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Celtic Challenge Kit Reveal And Coaching Teams Announced

India Daley, Dannah O’Brien, Maeve Óg O’Leary and Meabh Deely 15/12/2023

Pictured at the launch of the Celtic Challenge match kits are India Daley and Dannah O'Brien from the Wolfhounds (Leinster and Ulster), and Maeve Óg O'Leary and Méabh Deely representing the Clovers (Connacht and Munster) ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) is delighted to announce the appointment of the two new head coaches, Denis Fogarty and Neill Alcorn, for the upcoming Celtic Challenge competition.

Along with the announcement of the coaching teams today, the IRFU revealed the new match kits of the Clovers and Wolfhounds, which they will wear across the Celtic Challenge campaign.

The Celtic Challenge returns for the second year with an expanded format. The competition is being boosted from three to six teams across Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Fogarty has been appointed head coach of the Clovers (Connacht and Munster), and Alcorn will take charge of the Wolfhounds (Leinster and Ulster).

Both head coaches have worked with Irish Rugby teams before, with Fogarty the current scrum coach with the Ireland Women’s side, and Alcorn the current IRFU Women’s National Talent Coach for Ulster. Both management teams will also provide a development opportunity for aspiring and promising coaches in a competitive environment.

Fogarty will lead the Clovers selection, with current Women’s National Talent Coach for Munster, Niamh Briggs, as assistant coach, and Deirbhile Nic a Bháird as the development coach.

While Alcorn will be the head coach with the Wolfhounds squad, Michelle Claffey has come on board as assistant coach and fellow former Ireland international Judy Bobbett will be the Wolfhounds development coach.

A former professional rugby player with Munster from 2004 to 2012, and then French clubs Aurillac, Aden and Provence Rugby until 2016, Fogarty embarked on his coaching career following his retirement from the game.

He worked as head academy coach with Provence Rugby in France for two seasons and is currently forwards coach with Energia All-Ireland League clubs Cork Constitution (Men) and Ballincollig (Women).

Commenting on his appointment with the Clovers, Fogarty said:

I am proud to join as head coach with the Clovers, after working for the past year and a half with the Ireland Women’s team, as scrum coach.

“The potential of the squad is exciting, and I’m really looking forward to working with all the players, management, and backroom team throughout the competition.

“We are excited about the challenges ahead and we’ll be working hard, as a squad, to be competitive in all our games during this season’s competition.”

Alcorn, the current Women’s Talent ID Coach for Ulster, has also coached both male and female pathway programmes, working with regional and development squads from Under-16 and up to the senior Women’s team.

Speaking about his new role with the Wolfhounds side, he said:

I have been very fortunate to work alongside and learn from some brilliant coaches throughout my time with Ulster Rugby, who have helped me develop my coaching skills.

“I am really looking forward to the start of the Celtic Challenge. It’s an integral tournament for the development of Women’s rugby players in Ireland.

“We have a good mix of experience and youth in the squads. We are very excited for the first game on Friday, December 29. It’s a great way to start the campaign with a derby match which always brings excitement in camp.”

The first game of the Celtic Challenge competition will see the Irish teams play in a home derby at Musgrave Park on Friday, December 29 (kick-off 1pm). Tickets for all home games will be available through the provinces.