The Women’s Community Series kicks off this weekend. We had hoped to have had a series of Provincial Conference reviews completed by this stage but a high level of uncertainty and changing restrictions, plus us actually getting pitch side for games earlier than expected, meant that we only got the responses we were looking for from the Leinster teams and a couple of the Ulster sides.
Our plan, at the minute, is to cover what we can. This weekend we are aiming for coverage of games in the Ulster and Munster Conference’s with games from the Leinster conference following over the next 3 weeks. We’ll pick up our Connacht Conference coverage in November.
All our coverage of the Women’s Community Series, together with Fixtures and Results will appear on our Women’s Community Series competition page which we strongly recommend you bookmark if you want to keep up to date with the latest news across the competing clubs.
|Suttonians||17:00||Railway Union||Station Road|
|Wicklow||17:00||Blackrock College||Ashtown Lane|
The Leinster Conference looks like it will be the most competitive league. It features five AIL sides, including newcomers Wicklow, who will find this competition a valuable learning process ahead of the AIL reforming in January.
Suttonians v Railway Union
Suttonians preparations were hampered by the cancellation of their Metro Cup game against Blackrock and they will be at a disadvantage against Railway who already have recorded a big win against Wicklow in the Metro Cup. The Park Avenue side will also have their extensive stable of sevens players available for selection.
The Tribe did pull off one of the best transfer coups of the close season with Denise Redmond joining their ranks but the early season fast paddock and that extra game should see Railway through with something to spare.
Wicklow v Blackrock College
I suspect it will be more about the occasion than the result at Ashtown Lane as Wicklow welcome Blackrock for their opener.
It’s been a long journey for Wicklow to get to this point and it’s a longer journey ahead but they have built exceptionally solid foundations for their women’s game with 200 registered players across the age groups.
Blackrock have recruited exceptionally well and there is bristling confidence coming from the Stradbrook side this season. It may take them a while to get their act together, with new players and a new coaching set up, but they should pull away for a comfortable win in this one.
|Queen’s University||C – C||City of Derry||Dub Lane|
The exceptions for the Ulster Conference were for Cooke and Malone to fight it out for pre-eminence with Queen’s, Derry and Cavan having their own scrap for best of the rest.
Unfortunately due to travel restriction between the North West and Donegal the Derry side are unable to field and their much anticipated scrap against Queen’s has been cancelled and it may be a while before we see them in action.
Malone v Cooke.
The Ulster conference could be decided on day one with the winner of this match the favourites to go on and win the league.
At the minute Cooke look to be clear favourites in that they have been the busiest women’s side during the last month by some stretch. They have also picked up the diamond in under age recruitment with the impressive India Daley joining their ranks as does Toni Macartney, two players very much for the future. The transfer of the highly rated Gemma McCamley from Malone will also give them more options up front.
We haven’t heard much from Malone, but, it would be foolish to underestimate any side coached by Grace Davitt. Their pack will be boosted by the availability of Hannah Beattie but the loss of McCambley and the unavailability of Neve Jones, due to Ireland duties, should push the game in Cooke’s favour.
|UL Bohs||13:00||Shannon LIT||UL 4G|
We have heard very little from our friends down in the Kingdom until today when we got a chat with Fiona Hayes. Unfortunately the Munster Conference got the short end of the stick, as far as our coverage goes, when we found out we were going to get actual matches to cover in September.
It should be an interesting conference, as it features the combined sides Kerry and Shannon LIT, who have been formed from several teams, plus the second AIL newcomer in Ballincollig who have also worked, in effect, a co-operative of several clubs.
It speaks volumes for the women’s set up in Muster, run primarily by ex players, that they have overcome inter-club rivalry for the betterment of their women’s game.
Kerry v Ballincollig
The consolidated Kerry side will feature players from Abbeyfeale, Killarney, Listowel and Tralee and the match will be played at O’Dowd Park, home of Tralee RFC.
It will be an interesting and, I think, a close match as they welcome AIL newcomers Ballincollig for the opening game. Tralee themselves have been very competitive in recent seasons against Malone and Cooke in AlL qualifiers and cup competitions and the players from the other sides will bring their own strengths.
Likewise, Ballincollig have been there or about in recent seasons and they have exciting plans in motion to provide a meaningful pathway for women players in Cork. I don’t know what way this one will go but we hope to get down to cover it on Sunday to find out.
UL Bohemian v Shannon LIT
Shannon LIT, formed by the consolidation of Shannon and the Limerick Institute of Technology draw the short straw this week as they make the short journey to the home of the form team in women’s rugby in Ireland. There couldn’t be a more difficult opening match for a new team.
Bohs will be without an increasing list of international call ups, and are restricted to the number of recent internationals they can play, but it’s never about the individuals at Bohs and their team togetherness and strength in depth, should see them through in their opening match with something to spare.