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Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division: Round 3 Previews

Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division: Round 3 Previews

Young Ulster prop Sophie Barrett drives forward for Railway Union during their away win over Suttonians last time out ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Round three has earlier kick-offs for UL Bohemians and Railway Union, the two teams at the top of the Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division, while reigning champions Blackrock College return to action with a trip down the coast to Wicklow.


Saturday, October 7 –

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Kick-off 5pm unless stated:

SUTTONIANS (6th) v UL BOHEMIANS (1st), JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds, 1pm

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Suttonians: WL; UL Bohemians: WW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Suttonians: Points: Mary Healy, Grainne Tummon, Leomie Kloppers, Katelyn Faust 5 each; Tries: Mary Healy, Grainne Tummon, Leomie Kloppers 1 each; UL Bohemians: Points: Kate Flannery 20; Tries: Alana McInerney 3

Preview: Having opened their campaign by winning on the road in Ballincollig, Suttonians are in the midst of a difficult run of fixtures against three of last season’s top four finishers. They fell away in the second half against Railway Union, losing by 37 points.

First round leaders UL Bohemians are back together after providing the vast majority of the players involved in Munster’s clash with the Barbarians last week. Chisom Ugwueru comes in on the left wing for Bohs, who also give starts to Ciara O’Dywer and Claire Bennett in the tight five.

Suttonians bring Amber Redmond and Meabh O’Brien into their back-line, with captain Brenda Barr reverting to number 8, setting up a mouth-watering individual battle with Bohs skipper Chloe Pearse. A strengthened bench includes Mary Healy, one of their try scorers against ‘Collig.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 11, 2021: Suttonians 3 UL Bohemians 43, JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds; Saturday, November 5, 2022: UL Bohemians 43 Suttonians 5, Castletroy College

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UL Bohemians to win

GALWEGIANS (9th) v RAILWAY UNION (2nd), Crowley Park, 2.30pm

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Galwegians: LL; Railway Union: WW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Galwegians: Points: Orla Fenton, Evanna Finn 5 each; Tries: Orla Fenton, Evanna Finn 1 each; Railway Union: Points: Nikki Caughey 26; Tries: Aimee Clarke 3

Preview: Following on from their heavy defeat to UL Bohs, Galwegians head coach Dave Clarke has made five changes in personnel. Emma O’Leary and Eimear Hynes fill the wing berths, and Gemma Faulkner, a promising youngster from Mullingar, switches to the full-back position.

Spanish recruit Marta Hernandez Sanchez, Connacht’s Dearbhla Canty and lock Jane Neill are added to the Blue Belles’ rejigged pack. Railway welcome back Lindsay Peat and Ailsa Hughes, at number 8 and scrum half respectively, following their exploits with the Barbarians.

Aimee Clarke, the division’s joint-top try scorer so far with three, moves to full-back in place of Ava Ryder. Alaïs Diebold is promoted from the bench to join the back-three, and there is a second outing for Railway’s newly-formed centre pairing of Kayla Waldron, who played for ‘Wegians last season, and Deirdre Roberts.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 4, 2021: Railway Union 72 Galwegians 0, Park Avenue; Saturday, October 22, 2023: Galwegians 7 Railway Union 57, Crowley Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Railway Union to win

COOKE (8th) v BALLINCOLLIG (4th), Clement Wilson Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Cooke: L; Ballincollig: WL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Cooke: Points: Niamh Marley 5; Tries: Niamh Marley 1; Ballincollig: Points: Heather Kennedy 10; Tries: Heather Kennedy 2

Preview: Stacey Sloan moves from number 8 to inside centre for Cooke’s first home league fixture of the season. Another big ball carrier returns in the form of former Ulster and Ireland prop Ilse van Staden, who packs down in the front row alongside her wife Alanagh and Aoife Cahill.

Laura Cairns, who is now stationed at out-half, and Amanda Morton swap positions in the Belfast club’s back-line. Cara O’Kane steps up as captain in the absence of Aishling O’Connell. Cooke won 24-10 when they last hosted Ballincollig just over two years ago.

Nonetheless, the Cork outfit can draw confidence from last year’s 22-10 and 15-3 home victories over Cooke. Ellen Cournane’s reward for her try against Suttonians is a start on the left wing. Kelly Griffin shifts to out-half, and bright prospect Saskia Wycherley, who has captained the Munster and Ireland Under-18s, is added to the bench.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 29, 2022: Ballincollig 22 Cooke 10, Tanner Park; Saturday, November 19, 2022: Ballincollig 15 Cooke 3, Tanner Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cooke to win

WICKLOW (7th) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (5th), Ashtown Lane

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Wicklow: LL; Blackrock College: W
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Wicklow: Points: Jessica Griffey 5; Tries: Jessica Griffey 1; Blackrock College: Points: Beth Cregan 10; Tries: Beth Cregan 2

Preview: Hannah Rose Buckley and Ciara Short will make their full All-Ireland League debuts as Wicklow entertain title holders Blackrock. The pair are promoted from the bench to start on the left wing and at blindside flanker respectively. Suzanne Tyrrell and Loretta Gilbert make way.

With Lauren Barry and Laura Newsome also coming in, Wicklow captain Caoimhe Molloy switches back to number 8, putting her on a collision course with Blackrock skipper Hannah O’Connor. ‘Rock won by 28 points when they last visited Ashtown Lane.

Connacht teenager Cliodhna O’Sullivan makes her first AIL start for ‘Rock at full-back. Ella Durkan and Emily Whittle switch positions to inside centre and blindside flanker respectively, while Niamh Tester and Leinster’s Aoife Moore are both back to bolster the front row.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 9, 2021: Blackrock College 63 Wicklow 0, Stradbrook; Saturday, September 10, 2022: Wicklow 17 Blackrock College 45, Ashtown Lane

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Blackrock College to win

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