Emerging Ireland Squad Departs For Bloemfontein

The Emerging Ireland squad have completed a three day camp in the IRFU High Performance Centre in Dublin and will depart this evening for Bloemfontein ahead of their participation in the Toyota Challenge.

Ciarán Frawley has been ruled out with a shoulder injury picked up playing for Leinster against Benetton on Friday night. Connacht’s Cathal Forde has been with the squad since Friday and will now travel to South Africa. Forde represented Ireland U20s in 2021 and made his Connacht debut against Glasgow in the URC last season.

Caolin Blade picked up an injury playing for Connacht against the Stormers yesterday and has been ruled out of the Tour.  Leinster’s Ben Murphy, who was a member of the 2020 U20s Six Nations squad, has joined the group travelling to South Africa.

Unfortunately, Munster’s Alex Kendellen and Leinster’s Alex Soroka have also both been ruled out of travelling to Bloemfontein. Kendellen will complete his return to play process while Soroka aggravated an existing foot issue.

Ulster’s David McCann joined the squad on Friday. He was a member of the 2019 U20 Six Nations Grand Slam-winning side before captaining the Ireland U20s during the 2020 season.

The squad will depart for South Africa this evening and arrive in Bloemfontein on Tuesday ahead of their first game against the Windhoek Draught Griquas at the Toyota Stadium on Friday (Kick-off 12.45pm Irish time).

It is hoped that all three Emerging Ireland fixtures will be available via a livestream on IrishRugby.ie – details to follow.

Emerging Ireland Squad – Toyota Challenge 2022:

Backs (15)
Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen)
Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution)
Shane Daly (Munster/Cork Constitution)
Nathan Doak (Ulster/Banbridge)
Cathal Forde (Connacht/Corinthians)
Jake Flannery (Ulster/Ballynahinch)
Antoine Frisch (Munster)
Michael McDonald (Ulster)
Ethan McIlroy (Ulster/Ballynahinch)
Stewart Moore (Ulster/Malone)
Chay Mullins (Connacht/IQ Rugby)
Ben Murphy (Leinster/Clontarf)
Calvin Nash (Munster/Young Munster)
Jamie Osbourne (Leinster/Naas)
Andrew Smith (Leinster/Clontarf)

Forwards (19)
Tom Ahern (Munster/Shannon)
Diarmuid Barron (Munster/Garryowen)
Thomas Clarkson (Leinster/Dublin University)
James Culhane (Leinster/UCD)
Max Deegan (Leinster/Lansdowne)
Brian Deeny (Leinster/Clontarf)
John Hodnett (Munster/UCC)
Sam Illo (Connacht/Buccaneers)
Cormac Izuchukwu (Ulster/Ballynahinch)
David McCann (Ulster/Banbridge)
Joe McCarthy (Leinster/Dublin University)
Michael Milne (Leinster/UCD)
Scott Penny (Leinster/UCD)
Cian Prendergast (Connacht)
Callum Reid (Ulster/Banbridge)
Roman Salonoa (Munster/Shannon)
Tom Stewart (Ulster/Ballynahinch)
Dylan Tierney-Martin (Connacht/Corinthians)
Josh Wycherley (Munster/Young Munster)

Emerging Ireland Fixtures – Toyota Challenge 2022:

(All matches at Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein)

  • Friday 30th September: Windhoek Draught Griquas vs Emerging Ireland, 12.45pm Irish time
  • Wednesday 5th October: Airlink Pumas vs Emerging Ireland, 4pm Irish time
  • Sunday 9th October: Toyota Cheetahs vs Emerging Ireland, 2pm Irish time.

Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division: Round 3 Review

Old Belvedere’s young guns were central to their 24-7 Dublin derby win over Suttonians as they moved to the top of the Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division.

Four members of Leinster’s Under-18 Interprovincial title-winning side from last season, Katie Whelan, Éadaoin Murtagh, Aoife Dalton and Dannah O’Brien, all ran in first half tries at Ollie Campbell Park.

Ever-alert scrum half Whelan scampered over from a quick tap after just two-and-a-half minutes, and some neat passing set up a 19th-minute converted try out wide for winger Murtagh on her first start.

A lovely dummying run from O’Brien saw her send Dalton over on the half hour mark. The Carlow teenager, the league’s top points scorer after the first two rounds, closed out the opening half with her first senior try.

Suttonians had some decent spells of pressure, making good yards through Emily McKeown’s speed and the hard carrying of number 8 Shannon Touhey, but Belvedere were clinical when presented with opportunities in the visitors’ 22.

O’Brien showed her footballing skills with a clever chip kick, exposing Sutts in the back-field and she dribbled through twice before dotting down. Her second conversion of the game took her season’s tally to 38 points.

With the bonus point in the bag, Belvedere, who were led superbly well again by Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, were forced back on the defensive during the third quarter.

Suttonians made it count, Mary Healy with a great burst and well-timed offload for Touhey to cross the whitewash. Out-half Órfhlaith Murray added the extras to the left of the posts.

However, there was no repeat of their four-try second half salvo from last week’s draw with Galwegians. Defences were on top for the remainder, with ‘Belvo successfully negotiating replacement Emma Buckley’s sin-bin period.

Meanwhile, Wicklow went very close to upsetting UL Bohemians at home before the former champions edged their way to a 27-24 bonus point victory.

Tries from first-time captain Ella Roberts and Jocelyn Jones (2) had Jason Moreton’s charges leading 17-10, but Bohs showed their experience to avoid a third straight defeat.

Second row Rebecca Reilly touched down twice and Kerry youngster Muirne Wall added the clinching try off the bench. Replacement Lauren Barry barged over late on to give Wicklow a deserved brace of bonus points.

