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Women’s Interpros: Round 2 Review

Women’s Interpros: Round 2 Review

Reigning champions Leinster defeated Connacht 17-8 under the Donnybrook floodlights on Saturday to move three points clear at the top of the IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship table, writes Michael Gallagher.

However, their arch rivals Munster remain very much in the title race having bagged a bonus point in seeing off Ulster’s challenge on a 32-5 scoreline in Limerick. It all leads to a thrilling final round next Saturday when the top two, Munster and Leinster, clash at Thomond Park (kick-off 2.30pm) and Ulster host third-placed Connacht at Belfast Harlequins RFC (kick-off 3pm).


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Scorers: Leinster: Tries: Aimee Clarke, Michelle Claffey, Ailsa Hughes; Con: Aine Donnelly
Connacht: Try: Mairead Coyne; Pen: Hilary Griffin

HT: Leinster Women 10 Connacht Women 8

It took a late try from Ireland scrum half Ailsa Hughes to secure a hard-earned 17-8 victory for Leinster at Donnybrook as fellow first round winners Connacht pushed them all the way.

In a game where both sides made a number of errors, Connacht began well with Nichola Fryday and Alison Miller to the fore but Leinster got over for the first try in the 17th minute. Sene Naoupu and Megan Williams provided the sharp handling and incisive running off a loose lineout and promising teenage winger Aimee Clarke was released to touch down for the fourth time in the tournament.

Jarleth Naughton’s Connacht charges hit back with a penalty from Hilary Griffin and then took the lead when in-form full-back Mairead Coyne crossed the whitewash out wide. However, the Blues were in no mood to be outgunned on their own sod and with influential lock Orla Fitzsimons prominent in the build-up and Williams swinging an inviting skip pass out to the left wing, Michelle Claffey’s well-taken try in the corner made it 10-8 at the interval.

Although the westerners continued to battle their way forward in the second half, Leinster made the game safe with five minutes remaining. Some powerful carrying took the ball up to five metres out and Hughes grasped her opportunity to sneak over off the side of a ruck and Aine Donnelly added the extras.

Afterwards, Connacht team manager Mark Moran was disappointed but proud. “This was a very disappointing loss and we’re not happy leaving Dublin empty-handed. It was a very competitive game with very little between both teams,” he said.

“Great credit must go to our girls who fought to the very end. Fair play to Leinster, they deserved their win and we now need to regroup and begin prep and focus for Ulster next Saturday in Belfast.”

LEINSTER WOMEN: Susan Vaughan (Railway Union); Megan Williams (Old Belvedere), Aine Donnelly (Old Belvedere), Michelle Claffey (Blackrock), Aimee Clarke (Railway Union); Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere), Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union); Lindsay Peat (Railway Union), Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union), Fiona O’Brien (Old Belvedere), Aoife McDermott (Railway Union), Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary’s), Ciara Cooney (Railway Union), Meg Kendal (Railway Union), Paula Fitzpatrick (St Mary’s) (capt).

Replacements: Jennie Finlay (Old Belvedere), Christy Haney (St Mary’s), Caoimhe Molloy (Gorey), Oonagh Hynes (Old Belvedere), Rachel Horan (CYM), Megan Parkinson (Wicklow), Meaghan Kenny (Railway Union), Nicole Carroll (Suttonians).

CONNACHT WOMEN: Mairead Coyne (Galwegians); Orla Dixon (NUI Galway), Shannon Touhey (Tullamore), Jane O’Neill (Old Belvedere), Alison Miller (Old Belvedere); Hilary Griffin (Tullamore), Mary Healy (Galwegians); Laura Feely (Galwegians), Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians), Anne-Marie O’Hora (Castlebar), Amelie Roux (Galwegians), Nicola Caldbeck (Tullow), Edel McMahon (Galwegians), Grainne Egan (Railway Union) (capt), Nichola Fryday (Tullamore).

Replacements: Lisa Anglim (Galwegians), Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union), Denise Redmond (Galwegians), Michelle Ring (UL Bohemians), Sabina Egan (Galwegians/Buccaneers), Shannen Lane (NUI Galway), Susan Shirley (Old Belvedere), Clodagh Dunne (Old Belvedere).

