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Women’s League Titles On The Line In Naas

Women’s League Titles On The Line In Naas

The Women’s All-Ireland League season comes to an exciting conclusion in Naas on Saturday as four of the best club teams in the country – Division 1 finalists Old Belvedere and Highfield and Division 2’s Railway Union and Cooke – compete for national titles.



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Old Belvedere have been the stand-out team in this season’s Women’s All-Ireland League, winning all seven of their games in Division 1 – with five try-scoring bonus points to boot.

They followed up by dethroning last year’s champions UL Bohemians at the semi-final stage last weekend, with Ireland star Jenny Murphy scoring the only try in a 13-6 win at Anglesea Road.

The result saw ‘Belvo avenge a one-point loss to Bohs last season and Murphy’s international colleague Nora Stapleton was in fine form with the boot, landing a conversion and two penalties as well as kicking astutely out of hand.

A key feature of their successful campaign to date has been their consistently strong scrum, led by Ireland tighthead Ailish Egan with Sharon Lynch an influential figure at number 8.

The Dublin 4 club are chasing their first top flight crown and will take some stopping, as they look to repeat their 18-14 win over Highfield from the first round back in September.

That was Highfield’s only defeat of the seven-match league phase and the Cork side – contesting their third All-Ireland League decider – will be in determined mood under captain Heather O’Brien’s baton.

Number 8 O’Brien and her team-mates were desperately disappointed to lose the recent All-Ireland Cup decider to Galwegians, and all their focus is now on winning the club’s maiden league title.

Derek Houlihan’s charges finished second in the Division 1 table – four points behind ‘Belvo – and ran out 17-8 semi-final winners over Blackrock at Woodleigh Park last Saturday.

Tries in each half from Laura Guest and Geraldine Rea, who have a number of international caps between them, did the damage for Highfield against a dogged ‘Rock side.

Centres Rea and Nicola Scully both scored tries when Highfield came from 15-0 down against ‘Belvo in that league opener, but their comeback bid fell just short in the end.

Another tightly-contested encounter is expected on Saturday afternoon, and the difference may just be who comes out on top in the kicking battle between number 10s Stapleton and Norita Duggan.

Meanwhile, Railway Union and Cooke will take each other on for Division 2 honours in the curtain raiser at Forenaughts.

Railway come into the game on the back of a impressive 27-5 dismissal of Munster champions Nenagh, with Julie McGrath, Emma Murphy, Sarah Cranley, Aine Lucy and Eimear Flannery all crossing the whitewash.

Winning the league and clinching promotion to Division 1 would cap off a tremendous season for the Dubliners.

Their ever-influential front rower Shirley Corcoran, who is the Women’s director of rugby at Railway, has hinted at retirement so the Union girls will be hugely motivated for this final game.

Cooke venture south in equally buoyant form having claimed the Ulster honours last weekend with a 22-7 victory over local rivals Queen’s University.

Current Ireland internationals Grace Davitt (2) and Stacey-Lea Kennedy touched down along with Shirelle Wilson. The influence of Davitt and Kennedy could be crucial as the Belfast outfit aim to bounce straight back up to Division 1 after relegation last year.