Can anybody stop the onward march of UL Bohemians and Railway Union? That is the question being asked this week as we prepare for the seventh round of a hugely exciting Women’s All-Ireland League, writes Michael Gallagher.
WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – ROUND 7: Sunday, November 12
Kick-off 1pm unless stated –
BLACKROCK (5th) v UL BOHEMIANS (1st), Stradbrook
UL Bohemians go to Stradbrook on Sunday to take on Blackrock, a youthful team who have been building confidence and systems every week. Last weekend’s 40-20 win over Tullamore is sure to give the Dublin side a big dollop of enthusiasm as they prepare to host the champions, and if they can compete in the physicality stakes, they will fancy their chances.
Bohs will be ferrying a few tired bodies to the east coast after the Munster v Barbarians game, but they are confident that the depth in their squad will see them through as they look to retain top spot. The Limerick side are hot favourites, but this one might be closer than people think.
GALWEGIANS (7th) v TULLAMORE (8th), Crowley Park
Tullamore travel west on Sunday looking to record their first victory of the campaign. The Offaly women have been adapting to life at senior level and are becoming more and more competitive with every outing.
Their head coach Colin Hughes is looking forward to the trip to Crowley Park, saying: “We’ve gained confidence from a much-improved performance against Blackrock last time out. We feel that we attacked very well, made crucial line-breaks and scored some very good team tries. We’ll be looking for more of the same on Sunday in a match which can be definitely classed as an eight-pointer.”
Galwegians were outscored by Cooke – 40-24 – in Belfast last weekend and will be hoping to get back on track by Galway Bay, but the Blue Belles were taking nothing for granted this week in training and are well aware of the importance attached to Sunday’s encounter.
OLD BELVEDERE (4th) v HIGHFIELD (6th), Anglesea Road, 1.30pm
These sides will get to know each other very well over the next two weekends with back-to-back clashes and there will be nothing spared on Sunday afternoon when they meet at Anglesea Road.
Old Belvedere have been scoring heavily in many of their outings but came back down to earth with a bang last weekend when UL Bohemians clipped their wings in a 26-0 defeat.
Highfield had a similar experience against Railway in round 6, going down 34-5 at home, and know that they have to make a statement soon if they are going to make an impression at the business end of the table. The Cork side were not happy with the scoreline last time out, but their pack were impressive and if they repeat that on Sunday they will have a chance.
‘Belvo have been developing an impressive attacking platform all season, which has resulted in them running in big scores but this flair will certainly eb put to the test when Highfield come to town.
RAILWAY UNION (2nd) v COOKE (3rd), Park Avenue, 2.30pm
Park Avenue will be the setting for the clash of Railway Union and Cooke on Sunday afternoon. This has all the makings of a classic as the Belfast side will be determined to lay down a marker in the capital. They have been ultra-competitive in every match, but this is a big test for them.
Railway will be looking to continue their drive for the title and are eager to give one of their own a fitting send-off. It will be the last appearance in the green and gold for Claire Ryan before she emigrates to Australia. The Tipperary native took up rugby with Railway and has been ever-present in the squad over five years, as well as representing Leinster in the Interprovincial Championship.
The hosts will be boosted by the return of Ciara Cooney, Larissa Muldoon and Niamh Byrne to the starting line-up after last week’s win over Highfield in Cork. Captain Meg Kendal forms a very dynamic back row with Emma Taylor and Grainne Egan. Taylor’s form has seen her called up to the Canada squad for their three-match November series against England.
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