Jump to main content


Combined Provinces XV Named For Opening Celtic Challenge Match

Clara Barrett and Maeve Óg O’Leary

Clara Barrett and Maeve Óg O’Leary at the IRFU High Performance Centre.

The Combined Provinces XV Match Day squad, sponsored by Vodafone, has been named for the opening game of the Celtic Challenge, as Greg McWilliams‘ young side travel to Cardiff to face the WRU Development XV this Sunday [Kick-off 11am].

Ireland Women’s Head Coach McWilliams earlier this week named a 43-player squad for the inaugural Celtic Challenge, a new cross-border competition which will help prepare players for Test rugby and allow the National Coaching Team an extended window of time to work with the country’s best young talent.

The extended panel assembled at the IRFU High Performance Centre in Dublin this week and will take on the WRU Development XV at Cardiff Arms Park in the first of four matches, with McWilliams naming an exciting team for Sunday.

Ireland international Hannah O’Connor will captain the Combined Provinces XV for the trip to Wales, with a number of standout performers from the Energia All-Ireland League and Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship handed their opportunity to impress the National Coaching Team ahead of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations, which gets underway in late March.

Speaking ahead of the game, O’Connor said: “After four weeks of high quality rugby with our Provinces, it has been great to link up as a squad this week and build for what is an incredibly exciting challenge ahead. There is a great mix of youth and experience in the squad, which bodes really well for us as we try to bring that exciting talent through.

“The Celtic Challenge is another stepping stone from the AIL and Interpros and the opportunity to continue building match minutes is invaluable for us as a wider squad moving towards the Six Nations. We hope as many young players can come in to this high performance environment and learn and grow as rugby players, while putting their best foot forward for selection leading into the Championship.”

On Sunday’s opening fixture, Head Coach McWilliams added: “This is a great opportunity for us as we continue to develop and grow as a squad. We have the chance to challenge and test ourselves in new ways through the Celtic Challenge, and there is a lot of excitement within the group heading over to Cardiff.

“The young players who have impressed us during the AIL and Interpros have come into camp and been eager and ready to learn, equally the more experienced players have taken on new leadership roles which will be highly valuable leading into the Six Nations.”

Match highlights and report will be provided by the host Union for each game.


Combined Provinces XV (v WRU Development XV)

15. Maeve Liston (Ulster/Blackrock College RFC)
14. Orla Dixon (Connacht/Galwegians RFC)
13. Aoife Dalton (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)
12. Kelly McCormill (Ulster/Cooke RFC)
11. Ella Roberts (Leinster/Wicklow RFC)
10. Dannah O’Brien (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)
9. Ailsa Hughes (Leinster/Railway Union RFC)

1. Niamh O’Dowd (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)
2. Emma Hooban (Leinster/Blackrock College RFC)
3. Christy Haney (Leinster/Blackrock College RFC)
4. Claire Bennett (Munster/UL Bohemians RFC)
5. Clodagh O’Halloran (Munster/UL Bohemians RFC)
6. Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Munster/Old Belvedere RFC)
7. Maeve Og O’Leary (Munster/Blackrock College RFC)
8. Hannah O’Connor (Leinster/Blackrock College RFC) (captain)


16. Chloe Blackmore (Leinster/Railway Union RFC)
17. Sadhbh McGrath (Ulster/Cooke RFC)
18. Linda Djougang (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)
19. India Daley  (Ulster/Cooke RFC/Enniskillen RFC)
20. Molly Boyne (Leinster/Railway Union RFC/Dublin University FC)
21. Katie Whelan (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)
22. Clara Barrett (Connacht/UL Bohemians RFC)
23. Ella Durkan (Ulster/Blackrock College RFC).