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Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division: Round 1 Previews

Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division: Round 1 Previews

Some of the players from the competing Energia All-Ireland League Women's Division clubs are pictured with IRFU President Greg Barrett ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Following an action-packed Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial campaign, the Energia All-Ireland League takes centre stage with today’s first round fixtures in Dublin, Galway and Wicklow.


Saturday, September 16 –

Kick-off 5pm unless stated:

BLACKROCK COLLEGE v OLD BELVEDERE, Stradbrook (live stream on Irish Rugby TV)

#EnergiaAIL Live: Blackrock v Old Belvedere Preview

Interpro Winners Rosser And O’Connor Back As #EnergiaAIL Rivals

Reigning champions Blackrock College host Old Belvedere, who were beaten semi-finalists last December. Stan McDowell leads a new ‘Rock coaching team, and their first starting XV contains five members of the Ulster team that recently ended their win drought in the Interpros.

Provincial captains Hannah O’Connor and Beth Cregan provide leadership from ‘Rock’s back row, while Laois teenager Koren Dunne looks to have a bright future at lock. Flanker Lesley Ring skippers an Old Belvedere side that includes young Ireland internationals Emma Tilly and Jess Keating.

Fresh from Leinster’s Interpro success, Tania Rosser takes the ‘Belvo coaching reins. With both clubs missing most of their senior international players, the visitors give starts to Ireland Under-20 players Amy O’Mahony, Caoimhe Guinan and Hannah Wilson.


There are coaching changes for both Galwegians and Ballincollig. New Zealander Mike Pettman, who was previously a technical skills development coach at Munster, take charge of the ‘Collig side, while Dave Clarke is now ‘Wegians head coach having been assistant to Eoghan Maher last season.

Evanna Finn deputises for the Ireland-tied Nicole Fowley at out-half for the Blue Belles, while Dearbhla Canty and Ann Marie Herward form a powerful second row pairing. Ballincollig welcome back Gemma Lane at scrum half, and Munster pair Roisin Ormond and Gillian Coombes are key cogs in their tight five.

Ballincollig director of rugby Tadgh Hurley commented: “Mike, Helen Brosnan and Denis Fogarty have been doing some great work with the girls. Galwegians are tough competitors. The team need to back themselves, trust in their preparation and stick to the game-plan. It should be a cracking game.”


It was a season to remember for Wicklow in 2022/23, lifting both the All-Ireland Conference and Shield trophies, and the task is now to build on those performances. They ran UL Bohemians very close (27-24) in the corresponding fixture a year ago, only losing out to a Muirne Wall try.

Fiona Hayes, who is back at UL Bohs’ helm, gives a debut to Connacht speedster Laoise McGonagle on the left wing. Teenager Beth Buttimer, who recently won her first three Munster senior caps, gets the nod at hooker, and Chloe Pearse captains from the number 8 position.

Wicklow have a good deal of continuity from last term, with recent Leinster newcomer Naoise O’Reilly a real flyer from full-back. Out-half Beth Roberts has one of the best boots in the league, and newly-appointed captain Caoimhe Molloy is a ball-carrying threat off the base of the scrum.

SUTTONIANS v RAILWAY UNION, JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds (Postponed – to be played on Thursday, September 28, kick-off 8pm)