Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New-look Leinster prepare for Women’s Inter-pros

With the Women’s AIL taking a break, Sarah Lennon turns her attention to the Interpros this week…

Women's Rugby column

There's a break in women's AIL leagues this weekend, giving me an opportunity to look ahead to December and the women's Interpro season. This week I'll be focussing on the Leinster squad and will look at the other teams during future rest weeks.

This season the Leinster women will go into the series in a slightly unusual position, as champions. In December 2010 Leinster went down 21-3 in a snowy Donnybrook to hand Munster their fifth Interpro title in a row, mirroring the success of club side UL Bohemian who make up much of the Munster side. However, the tables and the tide turned last September as Leinster secured their first title since 2005 with a 25-5 win in Cork and a defence of that title will be very much the goal for Niall Neville’s team.

This year’s squad has a fresh look with a new coaching ticket, new training facilities in Westmanstown, new players and a new captain at the helm. The process for selection involves a series of screening days and a final screening and practice match that allows the management team to select a squad.  In total the squad shows 13 changes to last season with a number of new inclusions and following the retirement of a number of players. Old Belvedere have the largest representation with 9 players, the next most represented side is Blackrock and then curiously Limerick side UL Bohs and there are also representatives from Garda, Railway Union, St Marys and Navan. The squad also sports a new captain with Belvo's Mary Louise (Maz) Reilly skippering for the season.  

There are quite a lot of changes for Leinster in the backs with 4 of the team that won last season's interpro title not included due to injury, non selection or retirement. One player to watch out for is Amy Davis of Blackrock, often asked to fill in at nine last season, she's a flyer who is far more at home on the wing or in the centre.

A completely new back row will be fielded as none of the women who played against Munster return. But the engine room remains intact with the tight 5 that took the field last September all included including a front row of Fiona Coghlan, Paula Fitzpatrick and Ailis Egan who are all Irish capped.

The final round of AIL rugby takes place on November 18th and provided there are no matches to make up it’s a straight run trough until December 2nd when Leinster travel to Connacht. Following that it is two home games in a row when Leinster play Ulster and then on December 16th, a likely title decider with Munster. That’s shaping up to be a good weekend of Leinster Rugby as the senior men’s team play Clermont Auvergne on the Saturday and Leinster A playing Jersey in the British & Irish Cup on the Sunday.

With both the Women’s Interpro and the British & Irish Cup on Sunday and the usual venues for both being Donnybrook, let’s hope sense prevails and a double header is arranged to maximise the attendance. This woman's match is always of high quality and deserves to be played in front of a large crowd.

Back to AIL business next week where the pick of the matches is between two teams that feature heavily in my report above, Old Belvedere travel to Annacotty to take on UL Bohemian in a mouthwatering top of the table clash. I'll report on that as well as a full roundup from across the Leinster Leagues next week.

LEINSTER WOMEN'S SQUAD 2012:
Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere)
Alana Lowe (Garda)
Amy Davis (Blackrock)
Anne Marie Rooney (St. Mary’s)
Aoife Ryan (Navan)
Carmela Morley (Blackrock)
Carol Murphy (Old Belvedere)
Claire Ryan (Railway Union)
Deirdre O’Brien (U.L. Bohemians)
Elise O’Byrne White (Old Belvedere)
Emer McManamly (Blackrock)
Fiona Coghlan (U.L. Bohemians)
Fionnuala Gleeson (Old Belvedere)
Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere)
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock)
Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere) CAPTAIN
Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere)
Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary’s)
Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s)
Roisin O’Donnell (Old Belvedere)
Ruth McElroy (Old Belvedere)
Sarah-Jane Cody (U.L. Bohemians)
Shannon Houston (Blackrock)
Sharron Lynch (Garda)

Sarah Lennon (@sarahlennon08) is passionate about all things rugby. A Leinster Season Ticket holder since the Donnybrook days, a supporter of the Irish teams home and abroad and can regularly be seen cheering on Junior Rugby at Stillorgan RFC (a labour of love). As well as spectating, she dabbles in playing a bit and is a member of Old Belvedere RFC and fully paid up member of the front row union.

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