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Women’s All-Ireland League Gets Underway This Weekend

Women’s All-Ireland League Gets Underway This Weekend

The Women’s All-Ireland League gets underway this weekend in a new time slot that will be a feature of several rounds this season, as matches are played as part of a double header with men’s fixtures in the clubs.

WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – ROUND 1: Saturday, September 29

Kick-off 5pm unless stated –

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ST. MARY’S v RAILWAY UNION, Templeville Road

Click here for the full Women’s All-Ireland League fixtures

The decision to schedule more matches on a Saturday was taken in consultation with the clubs to encourage them to create a festival feel to match days and attract more members to both games. The first of these is a full-on double header with Blackrock welcoming Galwegians to Stradbrook at 5pm following the men’s game in Division 2A at 2.30pm.

Looking forward to their league opener in Dublin, Galwegians’ Ireland-capped scrum half Mary Healy said: “We’re expecting it to be a tough game. Blackrock will bring a big physicality to the match, but we have a good squad shaping up this year so we’re looking to be competitive for 80 minutes.”

Galwegians are coached by Scotsman Fraser Gow, who guided the Connacht Under-18 Women to their first ever Interprovincial title this month. There is a definite feel-good factor currently surrounding Women’s rugby in Galway and the province, with four Galwegians players making the Ireland Women’s squad for the November Tests.

St. Mary’s, who include Ireland call-up Emma Hooban, have bounced back into the top flight after a rewarding 23-match campaign last season. They face a stern test in their AIL opener at Templeville Road when they host Railway Union.

Led by inspirational captain Meg Kendal, Railway finished second in the table last season – with statistically the best attack and defence in the league phase – but lost narrowly to Old Belvedere at the semi-final stage. With plenty of international experience in the squad, they will certainly be looking to go one better this season.

Defending champions UL Bohemians have a bye in round 1 of the league, so the final fixture sees Cooke, whose newly-formed second team has boosted numbers at the club, at home to last season’s beaten finalists Old Belvedere.

The recent Women’s Senior and Under-18 Interprovincial Championships saw the emergence of some talented new players who will hope to make their mark in the league this season. Indeed, a number of those players have been included in the Ireland Women’s squad for the autumn campaign, while several others have been involved with the Emerging Talent squad in recent days.

Speaking at the launch of the Women’s All-Ireland League, Fiona Hayes, captain of title holders UL Bohs, said “We’ve had a couple of intense weeks with Munster where there are a lot of UL Bohs girls involved. We didn’t get the result we wanted in the Interpros so we’re looking forward to trying to get our hands on the AIL again this season.”

Keep up to date with all the action from the league this season by using #AILWomen.