The Women’s All Ireland League returns for one week only in February but it looks like being an interesting week with the top four playing each other which also means that the bottom four will also be going head to head.
The top four teams will also face each other in the same fixtures next Saturday, in the semi finals of the All Ireland Cup, and it’s likely that we’ll see the same fixtures again in the end of season play offs!
The fixtures for this weekend are shown below.
|Sat 17th Feb 18||17:00||Old Belvedere||v||Railway Union||Anglesea Road|
|Sun 18th Feb 18||13:00||Blackrock||v||Galwegians||Stradbrook|
|Sun 18th Feb 18||13:00||Highfield||v||Tullamore||Woodleigh Park|
|Sun 18th Feb 18||13:00||U.L. Bohemian||v||Cooke||UL|
The first match of the weekend should also be one of the more interesting clashes as it sees 2nd place Railway Union make the short journey to 3rd placed Old Belvedere. Railway Union were the early season pace setters, playing some attractive rugby, until their confidence took a bit of a battering with two defeats by, top of the table, UL Bohemian.
Belvo, on the other hand stared the season slowly but they appear to be the form team of the New Year with a big win against Bohs in early January in run of 5 matches unbeaten.
A lot will depend on what players are available for Railway, who have lost the most to International squads, but it’s difficult to swap players in and out during the International period and Belvo’s recent continuity should be enough to see them through.
Cooke make the long trip to Limerick for the other top four match which pitches 1st against 4th with UL Bohemian hosting the Belfast outfit on Sunday. Despite featuring in the top four all season Cooke have had a disappointing representation in the International panels with Claire McLaughlin the only regular called into action. However, this should help their league campaign during this period and they should travel with a degree of confidence.
Certainly, if they are going to boost their international representation, this is the sort of game that they need to win. It’s time for talented youngsters like Vicky Irwin, Brittany Hogan and Beth Cregan to make a statement alongside the, always impressive, Ilse van Staden and Eliza Downey.
However, defending champions, Bohs are not top of the table for nothing and, irrespective of what sort of side they will be able to field, they have that fantastic team spirit that gives them continuity from game to game. Only one loss all season says it all. I still think that Bohs will come out on top, but I’m hoping for a close, high scoring, extravaganza, especially as I’m heading down to cover this one and that road out of Dublin is a bit of a bitch till you get past Newbridge at the moment. 😆
I did consider taking a left at Aghaboe to head down the M8 to Cork instead for, what should be, the most meaningful game of the weekend as second from bottom Highfield entertain bottom placed Tullamore in what is likely the unofficial relegation play off this season.
Both teams have more difficult games to come this season and, while Highfield may fancy their chances to get some points away to Blackrock in the next round, Tullamore need to win this one if they are to have any chance of staying up.
The Offaly side couldn’t have a harder finish, with Railway Union and Bohs next in line, and given that both sides put a combined total of 152 points past Tullamore in their first two league games it’s unlikely that they are going to pick up anything after this one.
However, Tullamore have improved considerably since those early encounters and they have every chance against Highfield though the Cork side did win their last home league match. It’s too close to call but I have a sneaking suspicion that Tullamore might just come out on top.
Things are that tight at the bottom of the league that whoever loses between Blackrock and Galwegians are destined to slip into the bottom two. Galwegians have Old Belvedere and Railway Union up next so this looks like their last chance to pick up points and I suspect that they will sease this chance to put their, somewhat flaky, season behind them. However, a draw might be the best result for both sides here! 😈
There have been a couple of catch up games played since we last looked at the league so here’s the current standings.