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Women’s Interprovincial Championship: Semi-Finals Preview

Women’s Interprovincial Championship: Semi-Finals Preview

Munster co-captain Eimear Considine, Connacht captain Nichola Fryday, Leinster centre Michelle Claffey and Ulster captain Beth Cregan at Templeville Road ©INPHO/Gary Carr

Four super-charged semi-finals at senior and Under-18 level will be played across two pitches at St. Mary’s College RFC tomorrow as the IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship hits the play-off stage. Admission is free at Templeville Road.



MUNSTER WOMEN (2nd) v CONNACHT WOMEN (3rd), St. Mary’s College RFC main pitch, 1.30pm

LEINSTER WOMEN (1st) v ULSTER WOMEN (4th), St. Mary’s College RFC main pitch, 3.45pm


ULSTER U-18 WOMEN (2nd) v CONNACHT U-18 WOMEN (3rd), St. Mary’s College RFC pitch 2, 12pm

LEINSTER U-18 WOMEN (1st) v MUNSTER U-18 WOMEN (4th), St. Mary’s College RFC pitch 2, 2.45pm

Women’s Interprovincial Fixtures/Results/Table

Women’s Interprovincial Championship: Round 1 Review

Women’s Interprovincial Championship: Round 2 Review

Women’s Interprovincial Championship: Round 3 Review

Determined to bounce back from their 20-13 home defeat to Leinster, Munster head coach Laura Guest has made three changes in personnel for their semi-final clash with third-placed Connacht in Saturday’s senior curtain-raiser (kick-off 1.30pm).

Ireland centre Enya Breen returns to the Munster midfield, joining forces with St. Mary’s own Ciara Scanlan, while there are also starts for Laura O’Mahony on the left wing and Dorothy Wall, the promising Fethard & District and Ireland Sevens youngster, who will add her physicality to the tight five.

For her first senior start, Wall will pack down behind co-captain Chloe Pearse and Edel Murphy, who both continue to feature in the front row, and experienced tighthead Fiona Reidy. Former skipper Fiona Hayes has to be content with a place on the bench.

The Munster Women are without their top-scoring winger Laura Sheehan, who touched down twice during last month’s 27-6 win at Connacht, but two of their other try scorers that day – Christine Coffey and Niamh Kavanagh – are involved again as replacements.

Reserve second row Claire Bennett is poised to make her debut on the back of being involved in UL Bohemians’ All-Ireland League and Cup campaigns last season. She has come through Munster’s Talent Identification Programme, having played for Fethard & District and Munster at underage level.

Meanwhile, there will be a mouth-watering match-up on the wing between O’Mahony and teenage sensation Beibhinn Parsons who is the only change to the Connacht team that secured a confidence-boosting 20-19 victory away to Ulster two weeks ago.

Parsons, who only turns 18 in November, will make her senior debut for Connacht fresh from captaining the Ireland U-18 Women’s Sevens team to a fifth place finish at the recent European Championship in Jarocin, Poland.

Her inclusion sees Aoibheann Reilly, another member of the westerners’ 2018 U-18 Interprovincial title-winning side, revert to the full-back position to cover the absence of Mairead Coyne who is part of the Galway panel for Sunday’s All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship final against Dublin.

Delighted with the introduction of the play-offs into the Interpro schedule, Connacht scrum half and vice-captain Mary Healy said: “With three games, sometimes you’re only finding your groove. Getting to know each other, getting to know the girls more. So it’s great that we’ve another two games to play. There’s more to play for – it’s brilliant, it’s really exciting.

“We just want to fine-tune (our play). We’ve seen glimpses of what we’re capable of, but we haven’t gotten both attack and defence together yet. So we’re trying to find our groove.”

