Railway Union and UL Bohemians have named their strongest possible teams for the Women’s All-Ireland League final at Energia Park on Saturday (kick-off 3pm). Read a full preview of the two scheduled games here.
Tickets to the Women’s All-Ireland League finals day in Donnybrook cost €5, payable upon entry. Under-18s enter for free. Rugby fans unable to make it to the stadium can view the big game live here on IrishRugby.ie and on the IRFU Facebook and YouTube channels.
UL Bohs retain eight players from the squad that beat Old Belvedere 15-0 in the 2018 final. Ireland Sevens international Claire Keohane was on the bench for the Red Robins that day at Portlaoise RFC, but will line out at out-half for Railway Union in their first ever top flight league final appearance.
Keohane was also named in the initial Ireland squad for the 2019 Six Nations Championship but did not make an appearance. Six of Saturday’s finalists have played international rugby in 2019, including Aoife McDermott who played every minute of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign. Prop Lindsay Peat returned from a neck injury to feature in the last three games but will play at number 8 for Railway tomorrow.
UL Bohs’ Eimear Considine was another ever-present during Ireland’s 2019 Six Nations campaign, while her club-mates Laura Sheehan, a Championship newcomer, and Enya Breen, who made her Ireland debut at just 19, were also on national duty. Fiona Reidy played in all five games, making three starts in the front row.
Both sides will rue the injury-enforced loss of key players. Ireland captain Ciara Griffin and Nicole Cronin miss out for the defending champions with Nikki Caughey, Ciara Cooney, Ailsa Hughes and Juliet Short all out of action for John Cronin’s Railway side.
There is still plenty of international experience across both squads. Railway’s Larissa Muldoon has played in two Women’s Rugby World Cups for Ireland and has the skill-set to be deployed at both full-back and scrum half. Emma Taylor, the Dublin club’s top try scorer in this season’s league with seven scores, is a former Canadian international.
Niamh Briggs is the top scorer in the Women’s All-Ireland League this season with 90 points and earned the same accolade for Ireland in the Six Nations wins of 2013 and 2015. UL captain Fiona Hayes, Chloe Pearse and Niamh Kavanagh are other Red Robins who have worn the green jersey with pride.
Both squads can mix strength and speed, with 10 starters boasting experience in the Ireland Women’s Sevens set-up. One such player is Railway winger Stephanie Carroll who claimed silver in the 400 metres at the same 2012 All-Ireland Schools Track & Field finals where Men’s Sevens international Greg O’Shea won silver in the 100m and 200m.
Railway’s rivalry with UL Bohemians is fairly new, but regular representation for both sets of players at interprovincial level has fuelled it. Second row Claire Bennett is the only UL Bohs player who has not lined out for the Munster Women’s team, having come through the Under-18 set-up just last year.
Laura O’Mahony is a UL Bohs and Munster player with a particular rivalry to watch out for – her sister Emer plays on the wing for Railway. Aoife McDermott’s sister Sonia is on the bench for Railway as is Daisy Earle who was named as a development player for the 2018 November internationals. Former Ireland winger Niamh Kavanagh is one to watch off UL’s bench.
WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE FINAL: Saturday, April 27
RAILWAY UNION (3rd) v UL BOHEMIANS (1st), Energia Park, Donnybrook, 3pm (live on Irish Rugby TV)
UL BOHEMIANS: Aine Staunton; Eimear Considine, Enya Breen, Rachel Allen, Laura Sheehan; Niamh Briggs, Laura O’Mahony; Fiona Hayes (capt), Kate Sheehan, Fiona Reidy, Claire Bennett, Chloe Pearse, Edel Murphy, Clodagh O’Halloran, Sarah Quin.
Replacements: Sarah O’Gorman, Geena Behan, Sarah Garrett, Aoife O’Sullivan, Helen McDermott, Niamh Kavanagh, Stephanie Nunan.
RAILWAY UNION: Larissa Muldoon; Stephanie Carroll, Niamh Byrne (capt), Meg Kendal, Emer O’Mahony; Claire Keohane, Molly Scuffil-McCabe; Shirley Corcoran, Chloe Blackmore, Katie O’Dwyer, Siobhan McCarthy, Aoife McDermott, Emma Murphy, Emma Taylor, Lindsay Peat.
Replacements: Aimee Clarke, Lisa Callan, Sonia McDermott, Daisy Earle, Clare Coombes, Laura Barachetti, Erin Coll.
Referee: Helen O’Reilly (IRFU)