The two victorious teams from the opening round, Ulster and Leinster, meet in a much-anticipated top of the table clash in the second round of the IRFU Under-18 Women’s Interprovincial Championship.
IRFU UNDER-18 WOMEN’S INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – ROUND 2: Saturday, August 24
CONNACHT U-18 WOMEN (4th) v MUNSTER U-18 WOMEN (3rd), the Sportsground, 1pm
ULSTER U-18 WOMEN (2nd) v LEINSTER U-18 WOMEN (1st), Palace Grounds, City Of Armagh RFC, 3pm
Buccaneers back rower Ivana Kiripati returns from Ireland U-18 Sevens duty to pack down at the base of the Connacht scrum. She is one of seven personnel changes made by head coach Fraser Gow for the visit of third-placed Munster.
For the age-grade curtain raiser at the Sportsground tomorrow, there are four alterations up front to the side that lost 39-10 to Leinster. Hannah Coen and Aimee Kelly get their first starts in the front row, while Ballina flanker Katelyn Bourke boosts the Mayo contingent in the line-up.
Megan Walsh and Fodhla Ni Bhraonain switch positions to form a new centre partnership, with the latter’s Corinthians team-mate Caoimhe Geraghty drafted in at out-half. Ballina’s Nina McVann and Hannah Gullane of Ballinasloe are selected on the wings.
Having been held scoreless in the second half of their 17-12 home defeat to Ulster, Munster U-18 head coach Fiona Hayes has reacted by rearranging their back-line and bringing in three players from last week’s replacements.
Fethard & District winger Jennifer Fogarty, scrum half Clodagh McMahon from Kilrush and Skibbereen prop Niamh Thornton all get the nod to start. Ennis’ Aoibhinn O’Loughlin, the scorer of a superb intercept try in Cork last Saturday, swaps positions to full-back.
O’Loughlin’s right wing berth is taken by Saskia Morrissey with Aoife Corey moving to midfield where she forms an all-Ennis centre pairing with Alana McInerney. There is free admission at the Sportsground where you can see some of the current and future stars of the Women’s Interprovincial scene.
CONNACHT U-18 WOMEN: Caoimhe English McNamara (Westport); Hannah Gullane (Ballinasloe), Fodhla Ni Bhraonain (Corinthians), Megan Walsh (Connemara), Nina McVann (Ballina); Caoimhe Geraghty (Corinthians), Olivia Haverty (Portumna); Hannah Coen (Creggs), Emily Gavin (Ballinasloe), Aimee Kelly (Buccaneers), Eva McCormack (Westport), Aisling Hahessy (Claremorris Colts), Katelyn Bourke (Ballina), Hannah Johnston (Sligo), Ivana Kiripati (Buccaneers).
Replacements: Molly Ager (Claremorris Colts), Zara Grehan (Ballinasloe), Mary McLoughlin (Westport), Leah Hogarty (Ballinasloe), Faith Oviawe (Buccaneers), Aisling Browne (Westport), Avril Deely (Ballinasloe), Alana Roche (Oughterard).
MUNSTER U-18 WOMEN: Aoibhinn O’Loughlin (Ennis); Saskia Morrissey (Kilrush), Aoife Corey (Ennis), Alana McInerney (Ennis), Jennifer Fogarty (Fethard & District); Emma Connolly (Skibbereen), Clodagh McMahon (Kilrush); Eileen Gleeson (Nenagh), Sarah Murphy (Kanturk) (capt), Niamh Thornton (Skibbereen), Eilish Cahill (Ennis), Aine Enright (Listowel), Aaliyah Te Pou (Shannon), Faye Dowling (Fethard & District), Eimear Minihan (Skibbereen).
Replacements: Rebecca Collins (St. Mary’s), Chloe Ann O’Driscoll (Skibbereen), Erika Kiely (Carrick-on-Suir), Marea Walsh (Shannon), Alex O’Sullivan (Skibbereen), Abbie Salter Townsend (Skibbereen), Emer Tuohy (Nenagh), Roisin Houlihane (Ballina/Killaloe).
Ballyshannon’s Rachel McGee has been rewarded for her two-try salvo against Munster with a starting place against Leinster. The selected Ulster team contains one other change as Virginia’s Emma Ryan will line out on the left wing at City of Armagh RFC.
Lucy Thompson switches to outside centre where she replaces her Enniskillen colleague Zara Flack. The absence of India Daley sees Sophie Barrett, another of the Enniskillen contingent, cover at number 8 with McGee slotting in at blindside flanker.
Just like his senior counterpart Ben Armstrong, Leinster U-18 head coach Niall Neville has made wholesale changes – eight in all – as he gives opportunities to the wider squad in the early stages of the expanded Interprovincial competition.
“We are travelling to an Ulster side who had a good win away against Munster last Saturday,” said Neville. “Ulster will prove to be a different test this week as they will have a quick back-line and look to play a wide expansive game.
“We have identified the areas for improvement from the Connacht game (last week) and will continue to work on these while trying to improve week on week in the Interprovincial series.”