MUNSTER WOMEN: Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians) (co-capt); Stephanie Carroll (Railway Union), Enya Breen (UL Bohemians), Ciara Scanlan (St. Mary’s), Laura O’Mahony (UL Bohemians); Rachel Allen-Connolly (UL Bohemians), Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians); Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemians) (co-capt), Edel Murphy (UL Bohemians), Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians), Sarah Garrett (UL Bohemians), Dorothy Wall (Fethard & District), Grainne Fennelly (Thurles), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians), Sarah Quin (UL Bohemians).

Replacements: Kate Sheehan (UL Bohemians), Laura Delaney (UL Bohemians), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians), Claire Bennett (UL Bohemians), Clodagh O’Halloran (UL Bohemians), Christine Coffey (Thurles), Claire Keohane (Railway Union), Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians).

CONNACHT WOMEN: Aoibheann Reilly (Ballinasloe); Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe), Catherine Martin (Suttonians), Shannon Touhey (Galwegians), Alison Miller (Old Belvedere); Meabh Deely (Ballinasloe), Mary Healy (Galwegians); Laura Feely (Galwegians), Moya Griffin (Tullamore), Anne-Marie O’Hora (Galwegians), Tara Buggie (Galwegians), Denise Redmond (Galwegians), Ciara Farrell (Tullamore), Edel McMahon (Galwegians), Nichola Fryday (Galwegians) (capt).

Replacements: Elizabeth McNicholas (Shannon), Katie Murray (Tullamore), Aifric O’Brien (Suttonians), Lily Brady (Westport), Shannen Lane (Galwegians), Nicole Fowley (Galwegians), Orla Dixon (Galwegians), Aisling Brosnan (Co. Carlow).

Old Belvedere young gun Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony will make her full debut as one of four changes to the Leinster team for tomorrow’s second semi-final against fourth-placed Ulster (kick-off 3.45pm).

Leinster head coach Ben Armstrong has reshuffled his back-line again, restoring Larissa Muldoon to the out-half berth in an all-Railway Union half-back pairing, while captain Sene Naoupu reverts to the inside centre berth and Grace Miller, younger sister of Connacht’s Alison, switches to the full-back role.

Dabanovich-O’Mahony makes her first senior start at hooker, with Ireland international Linda Djougang resuming at tighthead prop and fellow Old Belvedere player Clodagh Dunne getting the nod to partner Judy Bobbett, one of the Championship’s young stars so far this season, in the second row.

Looking for a repeat of Leinster’s 24-5 win away to Ulster from last month, skipper Naoupu said: “We have been building since week one, and even before that in our training. Certainly there’s been some pleasing results for us, but certainly more to build on for our next match against Ulster.

“They have a strong pack and some strong and skilful backs as well, so we’ll be making sure we execute the basics again for ourselves and build on what we put out on the park against Munster (in a 20-13 victory in the last round).

“It’ll be a great day out for anyone who wants to come and support us or Women’s rugby in general. We’re just looking forward to taking the pitch on Saturday afternoon and hopefully putting out a really good performance.”

Meanwhile, captain Beth Cregan returns at number 8 for Ulster having missed their one-point defeat to Connacht. She helms an all-Cooke back row with Lauren Maginnes moving to the engine room where she partners her Malone club-mate Chloe McIlwaine.

Maeve Liston and Ireland Sevens international Lucinda Kinghan are both promoted from the bench, the former teaming up with her Cooke colleague Kelly McCormill in the centre. Kinghan will oppose Megan Williams, who has notched two tries so far, in a tasty wing tussle.

The Ulster back-line will be directed by Vicky Irwin and Jemma Jackson, with the latter’s move to scrum half meaning her Old Belvedere colleague Kathryn Dane will have an impact role from the bench. Malone’s Ella Durkan switches from the right wing to full-back.

With her side aiming to cause a big upset in Templeogue, Cregan said: “Leinster pulled away in the last-third (in the first game), but it was nothing that we were scared of. Whenever we went back to the video review and looked back at the match, we said to ourselves if we had any of the teams again we would have been comfortable enough to go back at it.

