgeoning Women’s Sevens programme.
The aim for these young women now is a place in the Emerging Ireland Women’s Sevens squad with an eye on the Olympic Games in Rio 2016.
The girls were selected as part of a detailed screening programme that started back in June to identify a squad of players for the UK School Games.
We could even one day be looking at sisters lining out for Ireland as Erin Caughey, who featured for the Under-19s, is the younger sister of Nikki who played for the Women’s at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow during the summer.
Five training camps followed and the final squad of twelve players was selected following the last camp.
On Saturday the U-19 squad kicked off the tournament with two fantastic wins, beating Wales Dragons ‘B’ 29-0 and England North 28-5.
A 17-all draw with England South West and a 28-12 victory over Scotland later in the day saw them top of their pool at the end of the first day and with a semi-final place in the bag.
The semi final against England South West proved to be a real cliff-hanger. Ireland trailed by 5-0 at half-time but came back in the second half to earn a 12-all draw.
Extra-time and a penalty shoot-out could not separate them until the game went into ‘golden score’ territory with the Irish girls just losing out.
The bronze medal game saw come them up against the London & South West side who were just too strong and took third place by 15-5.
Speaking after the tournament, the Ireland U-19 Provincial squad’s coach Stan McDowell said: “I am very proud of this achievement. These girls came together back in July and to play so well after only five training camps shows the level of committment they have given.
“We didn’t have any preconceived ideas about where we would finish, but this squad have measured themselves against the best and have not been found wanting.
“Topping the group on day one was a huge boost and a fourth place finish is something we can be very proud of.”
IRELAND UNDER-19 PROVINCIAL GIRLS Squad:
Erin Caughey (Malone/Ulster)
Meadbh Donohoe (Tullow/Leinster)
Aoife Doyle (Shannon/Munster)
Irene Herlihy (Mallow/Munster)
Sorcha Holohan (Rugbai Corca Dhuibhne/Munster)
Mairead Hopkins (Ballina/Connacht)
Shannen Lane (Cavan/Leinster)
Emma Murphy (Railway Union/Leinster)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Clanwilliam/Munster)
Niamh O’Sullivan (Mallow/Munster)
Jayne Pennefeather (Carrigaline/Munster)
Muireann Scully (Cill Dara/Leinster)
Management Team –
Coach – Stan McDowell
Manager – Ruth O’Reilly
Physio – Eimear Ní Fhallúin
Strength & Conditioning – Marian Earls
Related Links –
Give It A Try – Club open days for women and girls interested in playing rugby