Jump to main content



Energia All-Ireland League: Women’s Division Semi-Final Previews

Energia All-Ireland League: Women’s Division Semi-Final Previews

Galwegians' Orla Dixon makes a break during their Energia All-Ireland League encounter with Suttonians back in September ©INPHO/Tom Maher

It is a showpiece day in the Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division calendar, with live and deferred coverage of the two semi-finals provided on the Irish Rugby YouTube channel.


Saturday, December 3

Kick-off 5pm unless stated –

BLACKROCK COLLEGE (1st) v UL BOHEMIANS (4th), Stradbrook

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Blackrock College: WWWWWWWW; UL Bohemians: LLWLWWWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Blackrock College: Points: Méabh Deely 68; Tries: Michelle Claffey 8; UL Bohemians: Points: Clara Barrett 25; Tries: Clara Barrett 5

Preview: Fresh from scoring 24 points against Suttonians, Méabh Deely is restored to full-back for Blackrock College’s eagerly-awaited semi-final clash with UL Bohemians. Ben Martin’s side topped the table with eight wins out of eight.

Ella Durkan and Jackie Shiels come into the ‘Rock back-line, while Eimear Corri starts at lock and Ireland star Dorothy Wall is back to bolster the bench. ‘Rock will be mindful that UL are much improved since October’s 63-7 defeat.

Wall’s international colleague Chloe Pearse returns to captain the Red Robins who have timed their run to the play-offs brilliantly. Talented teenager Clara Barrett, who has five tries to her name, switches to full-back for a direct battle with Deely.

Bohs boss Niamh Briggs also fields a young midfield combination in Briana Heylmann and Kate Flannery, who will have a fascinating tussle with ‘Rock’s experienced pairing of Shiels and skipper Michelle Claffey. Flannery won an All-Ireland Colleges title with UL in midweek.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 29, 2022: UL Bohemians 22 Blackrock College 31, UL Arena; Saturday, October 15, 2022: UL Bohemians 7 Blackrock College 63, UL Arena

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Blackrock College to win

RAILWAY UNION (2nd) v OLD BELVEDERE (3rd), Park Avenue

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Railway Union: WWWWWWLW; Old Belvedere: WWWWWLLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Railway Union: Points: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 50; Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 10; Old Belvedere: Points: Dannah O’Brien 70; Tries: Clare Gorman, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird 4 each

Preview: Stung by a recent defeat to Blackrock College, reigning Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division champions Railway Union are aiming to show their pedigree in the pre-Christmas title shootout.

Railway’s senior coach Larissa Muldoon commented: “We had a very close game against Old Belvedere in the league (winning 15-11). They’ve had a little more time off than us and I’m sure they’ll have used that time to prepare well.”

Scrum coach Lindsay Peat returns at loosehead prop for the three-in-a-row hopefuls, with Megan Collis, Sonia McDermott and winger Aimee Clarke the other changes to the side that won 22-5 at Wicklow last time out.

Old Belvedere are missing Aoife Dalton who is away on Sevens duty in Dubai, but they still have plenty of firepower. Dannah O’Brien, the division’s top points scorer with 70 points, and captain Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird stand out as potential match winners.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 29, 2022: Railway Union 11 Old Belvedere 10, Park Avenue; Saturday, November 5, 2022: Railway Union 15 Old Belvedere 11, Park Avenue

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Railway Union to win

WICKLOW (5th) v BALLINCOLLIG (8th), Ashtown Lane

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Wicklow: LLDWWWLL; Ballincollig: LLLDLLLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Wicklow: Points: Beth Roberts 31; Tries: Ella Roberts, Suzanne Tyrrell, Linda Dempsey, Sarah Gleeson, Jocelyn Jones, Caoimhe Molloy 2 each; Ballincollig: Points: Heather Kennedy 15; Tries: Heather Kennedy 3

Preview: Wicklow and Galwegians are both aiming to make home advantage count in the Conference semi-finals. It has been a dream campaign so far for Wicklow, and their captain Erin McConnell is looking to extend it to a potential home final next week.

“I think if we keep level-headed and we don’t get too ahead of ourselves, it’s definitely achievable,” she said. “There are a couple of teams looking to get one up on this, that have run us pretty close this year, so we need to keep that competitive edge on.”

Full-back Heather Kennedy, who was selected for the Ireland Sevens Development squad, is a big loss for Ballincollig. Yet, Kelly Griffin is an able deputy and as shown during October’s encounter at Tanner Park, their Clodagh Walsh-led pack will provide a stern test for Wicklow.

Jason Moreton’s Wicklow team has Meagan Parkinson and scrum half McConnell returning as starting backs. Player coach Niamh Ni Dhroma packs down at number 8, with the strong-carrying Caoimhe Molloy switching to blindside flanker.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 26, 2022: Ballincollig 0 Wicklow 31, Tanner Park; Saturday, October 8, 2022: Ballincollig 10 Wicklow 10, Tanner Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Wicklow to win

GALWEGIANS (6th) v SUTTONIANS (7th), Crowley Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Galwegians: WDWLLLLL; Suttonians: DLWLLLWL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Galwegians: Points: Nicole Fowley 56; Tries: Laoise McGonagle 5; Suttonians: Points: Janita Kareta 15; Tries: Janita Kareta 3

Preview: Just over nine months on from their memorable Conference final showdown, both Galwegians and Suttonians will have been disappointed with how they finished the regular season. They have just one win between them in the last five rounds.

So, the Conference play-offs, leading up to Christmas, come at an opportune time. Reigning Conference champions Suttonians bring former Galwegian Shannon Touhey in at outside centre, with Australian Annie Buntine moved to the left wing.

Julia O’Connor and powerhouse carrier Mary Healy both start in the front row, with Grainne Tummon switched to the lock position. The tight five battle will be intriguing with ‘Wegians handing starts to Emily Gavin, at hooker, and Ellen Connolly.

Lisa-Marie Murphy, noted for her ability in the lineout and the breakdown, anchors the Blue Belles’ back row. It was a tale of two halves when these clubs met in September, Sutts coming from 24-7 down to snatch the lead before prop Connolly’s late levelling try.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 26, 2022: Conference Final – Suttonians 26 Galwegians 0, Energia Park; Saturday, September 17, 2022: Suttonians 31 Galwegians 31, JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Galwegians to win