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Flannery Aiming To Fly High On Summer Series Stage

Flannery Aiming To Fly High On Summer Series Stage

Kate Flannery is set to feature for the Ireland Under-20 Women at next month's inaugural Six Nations Women's Summer Series ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

There are plenty of young up-and-coming out-halves in Irish Rugby to get excited about for the future, and UL Bohemian and Munster’s Kate Flannery is definitely one of those talents.

Flannery, who hails from the Tipperary village of Bansha, has been selected in the Ireland Under-20 Women’s training squad (sponsored by PwC) that is preparing for the inaugural Six Nations Women’s Summer Series.

The 20-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough season that saw her impress for her province during the Vodafone Interprovincial Championship before continuing that form with UL Bohs whom she helped to win their first Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division title since 2018.

She was also a standout performer in the Celtic Challenge competition with the Clovers, earning herself a call-up to the Ireland squad as a training panellist for the Guinness Women’s Six Nations.

Having experienced the senior set-up under Ireland head coach Scott Bemand, many believe it is only a matter of time before she gets her opportunity at Test level. For Flannery, the honour of playing for her country is never lost on her.

“It’s amazing. Even being up at training, you come and train hard and I try to do my best, but even if you sit back and just look at where I am and the facilities (at the IRFU High Performance Centre), you walk in the hall and you could be passing people from the senior team,” she explained.

“At the start of the year, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity, a few of us on the Under-20 squad now got the opportunity to train with the seniors before the Six Nations. That was a surreal experience.

“Seeing players like Aoife Wafer, who you get to train with every day. It was just a good experience to see what the standard is like and how professional it is, and how much you have to dial in. It’s a different standard than you’d be used to.”

The Munster starlet started playing rugby at the age of eight,’initially with the boys’ in Kilfeacle RFC, before moving on to Fethard & District RFC to play and excel with the girls teams up to Under-18 level.

She was capped by the Munster and Ireland Under-18s in both 15s and Sevens, while also being brought into the IRFU’s Women’s National Talent Squad (WNTS) programme as a promising teenager.

She is an accomplished all-round athlete who previously played for her county at underage level in both camogie and Gaelic football, but it was her commitment and love for rugby that prevailed in the end.

“I feel like when you make a friend on a rugby pitch, it’s like a different relationship to anyone. You go out and die for each other. I’ve so many good friends from the years in rugby.

“There’s just no better feeling coming off the pitch knowing you’ve put in the work and you’ve earned that performance,” she admitted.

Rugby certainly runs in the Flannery family, as Kate’s eldest brother Jake (25), a former Ireland Under-20 player himself in 2019, is contracted with Ulster, while her 23-year-old brother, Alan, plays for Shannon in the All-Ireland League. She will often ask her siblings for advice.

“They’ve been class. Jake’s been so helpful. Even just doing the odd kicking session with me, and even just seeing how resilient and motivated he’s been. That’s transferred to me and he’s taught me a lot on and off the pitch.

“It’s so handy (that we share the same position of out-half) when it comes to review. I’ll send him a few clips and say, ‘what do you think of this, what can I improve here?’, and vice versa, so it’s really nice to have that support.”

Kate was involved in the first ever Ireland U-20 Women’s squad last summer. It proved to be a landmark moment for the IRFU Women’s Pathway, with Ireland playing training games against both Italy and Scotland.

Adding further momentum to the U-20 Women’s programme, Six Nations Rugby launched an exciting development competition for this summer, designed to support the progression of players through the pathway. While predominantly aimed at U-20s, each Union can select up to three U-23 players per matchday squad.

The Six Nations Women’s Summer Series will debut in Parma, Italy next month, with three rounds of matches from July 4 to 14. Briggs’ young side begin their campaign against England on Thursday week (July 4) (kick-off 6.30pm local time/5.30pm Irish time).

The Ireland U-20 Women then play hosts Italy on Tuesday, July 9 (kick-off 10am local time/9am Irish time), before facing Scotland on the final day on Sunday, July 14 (kick-off 10am local time/9am Irish time). All matches will be streamed globally on the Six Nations Rugby Under-20s YouTube channel.

Playmaker Flannery will be eager to excel on the U-20 international stage. She impressed in the colours of UL Bohs at key stages of the season, finishing with 98 points in all.

Her game-breaking ability shone through when the Red Robins ran out 48-38 winners over Railway Union in a thrilling All-Ireland League decider at the Aviva Stadium at the end of April.

It was an occasion the UL ace will never forget, as she recalled: “It was amazing, genuinely. When I think about that day, it brings a smile to my face. Getting to play at the Aviva for the first time ever, like having the crowd there and getting to play.

“It was a goal of ours at the start of the season, we just wanted to win an AIL and going and doing it was just amazing. It brings your confidence along when you can see your capability to go and win that.

“When you come into camp, you have more confidence in yourself and you’re not afraid to express yourself and stuff. It’s definitely helped with my confidence. It happened so recently, I can carry it into this.”