The teams have been released for this seasons opening women’s Interprovincial match with Ulster Supremo Derek Suffern opting for youth in a young looking squad selected to play Munster at Irish Independent Park, Cork, on Saturday afternoon.
Youngsters Emma Kearney (Cooke) and Shannon Buller (Queens) have been named in the starting XV with Megan Brodie (Harlequins), Katie Hetherington (Cooke), Kelly McCormill (Cooke), and Lisa Mullen (Virginia) looking to pick up their first senior cap from the bench.
Munster, for their part, are debuting four new caps with Ciara O’Halloran (Shannon) and Grainne Fennelly (Thurles) in the starting line up and Dorothy Wall (Fethard) and Sarah O’Gorman (UL Bohemian) named on the bench.
What to Ulster need to do?
Cork is always a difficult place to travel to and Ulster will need to front up from the start. Last season they gifted Munster a two try lead, before a bit of a comeback, to finish the wrong side of a 20 – 40 scoreline. It was a case of defensive lapses giving Munster control.
Cooke showed the way to beat Munster sides, in the AIL, with a good win against UL Bohs at home last season thanks to a solid defensive display and taking points nearly every time they were in their half, but the wheels came off somewhat with a substantial reversal in Limerick later in the season.
Quite simply, Ulster have to take them on up front and take their chances when they arise. Easy to say, harder to execute, but they do have a chance.
Why this season is important?
It is a very important season for Ulster Women.
For the coaches there has only been a sporadic involvement with the Women’s side due to the lack of fixtures but, with two extra games this season, they have time to mould a team and they have something meaningful to play for right up to the last game.
What I am looking for is an improvement over the five games. A win would be nice, after six years of drought, but more importantly what I’m hoping to see is an improvement in their general match play and that they remain competitive until match five.
The teams have historically drawn heavily on their pre-eminent AIL sides. Munster continue to do this with 18 from their 23 player squad from UL Bohs, but Ulster’s reliance on Cooke players has somewhat lessened with the emergence of Malone last season.
Cooke, with eight players in the Ulster squad, still have the highest representation but Malone are not far behind with six in the squad, though both have five in the starting line up. Interestingly, Old Belvedere are the next highest representation with three players starting, adding that aristocratic touch to the back line.
|Munster Women||Ulster Women|
|Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemian)||15||Ella Durkan (Malone)|
|Laura O’Mahony (UL Bohemian)||14||Fiona Tuite (Old Belvedere)|
|Enya Breen (UL Bohemian||13||Maeve Liston (Cooke)|
|Claire Keohane (Railway Union)||12||Vicky Irwin (Cooke)|
|Eimear Considine (UL Bohemian)||11||Emma Jordan (Malone)|
|Rachel Allen (UL Bohemian)||10||Jemma Jackson (Old Belvedere)|
|Christine Coffey (Thurles)||9||Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere)|
|Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemian)||1||Emma Kearney* (Cooke)|
|Kate Sheehan (UL Bohemian)||2||Neve Jones (Malone)|
|Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemian)||3||Ilse van Staden (Cooke)|
|Clodagh O’Halloran (UL Bohemian)||4||Hannah Beattie (Malone)|
|Ciara O’Halloran* (UL Bohemian)||5||Keelin Brady (Barnhall)|
|Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemian)||6||Lauren Maginnes (Malone)|
|Grainne Fennelly* (Thurles)||7||Beth Cregan (Cooke)|
|Sarah Quin (UL Bohemian)||8||Shannon Buller* (Queens)|
|Edel Murphy (UL Bohemian)||16||Megan Brodie* (Harlequins)|
|Sarah O’Gorman* (UL Bohemian)||17||Stacey Lea Kennedy (City of Derry)|
|Roisin Ormond (Ballincollig RFC)||18||Shannon Heapes (Cooke)|
|Sarah Garrett (UL Bohemian)||19||Chloe McIlwaine (Malone)|
|Dorothy Wall* (Fethard & District),||20||Katie Hetherington* (Cooke)|
|Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemian)||21||Diane Ramsey (Queens)|
|Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemian)||22||Kelly McCormill* (Cooke)|
|Laura Sheehan (UL Bohemian)||23||Lisa Mullen* (Virginia)|
|*Uncapped at this level.|