The Women’s All-Ireland League resumes this weekend, with last season’s finalists, UL Bohemians and Old Belvedere, playing host to the current bottom two, Galwegians and Tullamore, respectively. Michael Gallagher previews the round 4 fixtures.
WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – ROUND 4: October 14-15
Saturday, October 14 –
OLD BELVEDERE (4th) v TULLAMORE (8th), Anglesea Road, 5pm
Old Belvedere entertain bottom side Tullamore in the opening game of the weekend on Saturday evening. A big defeat, a big win and a hard-fought loss means that ‘Belvo’s start to the league season has certainly been eventful.
Last time out, they produced a powerful display against Railway Union but were pipped 18-12 by their Dublin 4 rivals. This weekend will be all about the result. Nothing less than victory will be acceptable for Belvedere, who will be looking to get the best out of Jenny Murphy and Alison Miller in the back-line.
Tullamore are still looking for their first victory since earning promotion last season, but are getting closer and closer every outing. The Co. Offaly outfit have been working hard in training since their last outing against Highfield. They made a number of line breaks that day, with number 8 Emer Phelan in excellent form, but failed to fully capitalise and will be looking to put that right on Saturday.
The visitors will also welcome back a couple of crucial players, Rose Dunne and Kate Conway, to the fold and hope to see them on the pitch at some stage at Anglesea Road.
Sunday, October 15 –
BLACKROCK (6th) v RAILWAY UNION (2nd), Stradbrook, 1pm
Blackrock entertain Railway on Sunday afternoon and the home side are excited to be back at Stradbrook after three gruelling away fixtures. Richie McDonald’s squad have been working hard these past two weeks looking for improvements to their play.
‘Rock are determined to get back to winning ways against their south Dublin rivals and cannot wait for kick-off. Railway, meanwhile, might be losing 12 players to the Ireland Sevens camp this weekend, but this is offset by the return of Lindsay Peat and Susan Vaughan to the starting line-up.
Shirley Corcoran makes her first start of the campaign at loosehead prop, while Ciara Cooney’s performance off the bench against Old Belvedere sees her rewarded with a starting berth.
Railway captain Meg Kendal is looking forward to Sunday’s game, saying: “We’re feeling refreshed after a weekend off following our first three games. While we have some changes to the squad this week as the (Sevens) girls prepare for Dubai, we had planned for it and are confident that there’ll be no drop in standards. We have trained very well over the last two weeks and we can’t wait to get out there on Sunday.”
HIGHFIELD (5th) v COOKE (3rd), Woodleigh Park, 1pm
Highfield welcome Cooke to Woodleigh Park on Sunday and are raring to go after two weeks of excellent preparation. The Cork side are well rested after a weekend off and are looking forward to the challenge posed by the Belfast side.
After a slow start to the campaign, Highfield believe that they are now ready to perform to the standard required and make it two wins on the bounce. Ireland stars Leah Lyons and Heather O’Brien played key roles against Tullamore in round 3, while five new caps have been making their presence felt.
Cooke were defeated by UL Bohemians last time out but they are hoping to get back to winning ways on their travels. Former international Eliza Downey returns to the squad after injury, while Ilse van Staden and Alanagh Chipperfield come into the starting XV this week.
UL BOHEMIANS (1st) v GALWEGIANS (7th), Annacotty, 1pm
UL Bohemians will be looking to maintain their perfect record when they take on Galwegians in Annacotty. The defending champions always enjoy hosting the Connacht side and encounters between the two often prove to be tight and exciting.
Bohs, who have made a few personnel changes for round 4, approach every game with ruthless and intensive preparation and it is no different this week. They have scored 17 tries so far, including three from Rosie Newton and two each from Fiona Hayes, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Syphonia Pua, Anna Caplice and Rachel Allen.
Galwegians travel south buoyed by their first win of the season against Blackrock. The Blue Belles are well aware of the challenge awaiting them but Bundee Aki and Karol Collins’ charges hope to build on their cohesive four-try attacking performance and solid defensive effort from two weeks ago.
The fortnight’s rest since their last outing has given some of the newer members of the ‘Wegians squad time to hone their skills, which will surely be put to the test against the title holders. Ballybofey native Laura Feely, who cites Bohs skipper Hayes as one of her favourite players, is the Galway club’s new captain.
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