“There’s nothing they did that we couldn’t have a response to. Our mistakes were small scale errors and not big, collective team system errors. It’s a really good place for us to be in.”

LEINSTER WOMEN: Grace Miller (Old Belvedere); Elise O’Byrne-White (Old Belvedere), Michelle Claffey (Blackrock), Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere) (capt), Megan Williams (Old Belvedere); Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union), Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union); Lindsay Peat (Railway Union), Victoria Dabavonich-O’Mahony (Old Belvedere), Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere), Clodagh Dunne (Old Belvedere), Judy Bobbett (Blackrock), Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock), Juliet Short (Railway Union), Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock).

Replacements: Jennie Finlay (Old Belvedere), Christy Haney (Blackrock), Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union), Aoife McDermott (Railway Union), Daisy Earle (Railway Union), Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Railway Union), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere), Aimee Clarke (Railway Union).

ULSTER WOMEN: Ella Durkan (Malone); Lucinda Kinghan (Ireland Sevens), Maeve Liston (Cooke), Kelly McCormill (Cooke), Emma Jordan (Malone); Vicky Irwin (Cooke), Jemma Jackson (Old Belvedere); Megan Brodie (Exile), Stacey-Lea Kennedy (City of Derry), Ilse van Staden (Cooke), Chloe McIlwaine (Malone), Lauren Maginnes (Malone), Katie Hetherington (Cooke), Neve Jones (Malone), Beth Cregan (Cooke) (capt).

Replacements: Emma Kearney (Cooke), Aishling O’Connell (Cooke), Shannon Heapes (Cooke), Shannon Buller (Queen’s University), Keelin Brady (MU Barnhall), Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere), Diane Ramsay (Queen’s University), Holly Brannigan (Malone).



24 – Hannah O’Connor (Leinster)

17 – Meabh Deely (Connacht)

15 – Laura Sheehan (Munster)

10 – Niamh Kavanagh (Munster), Stacey-Lea Kennedy (Ulster), Chloe Pearse (Munster), Megan Williams (Leinster)

5 – Michelle Claffey (Leinster), Christine Coffey (Munster), Mairead Coyne (Connacht), Laura Feely (Connacht), Ailsa Hughes (Leinster), Claire Keohane (Munster), Maeve Liston (Ulster), Lauren Maginnes (Ulster), Grace Miller (Leinster), Edel Murphy (Munster), Niamh Ní Dhroma (Leinster), Meabh O’Brien (Leinster), Katie O’Dwyer (Leinster), Clodagh O’Halloran (Munster), Laura O’Mahony (Munster), Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Leinster), Sarah Quin (Munster), Aoibheann Reilly (Connacht), Kate Sheehan (Munster), Juliet Short (Leinster), Fiona Tuite (Ulster)

4 – Rachel Allen-Connolly (Munster), Niamh Briggs (Munster), Jemma Jackson (Ulster), Larissa Muldoon (Leinster)


3 – Laura Sheehan (Munster)

2 – Niamh Kavanagh (Munster), Stacey Lea-Kennedy (Ulster), Hannah O’Connor (Leinster), Chloe Pearse (Munster), Megan Williams (Leinster)

1 – Michelle Claffey (Leinster), Christine Coffey (Munster), Mairead Coyne (Connacht), Laura Feely (Connacht), Ailsa Hughes (Leinster), Neve Jones (Ulster), Maeve Liston (Ulster), Lauren Maginnes (Ulster), Grace Miller (Leinster) Edel Murphy (Munster), Niamh Ní Dhroma (Leinster), Meabh O’Brien (Leinster), Katie O’Dwyer (Leinster), Clodagh O’Halloran (Munster), Laura O’Mahony (Munster), Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Leinster), Sarah Quin (Munster), Aoibheann Reilly (Connacht), Kate Sheehan (Munster), Juliet Short (Leinster), Fiona Tuite (Ulster)