There are seven new faces in the Ulster Women’s squad to face Munster this weekend. Ilse Van Staden, Fiona O’Brien, Colette Broome and Jemma Jackson will all be making their début for the Province as will Hanna Kilgore, Dani Boyd and Aoife Walsh should they get a start off the bench.
The squad also sees the return of Amy Davis, after a successful period with Leinster, and a recall for Noreen Nethercott after some time away. Unfortunately Ashleigh Baxter hasn’t been able to shake off a hamstring injury and will have to sit this one out.
I’m not sure how this one is going to go. Munster’s pack features four Irish Internationals in Gill Bourke, Heather O’Brien, Siobain Fleming and Joy Neville and the back line features the hard running Niamh Kavanagh and the wonderfully, wonderfully, talented Niamh Briggs adding bags of experience.
Ulster, on the other hand, have a new look front row with Ilse van Staden and Fiona O’Brien joining the experienced Kennedy for the first time and there is no second row experience at all at this level. How the new and inexperienced front five cope is going to decide the outcome of this game.
If Ulster can get a degree of parity up front then I can see their very exciting back line breaking loose and Ulster edging the game. If Munster dominate the close quarter encounters then it’ll be a long day for Ulster’s back 3 with Briggs, Kavanagh and Ashling Hutchins running at them.
It’s a big ask for Kennedy to get the front five in shape, especially against such quality opposition, but there could be no more driven player on the field and I expect the Derry girl will be able to pull them together and Ulster will record their first win over Munster for quite some time.
Ulster: Ilse Van Staden, Stacey Lea Kennedy (C), Fiona O’Brien, Sorcha Chipperfield, Colette Broome, Shirelle Wilson, Gemma McCutcheon, Nikita Armstrong, Imogen Porter, Grace Davitt, Zoe Templeton, Claire McLaughlin, Nikki Caughey, Jemma Jackson, Amy Davis. Replacements: Lizzie Ballentine, Laura Feely, Hanna Kilgore, Kelly Holmes, Noreen Nethercott, Dani Boyd, Aoife Walsh
Munster: Fiona Hayes, Chris Fanning, Gillian Bourke, Heather O’ Brien (C), Orlaith Buckley, Anna Caplice, Siobhan Fleming, Joy Neville, Louise Costello, Nicole Fitzgerald, Niamh Kavanagh, Laura O’Mahony, Niamh Briggs, Ashling Hutchins, Claire Keohane. Replacements: Leah Barbour, Kathryn Buggy, Karen Casey, Ciara Griffin, Clara Bracken, Nicola Scully, Riona Kennedy.
The match takes place on Sunday 2nd December with Ulster hosting Munster at the Queen’s Arena, The Dub (admission free), before the team goes on the road to face Leinster and Connacht on successive Saturdays.
Ulster Women Interprovincal Fixtures.
|Sun 2nd Dec||1.00pm||Ulster||v||Munster||Queen’s Arena|
|Sat 8th Dec||1:30pm||Leinster||v||Ulster||Ashbourne RFC|
|Sat 15th Dec||2:30pm||Connacht||v||Ulster||Sportsground|