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Women’s All-Ireland League: Round 6 Previews

Women’s All-Ireland League: Round 6 Previews

The sixth round of the Women’s All-Ireland League throws up some intriguing battles with clubs at both ends of the table looking to make significant progress, writes Michael Gallagher.


Saturday, November 4 –

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UL BOHEMIANS (1st) v OLD BELVEDERE (4th), University of Limerick 4G pitch, 5pm

The weekend’s action kicks off in Limerick with reigning champions UL Bohemians hosting high-scoring Old Belvedere in what promises to be a hugely exciting encounter. The hosts are expected to continue their impressive unbeaten run, but team manager Kate Kirby is taking nothing for granted.

“‘Belvo are always tough and unpredictable, but we’re confident in our ability to take the win. Of course, we’re probably repeating ourselves every week, but we carry confidence into every game. If you’re not confident walking out onto that pitch, then you have already given up,” she said.

“We’re facing into an exciting period of the season now with the ‘Belvo game followed by back-to-back clashes against Blackrock with the first leg in Dublin. We will be looking to seal our spot at the top of the table going into the following game against Railway in Dublin. This is the much-anticipated game that had to be postponed due to the storm which disappointingly grounded us here in the south, but player welfare always comes first and we’re looking forward to the refixture.”

Tomorrow’s visitors come into the contest on the back of two huge wins where they scored a total of 106 points without conceding a single score. Now, Old Belvedere face the champions in a battle where points will be much harder to come by, as head coach Josh Brown is well aware.

“It’s always a challenge playing away from home in this league, and we’re expecting a great contest from Bohs,” he said. “They’re strong all over the pitch and from one to 15, do the basics well. They can all run, pass and ruck and that’s what drove their success last year. 

“With that, they’ve also got an excellent platform from set pieces, which will give their back-line great opportunities to attack. We’ll have to be clever in defence and have great discipline to counteract this. 

“Defensively, Bohs apply tremendous pressure, so we’ll have to show nothing but grit and throw the kitchen sink at them to break that line. We’re really looking forward to the weekend and certainly it’ll be an exciting game to watch.”

Sunday, November 5 –

COOKE (3rd) v GALWEGIANS (6th), Shaw’s Bridge, 1pm

After five rounds of the league, there is a distinct gap developing between the top and bottom halves of the table with seven points separating the teams in fourth and fifth.

Galwegians will attempt to bridge that divide when they travel to third-placed Cooke in Belfast. With an impressive and miserly defensive record – leaking only 32 points in their five matches to date – Cooke are favoured on paper but will be hoping to improve their scoring rate against the Galway side who have shown they can score from anywhere.

Galwegians, guilty of surrendering quality ball in good field position early in the competition, appear to be hitting their straps at the moment and will see Cooke’s clinical and smart defensive structure as a yardstick against which to measure their own recent improvements. 

This promises to be an intriguing encounter, especially if the rains stays away, with Eliza Downey, Jemma Jackson, Teah Maguire, Mairead Coyne, Ciara O’Connor, Barbarians call-up Edel McMahon and Nicole Fowley roaming about on the same paddock.

Cooke are looking forward to hosting the Blue Belles on Sunday afternoon, according to hard-working forward Sorcha MacLaimhin who said: “Following two tough wins away from home, we have a point to prove in making our home ground a fortress. Last season, we had some very close matches with Galwegians, so it promises to be an exciting clash.”

Cooke have been training well over the past few weeks and made the most of having last weekend off. Now they are rejuvenated and raring to go. Emma Jordan and Hannah Beattie both return to the squad from injuries and the Belfast women are delighted to welcome Frida Nilsson back to the group. The visiting Swedish Sevens player hopes to come off the bench and use her pace to make an impact. This will be an exciting prospect for the Shaw’s Bridge crowd.

HIGHFIELD (5th) v RAILWAY UNION (2nd), Woodleigh Park, 1pm

Highfield face a tough task when they welcome high-flying Railway to Woodleigh Park on Sunday. The Cork women have been working hard all season and are always extremely competitive, but turning opportunities into points has hindered their progress.

In the last three games they have recorded a win, a loss and a draw, but with a little more composure all three could have been victories. They are looking forward to taking on their free-scoring opponents on Cork soil and will name the squad for the clash later this evening.

Railway have already named a strong side for the game. Dynamic loosehead Katie O’Dwyer will be keen to do damage with ball in hand, whilst the destructive Siobhan McCarthy will be out to prove a point against her Munster colleagues.

Ireland Sevens starlet Chloe Blackmore continues at full-back and Aimee Clarke, who was part of the Ireland Under-18s’ title win at the UK School Games, continues her pathway into senior rugby and will be ready to spring from the bench.

Previewing the trip south to Highfield, Railway captain Meg Kendal commented: “We’re facing into an exciting month, with four games over consecutive weekends, starting with the usual tough battle we always have with Highfield.

“It’s been a few weeks since we played a game due to the postponement of the UL Bohemians game, however, we ran some very competitive 1s v 2s games in training over the last few weeks and are confident we’ll have no rustiness at Woodleigh Park on Sunday.”

TULLAMORE (8th) v BLACKROCK (7th), Spollanstown, 1pm

Tullamore will continue their maiden voyage into top flight rugby when they run out against Blackrock at Spollanstown on Sunday. The Offaly side are still seeking their first win but have shown enough in all their outings to sound alarm bells in the Blackrock camp.

Tullamore have been extremely competitive and with a little more composure in attack, they would certainly have more points on the board. They have been working very hard in training with head coach Colin Hughes and there is a great sense of anticipation ahead of this eighth-versus-seventh showdown.

“We’re really looking forward to this weekend and it’s a real eight-pointer. A win could really kick-start our season and the girls deserve it for the effort being put in,” said Hughes. “We felt we didn’t do ourselves justice against Cooke last time out and are determined to rectify that this weekend.

“We have Kim Cobbe returning at full back and we’re looking for Ciara Farrell, Katie Murray and Moya Griffin to continue their excellent form. It should be an entertaining match.”

Meanwhile, Blackrock come into round 6 on the back of two heavy defeats, but they have learned some valuable lessons and got down to work in order to gain momentum going forward again, according to head coach Richie McDonald.

“It’s been a good couple of weeks of preparation and we’re looking forward to getting back on track with the codification of the playing styles. It promises to be an exciting challenge for us,” he said.

Related Links –

Women’s All-Ireland League: Round 5 Review

Women’s All-Ireland League Results/Fixtures

Women’s All-Ireland League Table