Emma Kelly joins Ciara Faulkner, the scorer of two tries against Connacht, in an all-Tullamore midfield duo, while Wicklow scrum half Beth Roberts and Ashbourne winger Orla Hayes have also been handed starts. Edenderry’s Laura Carty will be the last line of defence.
Leinster’s five forward replacements from the opening round come into the starting pack, with Naas lock Ivanna Dempsey packing down behind an all-new front row of North Meath’s Emily Jo White, Naas hooker Ellen Murray and Eimear Douglas of Wicklow.
The back row also sees some change, with Tullamore’s Hannah Foxe now occupying the blindside berth and Erin King from Naas shifting to openside. There are three more new caps waiting in the wings as Dundalk’s Nina Hjalmers, Vicky Elms Kinlan from Wicklow and Cill Dara’s Oreoluwa Oluteju have been added to the bench.
ULSTER U-18 WOMEN: Farrah McCloskey (Enniskillen); Sophie Kinghan (Dundalk), Lucy Thompson (Enniskillen), Moya Hill (Enniskillen), Emma Ryan (Virginia); Toni Macartney (Larne), Sarah Shrestha (Dungannon); Ella Garland (Cooke), Aoife Cahill (Malone), Ava Fannin (Virginia) (capt), Kim Johnston (Dungannon), Taryn Schutzler (Malone), Rachel McGee (Ballyshannon), Erin Carson (Malone), Sophie Barrett (Enniskillen).
Replacements: Cara O’Neill (Malone), Hannah Cooney (Malone), Delyth Cook (Ballyclare), Samantha Cassidy Campbell (Ballyclare), Jennifer Collins (Donaghadee), Lauren Kilfedder (Enniskillen), Jana McQuillan (Larne), Jenna Corkey (City of Armagh).
LEINSTER U-18 WOMEN: Laura Carty (Edenderry); Orla Hayes (Ashbourne), Ciara Faulkner (Tullamore), Emma Kelly (Tullamore), Rachel Conroy (Tullamore); Ava Jenkins (Mullingar), Beth Roberts (Wicklow); Emily Jo White (North Meath), Ellen Murray (Naas), Eimear Douglas (Wicklow), Ivanna Dempsey (Naas), Dara Yore (North Meath), Hannah Foxe (Tullamore), Erin King (Naas), Ellie Meade (Dundalk) (capt).
Replacements: Emily Slater (Arklow), Rachel Murtagh (Naas), Oreoluwa Oluteju (Cill Dara), Nina Hjalmers (Dundalk), Aoife Wafer (Enniscorthy), Katie Whelan (Enniscorthy), Kathryn Dempsey (New Ross), Vicky Elms Kinlan (Wicklow).
IRFU UNDER-18 WOMEN’S INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – TOP SCORERS AFTER ROUND 1:
10 – Ciara Faulkner (Leinster), Rachel McGee (Ulster), Aoife Wafer (Leinster)
5 – Rachel Conroy (Leinster), Kathryn Dempsey (Leinster), Caoimhe English McNamara (Connacht), Farrah McCloskey (Ulster), Aoibhinn O’Loughlin (Munster), Faith Oviawe (Connacht), Katie Whelan (Leinster)
4 – Ava Jenkins (Leinster)
2 – Ciara Faulkner (Leinster), Rachel McGee (Ulster), Aoife Wafer (Leinster)
1 – Rachel Conroy (Leinster), Kathryn Dempsey (Leinster), Caoimhe English McNamara (Connacht), Farrah McCloskey (Ulster), Aoibhinn O’Loughlin (Munster), Faith Oviawe (Connacht), Katie Whelan (Leinster)
2019 IRFU SENIOR & UNDER-18 WOMEN’S INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIPS:
Round 1 – Saturday, August 17
Leinster U-18 Women 39 Connacht U-18 Women 10, Parsonstown, MU Barnhall RFC
Leinster Women 34 Connacht Women 6, Energia Park
Munster U-18 Women 12 Ulster U-18 Women 17, Irish Independent Park
Munster Women 38 Ulster Women 12, Irish Independent Park
Round 2 – Saturday, August 24
Connacht U-18 Women v Munster U-18 Women, the Sportsground, 1pm
Connacht Women v Munster Women, the Sportsground, 3pm
Ulster U-18 Women v Leinster U-18 Women, Palace Grounds, City Of Armagh RFC, 3pm
Ulster Women v Leinster Women, Palace Grounds, City Of Armagh RFC, 7pm
Round 3 – Saturday, August 31
Ulster U-18 Women v Connacht U-18 Women, Queen’s Sport, Upper Malone, 1pm
Ulster Women v Connacht Women, Queen’s Sport, Upper Malone, 3pm
Munster U-18 Women v Leinster U-18 Women, Irish Independent Park, 1pm
Munster Women v Leinster Women, Irish Independent Park, 3pm
Semi-Finals – Saturday, September 14
Finals – Saturday, September 21