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Crunch Time In Women’s Interpro Championship

Crunch Time In Women’s Interpro Championship

To borrow golfing parlance, today is ‘moving day’ in the IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship. Can Connacht and Ulster bounce back from their opening weekend defeats, or will Munster and Leinster keep on track to set up a title decider at Thomond Park next Saturday?


ROUND 2 – Saturday, August 29

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MUNSTER WOMEN v ULSTER WOMEN, Thomond Park, 2.30pm


Women’s Interpros Results/Fixtures/Table

Round 1 Review – Munster And Leinster Women Win On The Road

Munster Women’s head coach Wayne Falvey has made one change to the team that overcame Connacht 8-3 in a tight first round encounter at the Sportsground last weekend.

Highfield second row Róisín Ormond starts while her club colleague Gerda Coyne takes a place on the bench. Ireland star Niamh Briggs from UL Bohemians will continue to captain the side as her Munster squad bid to retain their Interprovincial title.

Meanwhile, Ulster Women’s coaches Philip Doyle and Jarrett Truscott have made three personnel and one positional switch to the team that has travelled south to Limerick.

The selected pack sees Shannon Heapes coming in to start at tighthead prop and Noreen Nethercott selected at blindside flanker, while Niamh Fitzgerald will move across the score to openside.

The only change in the back-line sees Queen’s University player Peita McAlister take a place on the right wing. Four players – Kelly Gormley, Sabrina Higgins, Shirelle Wilson and Erin Caughey – have been added to the replacements bench.

* Gates open at 1.30pm on the East side of Thomond Park.

MUNSTER WOMEN: Valerie Power (Shannon); Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Highfield), Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians), Nicola Scully (Highfield), Laura O’Mahony (Tralee); Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians) (capt), Ellen Murphy (Highfield); Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians), Amy Desmond (Highfield), Leah Lyons (Highfield), Róisín Ormond (Highfield), Elaine Anthony (Highfield), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee), Ciara Griffin (Tralee), Heather O’Brien (Highfield).

Replacements: Zoe Grattagh (Highfield), Maura Collins (Abbeyfeale), Niamh English (Highfield), Gerda Coyne (Highfield), Chloe Pearse (Shannon), Mona Fehily (Highfield), Jayne Pennefather (Highfield), Edel Murphy (UL Bohemians).

ULSTER WOMEN: Teah Maguire (Cooke); Peita McAlister (Queen’s University), Grace Davitt (Cooke), Claire McLaughlin (Queen’s University), Eliza Downey (Cooke); Jemma Jackson (Queen’s University), Kathryn Dane (Enniskillen); Ilse van Staden (Cooke), Lesley Megarity (Cooke) (capt), Shannon Heapes (City of Derry), Colette Broome (Queen’s University), Naomi McCullagh (Omagh), Noreen Nethercott (Enniskillen), Niamh Fitzgerald (Old Belvedere), Lauren Maginnes (Queen’s University).

Replacements: Kelly Gormley (City of Derry), Sabrina Higgins (Carrickfergus), Nikita Armstrong (Cooke), Sorcha Chipperfield (Cooke), Shirelle Wilson (Cooke), Imogen Porter (Queen’s University), Erin Caughey (Queen’s University), Stacey Sloan (City of Derry).

There is just one change to the Leinster Women’s team that defeated Ulster in their Championship opener, Janice Daly Morrissey coming in on the right wing to replace Martina McCarthy.

The starting pack remains the same, with experienced tighthead prop Ailis Egan leading the side from the front row alongside Fiona O’Brien and Sharon Lynch.

Ciara Cooney and Orla Fitzsimons are retained in the second row, and in the back row Paula Fitzpatrick will be flanked by World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year nominee, Sophie Spence, and Jennie Finlay.

The half-back pairing of Ailsa Hughes and Nora Stapleton remains the same from the win in Portadown. Stapleton converted four of Leinster’s six tries in the game, including her own in the second half.

The back-three consists of the aforementioned Daly Morrissey, Amy Cotter, who also crossed the whitewash for Leinster last time out, and Jeamie Deacon. The centre pairing of Aine Donnelly and Elise O’Byrne White completes the starting line-up.

Leinster Women’s head coach Robert Forbes is hoping that supporters come out and get behind the Blues after the Ireland v Wales match at the Aviva Stadium. “Hopefully a lot of the Ireland-Wales crowd will come down the road and cheer us on for the 5pm kick-off,” he told Leinster TV.

“It’s a great opportunity for all the Women’s rugby supporters around the province to get up to Donnybrook, get into the stadium, make a huge amount of noise and really get behind the Leinster team.”

Meanwhile, the Connacht Women make the trip to Dublin on the back of a narrow defeat to Munster last weekend. The westerners are looking to get back on the winning trail and will be boosted by the return of fit-again skipper Ruth O’Reilly to the starting line-up. Ireland Sevens international Niamh Ni Dhroma and Six Nations winner Sene Naoupu have been paired together in the centre.

* Fans can pay at the gate at Donnybrook with admission just €;5.

LEINSTER WOMEN: Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock); Janice Daly Morrissey (Old Belvedere), Elise O’Byrne White (Old Belvedere), Aine Donnelly (Port Dara), Amy Cotter (Suttonians); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere), Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union); Fiona O’Brien (Old Belvedere), Sharon Lynch (Old Belvedere), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere) (capt), Ciara Cooney (Railway Union), Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary’s), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere), Jennie Finlay (Railway Union), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s).

Replacements: Ann-Marie Rooney (St. Mary’s), Karla Dunne (Blackrock), Ruth McElroy (Old Belvedere), Mairead Holohan (Blackrock), Susan Fogarty (Railway Union), Meg Parkinson (Carlow), Vikki McGinn (Blackrock), Sara Phelan (Clondalkin).

CONNACHT WOMEN: Mairead Coyne (Galwegians); Aine Staunton (UL Bohemians), Niamh Ni Dhroma (Buccaneers), Sene Naoupu (Galwegians), Jill Draper (Tullamore); Clare Raftery (Galwegians), Mary Healy (Galwegians); Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians) (capt), Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians), Laura Feely (Galwegians), Siobhan Barrett (St. Mary’s), Catriona Cassidy (Carlow), Edel McMahon (NUIG/Galwegians), Grainne Egan (St. Mary’s), Carol Staunton (Galwegians).

Replacements: Ciara Farrell (Tullamore), Amanda Kelly (Tuam), Eimear Murphy (Carlow/Ballina), Rita Breen (NUIG), Christine Arthurs (Tralee), Nicole Fowley (Galwegians), Emma Clery (Galwegians), Emer O’Mahony (Railway Union).