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Claffey ‘Very Excited’ For Leinster’s Return To Action

Claffey ‘Very Excited’ For Leinster’s Return To Action

Offaly native Michelle Claffey has a key leadership role for Leinster, the defending Vodafone Women's Interprovincial champions ©INPHO/Gary Carr

After an almost two-year wait, Leinster will kick off their Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship campaign against Connacht this Saturday.

Ahead of the trip to Galway (kick-off 2.45pm), new head coach Phil de Barra says that the Leinster Women are looking forward to finally getting back into competitive action.

“We’re excited more than anything else. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. We’re just dying to get out there now,” said de Barra, who was assistant coach to Ben Armstrong when Leinster were champions in 2018 and 2019.

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With the Ireland squad also in camp, all four provinces will be without a number of players, but de Barra believes that this will only create opportunities for players.

“Our team is absolutely ready. We’ve some players coming through the player pathway. We do have some young players but we also have a lot of experienced players.

“I’m certain they will be able to step up and that they are ready to go. If you’re looking at the pressures of this game, we haven’t been able to play for two years so benches are finishers now, they’re not supporting players.

“No matter how prepared you are for a game fitness-wise, it’s going to be the first match in a while and it’s an interpro game so it’s going to be tough.”

Vice-captain Michelle Claffey says that the players are ready for this weekend’s challenge at the Sportsground, noting:

We want to represent our province, but we also want to represent our clubs that got us through the Covid pandemic. We’ve done a lot of team bonding and we’ve all done club exercises to keep morale going.

“But now, we get to go out and show everyone what we can do, and represent our clubs and our province. It’s very exciting.”

While this may be the first Interprovincial experience for some of the squad, Claffey believes that the young players are ready to step up.

“All of the new players have come through the Leinster Under-18 pathway and everyone in the squad has represented Leinster before. So, everyone knows what it is like to represent Leinster.

“Everyone’s a little bit nervous but that’s normal. It’s going to be a tremendous game on Saturday. It’s on TG4 so it’s very exciting,” she added.