Scorers: Munster: Tries: Rachel Allen, Chloe Pearse, Niamh Kavanagh, Laura Sheehan, Edel Murphy, Christine Arthurs; Con: Ellen Murphy
Ulster: Try: Amy Graham

HT: Munster Women 5 Ulster Women 0

Laura Guest’s Munster team reignited their campaign with a thumping 32-5 bonus point success against Ulster at Dooradoyle, the home of Garryowen FC. Five of their six tries came in a super-charged second half.

The hosts, captained by experienced flanker Siobhan Fleming, cut loose after the break and showed how impressive and dynamic they can be. There were several handling errors from both side early on as the freezing conditions affected the fingers.

The opening try arrived in the 20th minute when Munster won a turnover on halfway and moved the ball wide for Syphonia Pua to break up the wing, Rachel Allen supported her UL Bohemians club-mate on the inside and took the final pass to score and make it 5-0 for half-time.

In the second period, Munster began to take charge and added to their tally with tries from Chloe Pearse (46 minutes), Niamh Kavanagh (50) and Laura Sheehan (59). One of the scores was converted by Ellen Murphy to leave Guest’s side in a commanding position.

To their credit, Ulster never threw in the towel and replied with a try of their own from replacement Amy Graham, but Munster added a late gloss with further tries from Edel Murphy and replacement Christine Arthurs, as hooker Gillian Bourke, out-half Allen and full-back Laura O’Mahony all impressed.

MUNSTER WOMEN: Laura O’Mahony (UL Bohemians); Laura Sheehan (UL Bohemians), Aine Staunton (UL Bohemians), Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians), Syphonia Pua (UL Bohemians); Rachel Allen (UL Bohemians), Ellen Murphy (Old Belvedere); Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians), Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians), Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians), Siobhan McCarthy (Railway Union), Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemians), Edel Murphy (UL Bohemians), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee) (capt), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians).

Replacements: Leah Lyons (Highfield), Maura Collins (Tralee), Zoe Grattage (Highfield), Roisin Ormond (Ballincollig), Anna Caplice (UL Bohemians), Christine Arthurs (Highfield), Valerie Power (Shannon), Linda McNamara (Highfield).

ULSTER WOMEN: Nikki Caughey (Railway Union); Emma Jordan (Cooke), Brittany Hogan (Cooke), Peita McAlister (Malone), Eliza Downey (Cooke); Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union) (capt), Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere); Ilse van Staden (Cooke), Neve Jones (Malone), Sorcha Mac Laimhin (Cooke), Hannah Beattie (Cooke), Rebecca Smyth (Cooke), Beth Cregan (Cooke), Gemma McCutcheon (Cooke), Lauren Maginnes (Cooke).

Replacements: Lesley Megarity (Cooke), Helen McGhee (Cooke), Aishling O’Connell (Co. Cavan), Amanda Maginn (Ballynahinch), Storm Cobain (Ballynahinch), Amy Graham (Cooke), Vicky Irwin (Cooke), Teah Maguire (Cooke).

Women’s Interpros: Round 1 Review

2017/18 IRFU Women’s Interpro Results/Fixtures/Table



20 – Aimee Clarke (Leinster)

10 – Michelle Claffey (Leinster), Edel Murphy (Munster)

7 – Mairead Coyne (Connacht)

6 – Aine Donnelly (Leinster)

5 – Edel McMahon (Connacht), Ciara O’Connor (Connacht), Amelie Roux (Connacht), Hilary Griffin (Connacht), Lindsay Peat (Leinster), Susan Vaughan (Leinster), Ailsa Hughes (Leinster), Laura O’Mahony (Munster), Fiona Hayes (Munster), Rachel Allen (Munster), Chloe Pearse (Munster), Niamh Kavanagh (Munster), Laura Sheehan (Munster), Christine Arthurs (Munster), Eliza Downey (Ulster), Teah Maguire (Ulster), Amy Graham (Ulster)


4 – Aimee Clarke (Leinster)

2 – Michelle Claffey (Leinster)

1 – Edel McMahon (Connacht), Ciara O’Connor (Connacht), Amelie Roux (Connacht), Mairead Coyne (Connacht), Lindsay Peat (Leinster), Susan Vaughan (Leinster), Ailsa Hughes (Leinster), Laura O’Mahony (Munster), Fiona Hayes (Munster), Rachel Allen (Munster), Chloe Pearse (Munster), Niamh Kavanagh (Munster), Laura Sheehan (Munster), Edel Murphy (Munster), Christine Arthurs (Munster), Eliza Downey (Ulster), Teah Maguire (Ulster), Amy Graham (Ulster)