It is very tight at the top with only two points separating UL Bohemians, Railway Union and Old Belvedere, while St. Mary’s, Galwegians and Cooke are all out to redeem themselves in round 9 of the Women’s All-Ireland League. Katie Byrne previews the action.
WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – ROUND 9: Saturday, December 15
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 (5th) v RAILWAY UNION (2nd), Shaw’s Bridge, 3.30pm
With both teams suffering back-to-back defeats over the last two weeks, this is set to be an exciting and closely-fought encounter. John Cronin’s Railway Union are determined to bounce bounce from their two losses to title rivals Old Belvedere.
There are some changes to the Railway matchday squad with Keelin Brady and Kate McCarty added to the panel for the first time this season, while Aoife McDermott, who played for Ireland against the USA and England last month. is in line to return to club action.
Speaking about ‘the challenge ahead of them’, Railway’s Niamh Byrne admitted: “Shaw’s Bridge is one of the hardest places to go and we expect that Saturday will be no different. Cooke have always been tough up front, but this season they’ve added some very talented backs who caused us difficulty in our first game.”
Cooke head coach Wayne Kelly is planning to execute a similar game-plan to last week against Blackrock, however there will be ‘a few tweaks’. Teah Maguire has earned a start at full-back with Lauren Pedlow making her second start of the season on the right wing.
UL BOHEMIANS (1st) v OLD BELVEDERE (3rd), University of Limerick 4G pitch
After squad injuries forced St. Mary’s to concede a walkover win last weekend, UL Bohemians are raring ‘to get back playing’. They welcome third-placed Old Belvedere to the University of Limerick this evening in what is only their second home game of the season.
Boosted by the return of their international contingent, the Limerick side are aiming to ‘make their mark’ on the 4G surface. With Fiona Reidy slotting back into the Bohemians front row, and Old Belvedere’s Linda Djougang in unstoppable form, it should be a very tight battle up front.
Meanwhile, in the UL back-line, Niamh Briggs resumes her role as play-maker for the defending champions, while Rachel Allen-Connolly will line up outside her at 12. Allen-Connolly will have a tough job on her hands defensively, with her opposite number Sene Naoupu making numerous line-breaks last Saturday.
Josh Brown’s ‘Belvo team head into the game full of confidence after back-to-back successes against Railway Union and will be hoping to continue to reach the heights of those two performances. With only two points separating the sides, it is all to play for.
ST. MARY’S (7th) v GALWEGIANS (6th), Templeville Road, 2.30pm
Having finally opened their try-scoring account against UL Bohs in round 7, St. Mary’s fell victim to injuries and were forced to concede their return fixture last weekend. Despite the lack of game-time, the Templeogue outfit are keen to build on their attacking efforts as sixth-placed Galwegians come to town.
Coming off the back of a two-week break, Galwegians are hoping to ‘finish the year strongly’ and put themselves ‘in the mix for the top four heading into the New Year’. Their head coach Fraser Gow is eager for his players ‘to act as one strong unit when defending’, while also demonstrating a ‘ruthlessness’ in their attack.
In a bid to achieve this goal, Gow has reintroduced Ireland lock Nichola Fryday into the starting XV. Despite picking up a knock against England last month, the Tullamore native is back to full fitness for this crunch round 9 showdown.
Bottom side St.Mary’s have worked hard to tighten up their defence in the last few games, making Bohs really work hard in the opening quarter. They will need another solid display from Amy Moran, captain Aoife Moore, Heather Carey and Ciara Scanlan in order to keep Galwegians number 8 Denise Redmond at bay. If they can do that, they are in with a good chance.
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