Railway Union and Cooke are out for revenge in this evening’s return matches, while injury-hit St. Mary’s have conceded a walkover win to defending champions UL Bohemians. Katie Byrne previews round 8 of the Women’s All-Ireland League.
WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – ROUND 8: Saturday, December 8
Kick-off 5pm 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.
COOKE (4th) v BLACKROCK (6th), Shaw’s Bridge
Following some frustrating performances in the past few weeks, Blackrock bounced back in fine style last weekend to claim a 17-8 win over Cooke at Stradbrook. Head coach Philip Doyle is keen to keep the momentum going by ‘upping the intensity and execution’ in the return fixture.
With Ireland international and club captain Michelle Claffey back at centre, Blackrock will be confident that they can cause further disruptions to Cooke’s defence. The Belfast side struggled to contain Blackrock’s Niamh Griffin last time out, with the dynamic scrum half’s precision passing proving to be perfect attacking platform.
Hannah O’Connor is another ‘Rock player that they will need to keep uiet as she has been clinical with the boot, kicking an important seven points last weekend. Cooke will hope that they can keep their penalty count down in order to limit the kickable chances for the talented number 8.
Powerful prop Ilse van Staden’s lone try, along with a penalty from Vicky Irwin, was not enough to earn the northerners a losing bonus point in Dublin. With their well-drilled lineout maul working a treat in terms of gaining yards, it will be a key weapon for Wayne Kelly’s charges this evening.
Kelly has made two changes to the squad with winger Natasha Moore added to the starting XV, while young flanker Katie Hetherington earns a place on the bench. Despite the scoreline in round 7, the Cooke head coach feels that his side ‘were the better team’ and it was ‘execution and concentration’ that let them down.
OLD BELVEDERE (3rd) v RAILWAY UNION (1st), Anglesea Road
After a cracking top of the table clash between Railway Union and Old Belvedere last Saturday, the reverse fixture promises to be equally dramatic. John Cronin’s Railway team will be all out for revenge as they make the short trip to Anglesea Road.
Having led their title rivals for almost 80 minutes, they will be ruing their indiscipline which ultimately cost them the game as Old Belvedere’s Gemma Matthews decisively struck for the match-winning struck off a late five-metre penalty.
Cronin is set to make several changes to his squad, with the reintroduction of the 15s and Sevens international quintet of Lindsay Peat, Aoife McDermott, Juliet Short, Molly Scuffil-McCabe and Claire Keohane, who was selected as the Women’s All-Ireland League Try of the Month winner for November.
Belvedere are also boosted by the return of three Ireland players, with Claire McLaughlin, Ellen Murphy and Sene Naoupu back in club colours. Head coach Josh Brown is expecting a big impact from McLaughlin in the back row.
Murphy will be hoping to build on her impressive international debut at Twickenham, earning a good deal of praise from Ireland boss Adam Griggs in the aftermath. With Murphy slotting in at out-half, former Ireland tar Nora Stapleton makes the move to full-back for the hosts.
Belvedere have been working hard to rectify their weaknesses from last week’s encounter, with Clodagh Dunne focusing on lineouts, while Ailbhe Dowling has been taking charge of the defence. If Brown’s tactics prove fruitful, ‘Belvo could close the gap on leaders Railway to the minimum or go level on 25 points.
UL BOHEMIANS (2nd) (W/O) ST. MARY’S (7th), Annacotty
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