Railway Union and UL Bohemians collide in a heavyweight clash, St. Mary’s continue their hunt for their first points of the season, and close rivals Galwegians and Cooke battle it out in round 6 of the Women’s All-Ireland League. Katie Byrne previews Saturday’s three games.
WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – ROUND 6: Saturday, November 17
Kick-off 2pm unless stated –
Clubs are invited to post the best tries from their Women’s All-Ireland League fixtures on the club’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram pages using the hashtag #AILWomensTry and tag @irishrugby. The scorer of #AILWomensTry of the Month will receive a voucher for €;250 and each of the monthly winners will be entered into the #AILWomensTry of the Season competition.
GALWEGIANS (4th) v COOKE (5th), Crowley Park
With both clubs enjoying upset wins in the last round, this encounter between fourth-placed Galwegians and Cooke, in fifth, promises to be an exciting one. Injuries have impacted Cooke’s selection with head coach Wayne Kelly reshuffling his pack.
Former Ireland international Eliza Downey will start at full-back, with Kelly bringing ‘a slightly different approach’ to this weekend’s game. Training is going well for the Belfast outfit, who won 40-24 at home to ‘Wegians last season. The Blue Belles won the corresponding fixture 22-12 two weeks later.
Galwegians boss Fraser Gow has introduced Nicole Fowley, a member of Ireland’s November squad, at out-half, with Ina Butler moving out to her natural centre role. “I have been impressed with Ina, who has really stepped up to fill the play-maker role since the start of the season, but I’m looking forward to seeing her at 12,” said Gow.
Following a number of slow starts, the Scotsman is anxious that his ‘Wegians side perform for the full 80 minutes. “We want to get off to a better start to the game than we did against Old Belvedere. We can’t allow teams to get a foothold and then start playing after 15-20 minutes,” he added.
RAILWAY UNION (1st) v UL BOHEMIANS (3rd), Park Avenue
Ahead of Sunday’s November Test between Ireland and the USA at Energia Park, both Railway Union and UL Bohemians have had to juggle their squads in the absence of five players each. A lively atmosphere is expected at Park Avenue where over 170 people are due to attend the pre-match lunch.
Ireland Sevens-capped hooker Chloe Blackmore has retained her place with the Railway front row set to be completed by Shirley Corcoran and Katie O’Dwyer. There is also a spot for two-time Six Nations winner Larissa Muldoon in the back-line.
With just three points between the two teams, Bohs will be eager to return to winning ways against the table toppers. Experienced prop Fiona Hayes is set to lead a strong UL pack, but she will be without fellow front rower Fiona Reidy and number 8 Ciara Griffin, who both start for Ireland against the US.
A much improved performance will be expected from the defending champions, who suffered a shock 7-22 defeat to Cooke in Belfast two weeks ago. With just one loss during their 2017/18 campaign, Ben Martin’s charges cannot afford to drop any more points at this stage of the season. Stalwart out-half Niamh Briggs will need her back-line firing on all cylinders in the capital.
ST MARY’S (7th) v BLACKROCK (6th), Templeville Road, 2.30pm
St. Mary’s are hoping that home advantage can get them over the line in this Dublin derby that doubles up as a basement battle. The Templeogue side will be keen to register their first score of the season and have been working hard on their line speed and ‘building phases through attack’.
Mary’s captain Aoife Moore, who always leads by example, and Ciara Scanlan are two players that they are relying on to set the tone and pace, while there is a welcome return for Meagan Parkinson in the back-line after a spell out through injury.
Blackrock have used the break in fixtures productively also, using the time to ‘sharpen key skills’ that they hope to implement on Saturday. Hannah O’Connor was a key player for Philip Doyle’s side during their round 5 match against Railway. The influential number 8 touched down from the back of a five-metre scrum and kicked five points.
Blackrock captain Michelle Claffey is set for her first international start on Sunday, with Doyle drafting in young centre Maeve Og O’Leary again this week following her ‘solid debut’ against Railway. While their influential hooker Emma Hooban is poised for her first Ireland cap, Mary’s will need other players to step up in order to keep ‘Rock at bay.
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