Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Women’s AIL Div 1 - round 6 preview

It’s Belvo’s title to lose as the Women’s AIL reaches its business end

Belvo ladies

We all remember the Irish women won the Slam last season, right?   Grand.

Amid all the column inches and speculation about the new coaching setup in the men’s ranks it’s a fact worth repeating that Phillip Doyle & co are gearing up for the defence of their crown in the spring.

And also, amid all the palaver about the structure of the men’s competitions, it is also worth noting that when it comes to the girls, although there may not be an equivalent of the Heineken Cup just yet to muck things up, the format of their season shows the boys how it’s done when it comes to making sense.

The season kicks off with the club game and the All-Ireland league, which has two rounds left to play.  Then we have the best players from around the country coming together for the interprovincials, and from here Doyle can get an idea of his best matchday squad for both the Six Nations AND the 2014 World Cup, where he learned this morning that his girls will face New Zealand, USA and Kazakhstan in their pool.

When it comes to the club scene, there’s no doubt who the form side is…Old Belvedere.  In the photo above you see them celebrating their Paul Flood triumph at the end of last season and this time around they have kicked off their AIL campaign with 5 wins out of 5.

And since two of those victories came against both of the teams nearest to them on the table (Highfield and Blackrock, who still must play each other), everything would seem to point to their becoming the first team other than UL Bohemian to win the national title.  They must first overcome St Marys and Tralee over the next two weekends.

[UPDATE - many thanks to @NoraStapleton on twitter for informing us that this season there is a “top four” playoff in the Women’s AIL, all of us here at HoR Manor apologize.  Turns out Highfield, Rock and even champions UL Bohs are still right up there in the mix!  Luckily for you readers, our regular women’s rugby columnist Sarah Lennon will be back soon with all the right info!]

Belvo’s success has been rewarded with as many of 11 of their players being named in Leinster’s interprovincial squad, including lock & Grand Slam hero Mary Louise Reilly who has been installed as captain “Leo Cullen style” ahead of Fiona Coughlan.

All of the league’s games kickoff at 1pm this coming Sunday…check the IRFU site for more details and follow this twitter list for score updates on the day.  JLP

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