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Women’s All-Ireland League: Round 8 Previews

Women’s All-Ireland League: Round 8 Previews

The eighth round of the Women’s All-Ireland promises to be the most exciting yet with the back-to-back fixtures signalling the second half of the season, writes Michael Gallagher.


Kick-off 1pm unless stated –

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UL BOHEMIANS (1st) v BLACKROCK (5th), Annacotty

League leaders UL Bohemians did not have it all their own way when they went to Dublin to take on Blackrock last Sunday. They will be well aware of ‘Rock’s potential to cause an upset when they face off at Annacotty this weekend.
The Red Robins are taking nothing for granted, but make no secret of the fact that they will be looking for another bonus point victory before heading into the final game this side of Christmas where they will face their closest challengers, Railway Union, next week.

Bohs are down a few bodies this weekend due to injury, but with the depth in the squad displayed and proven last weekend, they are confident of remaining top of the table after Sunday’s action. They have been training with great intensity and as always, are looking forward to another exciting game against an inspiring Blackrock side who exhibit a never-say-die attitude.
‘Rock were impressive last weekend despite losing 39-24 to their Limerick opponents. They grabbed a bonus point try in the last play. Out-half and captain Michelle Claffey said: “We want to maintain the levels of performance from last week and are really excited to get back onto the pitch to close out the league this side of Christmas with another positive display from the squad.”
HIGHFIELD (7th) v OLD BELVEDERE (4th), Woodleigh Park

It was easy to motivate the Highfield women this week at training. Last weekend’s 68-3 loss to Old Belvedere in Dublin was hard to swallow and there was no need for any added motivation as the Cork side prepared for this weekend’s clash with the same opposition.

The determination to give a much better account of themselves will drive Highfield on and they are determined to finish 2017 on the front foot. Old Belvedere went try-crazy last week and know that their finishers are in great form. Alison Miller crossed the whitewash five times and head coach Josh Brown will be looking for another stream of scores on Sunday.

“We’re taking nothing for granted. Every game is different. We were good last week but there were also a lot of things to improve on and that’s what we’ve been concentrating on over the past few days,” he said. “Highfield were much more competitive than the scoreline suggested and will be determined to throw everything at us on their home patch.”

The meeting of these two exciting sides promises great things. Last week’s battle in Galway was a thriller and handed Tullamore their first ever All-Ireland League win. The 31-27 victory was celebrated joyously by the Spollanstown outfit and has infused them with huge confidence as they look to host the Blue Belles on Sunday.

Tulliers head coach Colin Hughes was delighted to see his charges make history at Crowley Park, but is fully aware that another excellent performance is required on home soil. “We’re looking forward to backing up last week’s great win with another top display,” he explained.

“We’ll be looking for repeat performances from the likes of Rose Dunne, Clare Currams and Clare Cantwell who played extremely well last weekend. With this being our last game before Christmas, the girls will be eager to finish 2017 on a very positive note and get off the bottom of the table with another win.”

Of course, Galwegians come to the midlands driven by the desire to win the game and make up for last weekend’s reversal. This round 8 rematch promises to be a thriller.
COOKE (3rd) v RAILWAY UNION (2nd), Shaw’s Bridge, 2.30pm

Another intriguing encounter takes place in Belfast where Cooke host free-scoring Railway Union. Railway were clear winners last weekend in Dublin but the 36-5 scoreline fails to tell the tale of Cooke’s competitiveness and their power in the lineout and scrum.

The Ulster girls have trained well this week and are determined to build on the positive aspects of their performance at Park Avenue. Their pack power was laudable on that occasion but they will be looking to be more decisive in attack and make the most of any scoring chances which come their way.

Railway make four changes to their team for the rematch with the 18-year-old Daisy Earle making her first All-Ireland League start at number 8. Railway director of rugby John Cronin confirmed: “Daisy has been training very well and her performances with our seconds has meant she’s been pushing for a first team start.  We’ve always looked to promote youth at Railway and we have every confidence that Daisy will show her potential on Sunday.”

Earle may be young and inexperienced but she will be well-minded by a well-drilled pack, which contains Ireland internationals Lindsay Peat, Cliodhna Moloney and Ciara Cooney. Fellow 18-year-old Aimee Clarke is named in the back-line.

Cronin added: “Aimee was disappointed to only make the Leinster bench for the Under-18 interpros in September. We sat down after that, outlined her development points and she’s worked extremely hard on her game since. She never misses training, does her work-ons and is a very coach-able athlete. 

“We’re delighted her hard work has paid off and she’s now the only player from this years Under-18 team who has been called up the Leinster senior squad for the interpros (next month). She’s not the finished article yet by any stretch, but she’s definitely heading in the right direction.”

Related Links –

Women’s All-Ireland League: Round 7 Review

Women’s All-Ireland League Results/Fixtures

Women’s All-Ireland League Table