Ireland Women’s head coach Adam Griggs has included seven uncapped players in a 36-strong squad for the forthcoming Women’s Six Nations Championship, which kicks off with the visit of England to Energia Park on Friday, February 1.
The uncapped players are Enya Breen from Women’s All-Ireland League leader UL Bohemians, the Old Belvedere trio of Kathryn Dane, Linda Djougang and Ailbhe Dowling, Blackrock’s talented number 8 Hannah O’Connor and Ireland Sevens internationals Eve Higgins and Claire Keohane.
‘Belvo prop Djougang, who is part of Ireland’s Emerging Talent squad this season along with Dane, has impressed during the first half of the league season, topping the scoring charts with six tries. O’Connor has also caught the eye as a ball carrier and goal kicker.
Higgins and Keohane were both in Dubai recently with the Ireland Sevens senior and Development squads respectively, with 19-year-old out-half Higgins voted the Ireland players’ Player of the Tournament at the second leg of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens World Series.
A number of players from the Ireland Women’s Sevens squad – Higgins, Ashleigh Baxter, Louise Galvin and Hannah Tyrrell – are part of the Six Nations panel and will be available for selection subject to their World Series commitments.
The six players who made their Ireland 15s debuts in the recent November internationals are preparing for their first Six Nations tournament – they are Lauren Delany, a try scorer from full-back against England, Emma Hooban, Ellen Murphy, 17-year-old Ballinasloe starlet Beibhinn Parsons, Laura Sheehan, who touched down on her debut against the USA, and Juliet Short.
Ireland’s back-three options are further boosted by the inclusion of fit-again wingers Alison Miller and Megan Williams, with Miller, who suffered a serious ankle injury against Italy during last season’s Six Nations, returning to action with Old Belvedere last Saturday.
Adam Griggs’ charges will play their home games in the 2019 Championship at Energia Park in Donnybrook. They start the tournament against old rivals England, kicking off at 5pm on Friday, February 1.
IRELAND WOMEN’S Squad (2019 Women’s Six Nations Championship):
Enya Breen (UL Bohemians/Munster) *
Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster)
Michelle Claffey (Blackrock/Leinster)
Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster) *
Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock/Leinster)
Lauren Delany (Firwood Waterloo Ladies/IQ Rugby)
Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *
Ailbhe Dowling (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *
Laura Feely (Galwegians/Connacht)
Nicole Fowley (Galwegians/Connacht)
Nichola Fryday (Galwegians/Connacht)
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster) *
Emma Hooban (St. Mary’s/Leinster)
Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/Leinster)
Claire Keohane (Railway Union/Munster) *
Leah Lyons (Harlequins)
Aoife McDermott (Railway Union/Leinster)
Claire McLaughlin (Old Belvedere/Ulster)
Edel McMahon (Galwegians/Connacht)
Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht)
Sarah Mimnagh (Richmond/IQ Rugby)
Claire Molloy (Wasps)
Ellen Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock/Leinster) *
Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe/Connacht)
Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster)
Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Laura Sheehan (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Juliet Short (Railway Union/Leinster)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Megan Williams (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
* Denotes uncapped player at this level
IRELAND WOMEN’S SIX NATIONS FIXTURES:
Friday, February 1:
IRELAND WOMEN v ENGLAND WOMEN, Energia Park, Donnybrook, 5pm (live RTÉ/Sky Sports)
Friday, February 8:
SCOTLAND WOMEN v IRELAND WOMEN, Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow, 7.35pm (live RTÉ)
Saturday, February 23:
ITALY WOMEN v IRELAND WOMEN, Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma, 7.30pm local time/6.30pm Irish time (live RTÉ/Eurosport Italia)
Saturday, March 9:
IRELAND WOMEN v FRANCE WOMEN, Energia Park, Donnybrook, 7pm (live RTÉ/France Televisions)
Sunday, March 17:
WALES WOMEN v IRELAND WOMEN, Cardiff Arms Park, 1.30pm (live RTÉ/S4C)