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Women’s All-Ireland League: Round 14 Previews

Women’s All-Ireland League: Round 14 Previews

Women’s All-Ireland League: Round 14 Previews

Blackrock's Niamh Griffin is pictured on the attack during their All-Ireland Cup semi-final win over Suttonians last month ©Bernie O'Farrell

The final round of the regular season matches in the Women’s All-Ireland League includes games in Galway, Dublin and Belfast. The semi-final match-ups are set to be confirmed, while relegated St. Mary’s are looking to bow out with one of the best performances of the year.

WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – ROUND 14: Saturday, March 23

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.

GALWEGIANS (5th) v UL BOHEMIANS (1st), Crowley Park, 4pm

Defending champions UL Bohemians are on the cusp of finishing top of the table for the fourth year in a row. They wrap up the league phase with a trip to fifth-placed Galwegians who have doubled their tally of wins from last season but have fallen short of their top-four aims.

‘Wegians head coach Fraser Gow is hopeful that his side can ‘go out and play with no pressure and no fear’, although he acknowledged that the task against front-running Bohs ‘certainly won’t be easy’. Ireland’s Nicole Fowley and Laura Feely return from Six Nations duty, with injury ruling out Nichola Fryday.

UL’s Niamh Briggs, who has been playing at out-half and full-back, has been in fine form over the past few weeks, using her trusty right boot to guide the title holders into position to strike. Enya Breen, Eimear Considine and Fiona Reidy are all available for the visitors, eager to get straight back into club action after last Sunday’s disappointing finish to the Six Nations against Wales.

BLACKROCK (4th) v OLD BELVEDERE (2nd), Blackrock College School Grounds

Two of the league semi-finalists meet with Blackrock, coached by Ireland’s 2013 Grand Slam-winning head coach Philip Doyle, determined to avenge October’s 17-0 loss to Old Belvedere. ‘Belvo boss Josh Brown is relishing the chance to test his ‘own knowledge and tactics’ against the wily Doyle.

With in-form players such as teenage ‘powerhouse’ prop Victoria Dabonovich-O’Mahony and Alice O’Dowd at Brown’s disposal, along with the experienced Niamh Ni Dhroma in the back row, there should be no shortage of ball carriers to get ‘Belvo past the gain-line.

Tipperary native Oonagh Hynes is also set to return from injury, with Brown identifying the youngster as ‘a player to watch for the future’. Blackrock were 15-0 victors when the sides met in the All-Ireland Cup in January. With personnel changes expected, ‘Rock number 8 Hannah O’Connor conceded that it will ‘create a much different picture this time around’.

COOKE (6th) v ST. MARY’S (7th), Shaw’s Bridge

With an All-Ireland Plate final looming next weekend, Wayne Kelly’s Cooke side want to finish the 2018/19 campaign on a high. With just one point separating Cooke and Galwegians in the table, Kelly is confident that his squad can claim fifth spot and go on to lift the Plate title.

Flanker Katie Hetherington, Ulster prop Aishling O’Connell and former Ireland international Eliza Downey are welcomed back into the squad this week, with Downey expected to provide ‘real firepower on the wing’, according to Kelly. The past seven months have proved to be tough for Stephen Costelloe’s St. Mary’s, who lost 20-0 to Cooke in October.

Despite their impressive form up front, where they won a number of scrum penalties throughout the season, Mary’s failed to capatalise on this dominance. Captain Aoife Moore and Ireland hooker Emma Hooban, fresh from her first Six Nations campaign, will aim to inspire the Dubliners who know they are much better than their points-scoring average of 3.9 points per game suggests.

Women’s All-Ireland League Results/Fixtures

Women’s All-Ireland League Table