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Energia Community Series: Women’s Conference Previews

Energia Community Series: Women’s Conference Previews

Old Belvedere's Amber Redmond is pictured in try-scoring form during an Energia Women's All-Ireland League game against Galwegians ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Old Belvedere, Cavan and Queen’s University make their bows in the Energia Women’s Community Series this weekend, while Kerry, following their winning start last Sunday, get to measure their early progress against UL Bohemians, the 13-time All-Ireland League champions.

Support your club online and be in with a chance to win some great prizes. Check out www.irishrugby.ie/yourclubyourcountry for details of the IRFU Grand Draw.


Kick-off 1pm unless stated –


Blackrock College (1st) v Suttonians (4th), Stradbrook, Saturday, 5pm

Blackrock College climbed straight to the top of the table after putting 61 unanswered points on Wicklow. Their back row of captain Maeve Og O’Leary, Tess Meade and Ali Coleman stamped their authority on the game with two tries and big metres gained collectively.

Suttonians head coach Robert Forbes commented: “We said after the game (a 62-3 defeat to Railway) that while it went away from us in the second half, you can’t replicate match intensity and we’ll be much better for the experience. We expect to improve game-on-game as we did last season.”

This is the first home match of Ben Martin’s Blackrock coaching tenure and he has a particularly strong backs division at his disposal, with Emily Lane and Megan Burns on board again this week and fellow Ireland Sevens international Anna Doyle set to make her ‘Rock debut off the bench.

Looking forward to the Dublin derby, which will be streamed live on Blackrock’s YouTube channel, Martin said: “Suttonians have a number of potential internationals, in particular Lauren and Katie Farrell McCabe and Shannon Touhey, and they got the better of us in our last outing against them. But the physical battle from Wicklow has us well prepared.

The score last week didn’t do any justice to the nature of the game – Wicklow challenged us for long periods. I’ve been hugely impressed with a number of our youngsters. Aoibheann Reilly (at scrum half), on the back of some really quick ball from our pack, was able to challenge the line regularly and got rewarded with two tries.

“Maeve Og is embracing the additional challenge of the captaincy and it didn’t deter from her usual high energy performance. This week will see another opportunity for her to continue her development as a leader on the pitch.”

Old Belvedere (3rd) v Wicklow (5th), Ollie Campbell Park, Saturday, 5pm

For their Leinster Conference 1 debut, Old Belvedere’s new head coach Johnny Garth will unleash Ireland Sevens duo Brittany Hogan and Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird. Hogan teams up with Grace Miller in midfield, and Cork native Nic a Bhaird is selected at openside flanker.

For tomorrow’s live-streamed match, former Railway Union regular Katelyn Faust will make her Belvedere bow on the left wing with fellow newcomer Alannah O’Carroll, formerly of St. Mary’s College and Greystones, lining out on the right.

It was a tough opener for Wicklow against ‘Rock, but despite the lopsided look to the scoreline, Amy O’Neill and her team-mates can be proud of their performance. Meagan Parkinson, a real livewire at scrum half, led by example as did Romanian Sevens international Andrea Petru in the second row.

‘Belvo have a number of last season’s Leinster Under-18 squad eager to step up to senior rugby, including Ava Jenkins, Ellie Meade, who starts on the blindside, and promising Portdara Falcons prop Oreoluwa Olateju. Sisters Ella and Beth Roberts were two of the four Wicklow girls on that provincial panel.

Railway Union – Bye


Kerry (2nd) v UL Bohemians (1st), Town Park, Listowel

A massive test of Kerry’s early development as the 13-time All-Ireland League champions come to town. Listowel’s Town Park hosts this historic occasion which is a top of the table clash after the Kingdom side lowered the colours of Ballincollig in Abbeyfeale last Sunday.

Encouraged by that 24-5 victory, Kerry captain Anna Murphy said: “Once we started clicking and the girls started working together, for a new team it was brilliant (to get our first win). It’s just onwards and upwards and I know we’ve a lot more to give. Patience is key in building.”

Of course, UL have their own Kerry contingent in Finuge’s Louise Galvin, former Tralee player Laura O’Mahony and Glenbeigh native Edel Murphy. The trio scored a combined 27 points in Bohemians’ 57-0 bonus point triumph away to Shannon/LIT in the first round.

Acknowledging the exciting introduction of the amalgamated Kerry team, UL head coach Fiona Hayes said: “We’re really looking forward to playing Kerry who had a great win against Ballincollig last week. Their team has a lot of up-and-coming future rugby stars.

Although we were happy with our own win against a well-coached young Shannon/LIT side, we’re aiming to kick on and improve on our handling skills this week. Without our international players available, it’s a great time for our squad to get game-time and also a chance for new players to stand up and cement starting places.

“The standout young guns from last week, Alana McInerney and Aoife Corey, will come up against their old Munster Under-18 team-mate Meabh McElligott, who had a great game for Kerry last weekend. Our back row of Ciara O’Halloran, Sarah Quin and Sarah Garrett will be looking to put in a big shift around the park and control the breakdown.”

Shannon/LIT (4th) v Ballincollig (3rd), Coonagh

An immediate opportunity for both teams to bounce back from losing starts last weekend. Shannon/LIT are blooding a number of new players, while this is a key fixture for the likes of Emma and Rebecca Casey, Samara Vaz, captain Louise Fitzgerald and Ciara Clancy to shine in.

Shannon and Ballincollig, who are smarting from a 24-5 loss to newly-formed Kerry, have a good deal of recent history. They met in the 2019 Munster Women’s Division 1 Cup final which the Cork side won 25-14 with a strong-running performance.

Ballincollig’s new head coach Damien Hicks, who is assisted by former Munster and Ireland back Helen Brosnan, commented: “We’re expecting a tough battle up front. As always with Shannon, they will have a powerful pack. There were lots of good individual performances against Kerry with a number of players, on debut, forming new partnerships.

These partnerships will take time to gel but glimpses were shown at times against Kerry. The Community Series is great so teams can stay playing in the strange times we are all living in. It’s a great way for girls to play high-level games within the province.

“All the teams in the series have lots of experience and each team plays with slightly different styles, which will stand to the players going forward so they learn to adapt from game to game.”


Cavan (4th) v Queen’s University (3rd), Swellan Park

A first Energia Community Series outing for both clubs as Queen’s encounter with City of Derry last week was a Covid-19 cancellation. The students head to Cavan looking for a repeat of their Ulster Junior Cup win from last February when they came from 10 points down.

A crucial try from Diane Ramsay, Queen’s current captain, saw them take a 12-10 verdict that day, and a similarly closely-fought game is expected here. Charlie Farrell’s charges will need to take their chances at Swellan Park and defend smartly.

Coached by Andrew Vickerman, Cavan warmed up for their Ulster Conference opener with a 21-5 friendly win away to Dungannon. They were awarded a penalty try before Lisa Smith and Kerri Morgan both crossed late on, their collective display also notable for a resilient showing in defence.

City of Derry (2nd) v Malone (5th), Craig Thompson Stadium

Match cancelled – 0-0. Both teams are awarded two points.

Cooke – Bye

Energia Women’s Community Series – Fixtures/Results/Tables

* The IRFU Rugby Committee has clarified that Munster Conference 2 and Connacht Conference 2 matches cannot take place under the current Level 3 restrictions. These measures will remain in place for all competitions until October 27, after which an update will be provided

* Connacht Conference 1 kicks off on October 24