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#EnergiaAIL Women’s Division Final Preview: Blackrock College v Railway Union

#EnergiaAIL Women’s Division Final Preview: Blackrock College v Railway Union

Captains Michelle Claffey and Niamh Byrne will lead their respective Blackrock College and Railway Union teams into battle at Energia Park ©INPHO/Ben Brady

The final sprint for Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division silverware brings together Blackrock College and defending champions Railway Union for the second year running.


Saturday, December 17 –

BLACKROCK COLLEGE (1st) v RAILWAY UNION (2nd), Energia Park, 2pm (live TG4/TG4 Player)

Click Here To Purchase Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division Final Tickets

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Blackrock College: WWWWWWWWW; Railway Union: WWWWWWLWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Blackrock College: Points: Méabh Deely 76; Tries: Michelle Claffey 9; Railway Union: Points: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 50; Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 10

Previous Energia All-Ireland League Titles – Blackrock College: 5 (1992/93, 1994/95, 1995/96, 1996/97, 2007/08); Railway Union: 2 (2018/19, 2021/22)

Preview: Stephanie Carroll, the scorer of the title-winning try in the 2019 final, will start for Railway Union in this afternoon’s Energia All-Ireland Women’s Division decider.

Carroll comes onto the right wing for the Energia Park clash with Blackrock College. She replaces Ireland international Aoife Doyle whose grandmother has sadly passed away. with the funeral taking place today in Limerick.

Table toppers Blackrock are set to field an unchanged team from last week’s postponed game, the only alteration to the matchday squad seeing recent Ireland new cap Natasja Behan added to the bench.

Railway are bidding to become the first three in-a-row champions since Old Belvedere seven years ago. It is a last league final for their long-time director of rugby and head coach John Cronin, who is stepping down at the end of the season due to work commitments.

“A three in-a-row hasn’t even crossed my mind,” insisted Cronin. “The game is the game, it never ends, and there’s another game coming along a few weeks after this.

“The goal is to keep getting better and to grow as people. Some years we win, some years we don’t and neither makes us good or bad people, or good or bad athletes or coaches. The point is to enjoy the journey with the people on our journey with us.

“For example, last Sunday morning was probably one of the most enjoyable training sessions we’ve ever had. Cold, snow and an early start but it just felt special for everyone. It’s hard to explain but was apparent to all who were there.

“We learned an awful lot from our recent (league) loss to ‘Rock. Sometimes you need games like that, a game of no real consequence that really causes coaches and athletes to examine themselves, challenge each other and keep each other honest.

“Whilst we learned a lot about them, we learned even more about ourselves. Seldom is much learned in victory. We had it last year. They beat us at home then too but we won the two knockout games that counted. I’m sure that will be in the back of their minds too.”

Meanwhile, Blackrock, who are out for revenge after losing last February’s final 24-18 to Railway, come into the match battle-hardened after a tough 13-8 semi-final victory at home to UL Bohemians. They last lifted the league trophy in 2008.

‘Rock’s head coach Ben Martin, who is assisted by Philip Doyle and Katie Fitzhenry, admitted: “We didn’t play the best or most attractive rugby (in the semi-final) but it showed us we can stick in a dog-fight and win ugly.

“Last year we may have got a little caught up in the event of a final and took too long to get the wheels moving. When you’re chasing a game against Railway it’s always a tough ask, let alone in a final where they have established themselves as a very competent club.

“The balance of the new additions to our team this year has been fantastic, including half-backs Enya Breen and Tatum Bird. But the biggest impact that has been felt across the team is of Mairead Holohan in the second row with her consistency and attention to detail.

“She’s set the standards for the young pack to follow. Especially with the absence of the international back row we would have hoped to field a little sooner, she has been outstanding all season.”

John Robinson, Niamh Byrne, Michelle Claffey and Lorna Danaher 5/12/2022

BLACKROCK COLLEGE: Méabh Deely; Maeve Liston, Michelle Claffey (capt), Ella Durkan, Anna Doyle; Enya Breen, Tatum Bird; Aoife Moore, Emma Hooban, Laura Feely, Eimear Corri, Mairead Holohan, Dorothy Wall, Maeve Óg O’Leary, Hannah O’Connor.

Replacements: Beth Cregan, Christy Haney, Shannon Heapes, Ali Coleman, Natasja Behan, Lisa Mullen, Jackie Shiels, Ciara Scanlan.

RAILWAY UNION: Molly Scuffil-McCabe; Stephanie Carroll, Niamh Byrne (capt), Aoife O’Shaughnessy, Aimee Clarke; Nikki Caughey, Ailsa Hughes; Lindsay Peat, Chloe Blackmore, Katie O’Dwyer, Keelin Brady, Aoife McDermott, Carmen Rodera, Molly Boyne, Deirdre Roberts.

Replacements: Lisa Callan, Grainne O’Loughlin, Megan Collis, Sonia McDermott, Emerson Allen, Emma Fabby, Leah Tarpey, Ava Ryder.

Referee: Jonny Erskine (IRFU)

Pre-Match Links –

#EnergiaAIL Video Preview: Corcoran, Reilly And Savage Look Ahead To Saturday Showdown

‘We Learned So Many Lessons From Blackrock Defeat’ – Muldoon

Fitzhenry: It’s Been Game By Game, Week By Week To Get Back Here

Route To #EnergiaAIL Final: Blackrock College

Route To #EnergiaAIL Final: Railway Union

Deely Overhauls O’Brien In Points Scoring Stakes

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 26, 2022: Final – Blackrock College 18 Railway Union 24, Energia Park; Saturday, November 12, 2022: Railway Union 17 Blackrock College 19, Park Avenue

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Blackrock College to win