There are four Ulster players in the Ireland Women’s 33 player training squad for the 2014 IRB Women’s World Cup, which takes place in Marcoussis, France in August.
As expected Asheligh Baxter, Grace Davitt, Stacey Lea-Kennedy and Larissa Muldoon all made the squad having featured in Ireland’s recent Six Nations campaign. Unfortunately Amy Davis, who also featured strongly in the Six Nations matches, misses out through injury.
The extended squad also sees the return of Niamh Kavanagh from injury and the experienced Tania Rosser gets a call up as a possible replacement for Davis. The other new faces from the Six Nations squad are Mary Healy, Vikki McGinn, Sarah Mimnagh, Ruth O’Reilly and Juliet Short.
Haven’t been following the women’s game as much as I would have liked this season but I am a little disappointed not to see a couple more Ulster faces sniffing round the squad. However with this tournament expected to be a bit of a watershed for Irish Women’s Rugby in terms of playing and coaching personnel maybe changes are best kept to a minimum!
Ireland who finished 7th last time out are expected to make a substantial improvement in the final placing this time round. A top four finish would have been a distinct possibility if they hadn’t been placed in the same group as New Zealand and while there is an outside chance that they might end up as highest placed runner up it is more likely that they will feature in the 5th – 8th place play-offs alongside Canada, Spain and Wales where they would be confident of a 5th place finish.
Ireland Women kick off the tournament against the USA on Friday. August 1, next up is New Zealand on Tuesday, August 5 with their final pool game against Kazakhstan on Saturday, August 9.
Semi Finals take place on August 13th and Finals Day is Sunday 17th August.
Head coach Philip Doyle commented:
Over the coming months we will host a number of training camps in preparation for the World Cup.
We played some pretty good rugby during the Six Nations but we will need to find another level if we are to compete with the world’s best sides.Philip Doyle, Ireland Women Head Coach
IRELAND WOMEN: Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Gill Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile), Hannah Casey (Saracens/Exile), Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster), Kerrie-Ann Craddock (Saracens/Exile), Grace Davitt (Cooke/Ulster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Orla Fitzsimmons (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee/Munster), Laura Guest (Highfield/Munster), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster), Mary Healy (Galwegians/Connacht), Ashling Hutchings (UL Bohemians/Munster), Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians/Munster), Stacey-Lea Kennedy (Cooke/Ulster), Sharon Lynch (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Vikki McGinn (Blackrock/Leinster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/UCC/Connacht), Sarah Mimnagh (Richmond/Exile), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Larissa Muldoon (Bristol/Exile), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster), Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Leinster), Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Exile), Juliet Short (Newcastle/Exile), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster)