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Vodafone Women’s Interpros: Round 2 – Munster v Connacht Preview

Vodafone Women’s Interpros: Round 2 – Munster v Connacht Preview

Clare native Eimear Considine (centre) will line out at full-back for Munster in their second round showdown with Connacht ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Musgrave Park’s all-weather pitch will play to a mouth-watering top of the table clash as Connacht look to put it up to Munster, the Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship title holders.


Saturday, August 19 –

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MUNSTER (1st) v CONNACHT (2nd), Musgrave Park, 3.15pm (live on TG4)

Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship Form: Munster: W; Connacht: W
Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship Top Scorers – Munster: Points: Stephanie Carroll 15; Tries: Stephanie Carroll 3; Connacht: Points: Méabh Deely 10; Tries: Méabh Deely 2

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Eimear Considine is set for her first Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship appearance since September 2019, coming in as one of two changes to the team to play Connacht at Musgrave Park on Saturday afternoon.

Considine made her return to rugby with UL Bohemians in April, three months after giving birth to baby son Caolán, and she is now back in Munster red, joining Aoife Doyle and Stephanie Carroll in a potent back-three.

Winger Carroll, the scorer of three tries during last week’s opening 41-14 bonus point win over Ulster, said: “I feel like we’re building each week. The games are going to be tough, every team is getting better and better.

“As defending champions I know people are out to get us and there’s a target on our back, but I definitely think we’re stronger again this year with younger players coming through. We’re definitely fitter and faster, and our skill-set is much better.

“Connacht have definitely grown over the years. They’re getting better and better each season. They’ve a great backroom staff, they have the likes of (scrum coach) Laura Feely and (skills coach) Larissa Muldoon after joining them – two previous Ireland internationals.

“They have a very young squad coming through. This weekend is not going to be easy. It’ll be good. Competitive games are what we want.”

Connacht are hoping to spring another upset after edging out Leinster 18-17 in a thrilling first round clash. Niamh Briggs’ side clinched the title last season by winning 50-24 at the Sportsground, but the westerners did beat them in 2019 when a certain Beibhinn Parsons starred with a hat-trick.

On current form, Munster look well placed to continue their winning form, especially with Deirbhile Nic a Bháird restored to the number 8 role. Her inclusion in the back row means a move to lock for captain Dorothy Wall. Regular skipper Nicole Cronin remains sidelined through injury.

Continuing to give opportunities to Munster’s most talented youngsters, Briggs is poised to hand Fethard teenager Beth Buttimer her senior provincial debut as a replacement. Only turning 18 today, Buttimer has impressed for the Ireland Under-18s and can play at hooker or in the back row.

Meanwhile, Aoibheann Reilly is a notable absentee from the Connacht teamsheet. The fit-again scrum half was hugely influential against Leinster, but is unfortunately ruled out for their much-anticipated trip to Cork.

There are first starts for Galwegians duo Olivia Haverty (19) and Faith Oviawe (21), with Haverty joining captain Nicole Fowley at half-back. Kayla Waldron’s impact off the bench last week earns her selection at inside centre, which also sees Shannon Touhey revert to number 8.

It is a senior-Under-18 double header for the provinces at the Cork ground, as Connacht’s age-grade side will take on their Munster counterparts in the curtain raiser at 12.45pm.

Lyndon Jones, who coached Connacht to only their second ever senior Interpro victory over Leinster, commented: “The week has gone well. There was a great buzz at training on Tuesday, people were very excited about the performance we managed to put in against Leinster.

“But there was also a lot that we need to work on. There’s definitely a resolve to get better for this weekend because we’ll need to be better.

“This is where we want to be – we want to be challenging every team in the country and we’ve got to be able to deal with that kind of pressure.

“Munster are very good at moving the ball. They’ve a really defined attack structure, they play at real pace, and they’ll attack from anywhere. They’re a huge threat with ball in hand. It’s a slightly different challenge for us this week, but one we’re looking forward to.”

MUNSTER: Eimear Considine; Aoife Doyle, Alana McInerney, Stephanie Nunan, Stephanie Carroll; Kate Flannery, Muirne Wall; Róisín Ormond, Ciara Farrell, Fiona Reidy, Dorothy Wall (capt), Clodagh O’Halloran, Chloe Pearse, Maeve Óg O’Leary, Deirbhile Nic a Bháird.

Replacements: Beth Buttimer, Eilís Cahill, Claire Bennett, Brianna Heylmann, Jane Clohessy, Abbie Salter-Townshend, Ellen Boylan, Heather Kennedy.

CONNACHT: Méabh Deely; Ava Ryder, Clara Barrett, Kayla Waldron, Laoise McGonagle; Nicole Fowley (capt), Olivia Haverty; Grainne O’Loughlin, Lily Brady, Shannon Heapes, Sonia McDermott, Faith Oviawe, Orla Fenton, Karly Tierney, Shannon Touhey.

Replacements: Stacy Hanley, Niamh O’Grady, Dearbhla Canty, Mollie Starr, Ivana Kiripati, Maria Kelleher, Cliodhna O’Sullivan, Orla Dixon.