Twenty five years ago a group of women pulled on a green jersey to play the first ever Ireland Women’s international match, away to Scotland in Edinburgh. On Sunday they and the women who followed in their footsteps were honoured at a special IRFU caps ceremony in the Aviva Stadium.
It was a day of celebration, a day of reunions and a day to honour those special women who paved the way for the sport in Ireland.
112 players who represented Ireland from 1993 to 2005, prior to the Irish Women’s Rugby Football Union becoming integrated into the IRFU, were celebrated at the event on Sunday.
101 were in attendance, from as far afield as New Zealand and Australia, while two players have sadly passed away.
Speaking at the event, Jill Henderson, captain of the first Ireland Women’s team, said: “I never thought this day would come. It is more than just a reunion – this cap means everything. Rugby has always been a big part of my life.”
The Ireland and Scotland teams who had played out their Women’s Six Nations match at Donnybrook earlier in the day were also on hand to share in the celebration of these ground-breaking women.
The former Ireland players were presented with their caps in groups based on the season they were first capped. The caps were presented by IRFU President Philip Orr and former Presidents of the IWRFU.
Emma Stanley (2005), Denise Tracey (2004), Manuela McCarthy (2004), Lynda Kelly (2003), Serena Stirling (2003), Jen Leacy (2003), Lesley Coulter (2003), Eryka Wessell (2002)
Karen Eagleson, Maeve Quirke, Rachel Tucker, Edel Coen, Jolene Morton, Jennifer O’Leary, Karen McCarthy, Yvonne Comer, Bridget Montgomery (all 2001), Celine Quinn (2000), Elimar Flynn (2000), Magali Dolo (2000)
Orla Lacey, Aileen Galvin, Anne O’Toole, Rochelle Howell, Toni Brennan, Carmel Murphy, Mary O’Loughlin, Ruth Scott, Judith Wilson, Leonie O’Callaghan, Morag McGowan, Emma Jeffreys, Rose Gallagher (RIP)
Caroline Reid, Grainne Cross, Anne-Marie McAllister, Joy Moore, Maura Coulter, Aisling Dillon, Ciara McConnell, Olivia Brown, Jean O’Gorman, Fiona Devaney, Sue Ramsbottom, Fiona Neary, Niamh Collins
Cath Evans, Sinead Cosgrave, Marie Hayes, Rachel Reid, Siobhan O’Donovan, Laura Nicholl, Jacqui Horan, Jackie O’Brien, Joss Hanrahan, Stephanie Dowling, Helen Siwek, Mary Grehan, Rachel Currie, Joy Sparks, Deborah Campbell
Marie Myles, Fiona McNicolas, Joan Whiteside, Nessa Campbell, Moyna Richey, Melanie Nash, Therese Cosgrove, Clara Heaton (all 1996), Carole Ann Byrne (1995), Ciara Downes (1995), Ruth McKeown (1995), Maire Kerrin (1995), Joanne Dwyer (1995), Nicki Milne (1995), Louise Monahan (RIP)
Deborah Byrne, Kath Buckley, Lorraine Noade, Rachel Meats, Elaine Collins, Vicki McDonnell, Kate Abernethy, Angie Brew, Paula Keane, Siobhan Doherty, Frances Doherty, Diane Nixon, Jill Scott, Fiona Steed, Corinna Dwan, Jacinta Gibbons, Sally Roycroft, Clare Wall, Raeltine Shrieves
Trina Watt, Zoe Fordham, Anne Parsons, Therese Kennedy, Kathryn Hennessy, Jill Henderson, Tanya Waters, Cath Mulalley, Clare Hoppe, Joanne Moore, Cath Burgess, Kim Donohoe, Ciara McNaughton, Aoife Rodgers, Eileen McGrann, Deirdre Fitzgerald, Niki Ordman