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Two Irish Squads Announced For Celtic Challenge Opener

Two Irish Squads Announced For Celtic Challenge Opener

Wolfhounds players India Daley and Dannah O'Brien are pictured with Clovers duo Maeve Óg O'Leary and Méabh Deely at the IRFU High Performance Centre in Blanchardstown ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

The starting XVs have been confirmed for Friday’s Celtic Challenge first round derby between the two Irish teams, the Wolfhounds and the Clovers, at Musgrave Park (kick-off 4pm).

Wolfhounds head coach Neill Alcorn and his Clovers counterpart, Denis Fogarty, have included a mix of international players and promising club and provincial talent in their respective squads. The game will be streamed live on RugbyPass TV.

The Celtic Challenge returns for a second year with an expanded format. The three Unions’ cross-border competition, with support from World Rugby, is being boosted from three to six teams across Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Munster’s Dorothy Wall will captain the Clovers (Connacht and Munster) for the first matchday, with her Blackrock College club-mate, Hannah O’Connor, skippering the Wolfhounds (Leinster and Ulster). O’Connor led Leinster to Interprovincial glory at Musgrave Park back in September.

Eleven players from UL Bohemians, the current Energia All-Ireland League leaders, backbone the Clovers selection. There is a welcome return from injury for Nicole Cronin, who starts at scrum half, and Wall is joined at lock by Ireland prospect Ruth Campbell.

Ballincollig’s Michelle O’Driscoll and Faith Oviawe of Railway Union have been rewarded with starts following their consistent club form, while UL Bohs’ top points scorer, Kate Flannery, will look to make an impact off the Clovers’ bench.

Ulster winger Niamh Marley is the odd one out in an almost all-Leinster back-line chosen for the Wolfhounds. Wicklow’s Erin McConnell joins Dannah O’Brien at half-back, and Sarah Delaney and Fiona Tuite, who both won their first Ireland caps during the recent WXV3 tournament, feature up front.

Queen’s University medical student Maebh Clenaghan was part of the first ever Ireland Women’s Under-20 squad earlier this year, along with fellow Wolfhounds front row replacement, Hannah Wilson. Old Belvedere’s Éadaoin Murtagh is also poised for her Celtic Challenge bow.

Purchase tickets for Friday’s Celtic Challenge derby here, and the match is also available to watch for free on RugbyPass TV.

WOLFHOUNDS Team & Replacements (v Clovers, Celtic Challenge Round 1, Musgrave Park, Friday, December 29, kick-off 4pm):

15. Natasja Behan (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
14. Aimee Clarke (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)
13. Aoife Dalton (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)
12. Leah Tarpey (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)
11. Niamh Marley (Dungannon RFC/Cooke RFC/Ulster)
10. Dannah O’Brien (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)
9. Erin McConnell (Wicklow RFC/Leinster)
1. Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)
2. Sarah Delaney (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
3. Sophie Barrett (Enniskillen RFC/Railway Union RFC/Ulster)
4. Fiona Tuite (Old Belvedere RFC/Ulster)
5. Keelin Brady (Railway Union RFC/Ulster)
6. Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster) (capt)
7. Aoife Wafer (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
8. Brittany Hogan (Old Belvedere RFC/Ulster)


16. Maebh Clenaghan (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
17. Hannah Wilson (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)
18. Isobel Clerk (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)
19. Eimear Corri (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
20. Éadaoin Murtagh (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)
21. Katie Whelan (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)
22. Nikki Caughey (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)
23. Ella Durkan (Blackrock College RFC/Ulster)

CLOVERS Team & Replacements (v Wolfhounds, Celtic Challenge Round 1, Musgrave Park, Friday, December 29, kick-off 4pm):

15. Aoife Corey (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)
14. Alana McInerney (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)
13. Michelle O’Driscoll (Ballincollig RFC/Munster)
12. Kayla Waldron (Railway Union RFC/Connacht)
11. Clare Gorman (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)
10. Méabh Deely (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht)
9. Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)
1. Niamh O’Dowd (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)
2. Beth Buttimer (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)
3. Sadhbh McGrath (Cooke RFC/Ulster)
4. Ruth Campbell (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)
5. Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College RFC/Munster) (capt)
6. Brianna Heylmann (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)
7. Faith Oviawe (Railway Union RFC/Connacht)
8. Shannon Touhey (Tullamore RFC/Connacht)


16. Lily Brady (UL Bohemian RFC/Connacht)
17. Róisín Ormond (Ballincollig RFC/Munster)
18. Eilís Cahill (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)
19. Claire Bennett (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)
20. Eva McCormack (UL Bohemian RFC/Connacht)
21. Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)
22. Kate Flannery (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)
23. Clara Barrett (UL Bohemian RFC/Connacht)

Fixtures & Tickets –

Wolfhounds v Clovers
Friday, December 29, Musgrave Park, 4pm
(Purchase Tickets Here)

Edinburgh Rugby v Wolfhounds        
Saturday, January 6, Hive Stadium, 2pm

Clovers v West Wales
Saturday, January 6, Energia Park, 2.30pm
(Purchase Tickets Here)

Glasgow Warriors v Wolfhounds      
Saturday, January 13, Scotstoun Stadium, 2pm

Clovers v East Wales
Sunday, January 14, Musgrave Park, 1pm
(Purchase Tickets Here)

Wolfhounds v West Wales
Saturday, January 27, Kingspan Stadium, 7.30pm

Glasgow Warriors v Clovers  
Saturday, January 27, Scotstoun Stadium, 2pm

Wolfhounds v East Wales
Saturday, February 3, Energia Park, 2.30pm
(Purchase Tickets Here)

Edinburgh Rugby v Clovers
Saturday, February 3, Hive Stadium, 12.30pm

Play-Off Rounds:

Saturday, February 17, Scotstoun Stadium
Saturday, February 24, Kingspan Stadium
Sunday, March 3, Parc y Scarlets