Elsewhere, captain Nicole Fowley notched a try and kicked nine points in Galwegians’ 29-5 dismissal of Cooke. She is now top of the division’s scoring charts with 41 points.

Reigning champions Railway Union did not have it all their own way but ultimately triumphed 79-0 against Ballincollig, with two tries each from Aoife Doyle, Spanish international flanker Carmen Rodera and Ailsa Hughes.

Hughes ran hard off a ruck and fed Claire Boles for an opening fourth-minute try, and Railway ended the first quarter at Park Avenue with a 10-0 lead after Rodera put Doyle away to the right of the posts.

Ballincollig’s defence succeeded in frustrating the hosts, while jinking out-half Kelly Griffin looked sharp with ball in hand and returning lock Denise Redmond was a powerful carrier.

The Cork side were turned over just metres from the Railway line, though, and back near halfway, Rodera seized the initiative with a quick tap and burst of acceleration to run in under the posts.

Christine Coffey converted and also added the extras to three more tries before half-time, the first of them run in by Doyle after Molly Scuffil-McCabe’s initial break and a well-timed inside pass.

Full-back Scuffil-McCabe was rewarded for her trail running, set free by Boles to score from 30 metres out, and hooker Lisa Callan broke in between two defenders to claim try number six and make it 38-0 at the interval.

‘Collig full-back Heather Kennedy hunted down Deirdre Roberts to deny her a try early in the second half, but some crisp passing across the line saw Emerson Allen release blindside Rodera to complete her brace in the 46th minute.

Although Railway suffered a double blow with injuries to Katie O’Dwyer and replacement Nikki Caughey, Stephanie Carroll skilfully fastened onto a Coffey kick to send the supporting Hughes over from inside the visitors’ 22.

Coffey’s conversion saw the Dubliners hit the half-century mark, with Ireland scrum half Hughes duly doubling her tally following Roberts’ quick thinking at a ruck.

A counter ruck saw ‘Collig exposed out wide again in the 63rd minute, Rodera scooping up the ball and feeding winger Ava Ryder for a pacy finish from the visitors’ 10-metre line. Railway’s lead stood at 62 points.

Aoife McDermott provided the assist for replacement Claire Byrne to get on the scoresheet, before good work at the breakdown from replacement Clare Coombes gave Fiona Hayes’ team a chance to build something in attack.

Kennedy showed her speed to break down the right wing, yet Railway captain Niamh Byrne brought her down to deny her a try and their own wingers, Ryder and Carroll, responded by bringing them back downfield.

Roberts outmuscled two tacklers to score, with lock McDermott supplying the final pass once more. Coffey knocked over her seventh conversion to make it 74-0 and Keelin Brady squeezed in a final try, set free by a smashing offload from fellow replacement Grainne O’Loughlin.

ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE WOMEN’S DIVISION – ROUND 3 RESULTS:

Saturday, September 24

GALWEGIANS 29 COOKE 5, Crowley Park
Scorers: Galwegians: Tries: Laoise McGonagle, Niamh O’Grady, Mairéad Coyne, Nicole Fowley; Cons: Nicole Fowley 3; Pen: Nicole Fowley
Cooke: Try: Helen McGhee
HT: Galwegians 14 Cooke 5

GALWEGIANS: Maria Gorham; Sinead O’Brien, Mairéad Coyne, Emma Keane, Laoise McGonagale; Nicole Fowley (capt), Olivia Haverty; Jessica Loftus, Elizabeth McNicholas, Ellen Connolly, Grace Browne Moran, Dearbhla Canty, Niamh O’Grady, Emily Gavin, Lisa-Marie Murphy.

Replacements: Ruby Lynch, Lea Turner, Faith Oviawe, Jordan Hopkins, Mary Healy, Aoife Williams, Mollie Walsh.

COOKE: Dolores Hughes; Teah Maguire, Lucy Thompson, Kelly McCormill, Megan Edwards; Ashleigh Orchard, Hannah Downey; Ilse van Staden, Megan Simpson, Aishling O’Connell (capt), Gemma McCamley, Cara O’Kane, Stacey Sloan, Naomi McCord, Helen McGhee.

Replacements: Sadhbh McGrath, Eimear McQuillan, Fiona McLaughlan, Amanda Morton, Christy Hill, Georgia Boyce, Tamzin Boyce.

WICKLOW 24 UL BOHEMIANS 27, Ashtown Lane
Scorers: Wicklow: Tries: Ella Roberts, Jocelyn Jones 2, Lauren Barry; Cons: Beth Roberts 2
UL Bohemians: Tries: Eilis Cahill, Alana McInerney, Rebecca Reilly 2, Muirne Wall; Con: Kate Flannery
HT: Wicklow 12 UL Bohemians 10

WICKLOW: Ella Roberts (capt); Aoibhin Stone, Vicky Elmes Kinlan, Sarah Gleeson, Jocelyn Jones; Beth Roberts, Roisin Stone; Caoimhe Molloy, Maya McDevitt, Linda Dempsey, Caitlin Griffey, Rachel Griffey, Nicola Schmidt, Jessica Schmidt, Emma Curran.

Replacements: Eimear Douglas, Lauren Barry, Orla Molloy, Leah Murphy, Saoirse O’Reilly, Naoise O’Reilly, Jennifer Madden.

UL BOHEMIANS: Aoife Corey; Aoibhe O’Flynn, Alana McInerney, Brianna Heylmann, Laura O’Mahony; Kate Flannery, Abbie Salter-Townsend; Geena Behan, Kate Sheehan, Eilis Cahill, Claire Bennett, Rebecca Reilly, Clodagh O’Halloran, Lily Brady, Chloe Pearse (capt).

Replacements: Ciara O’Dwyer, Leah Sweeney, Fiona Reidy, Sarah Garrett, Ciara Farrell, Muirne Wall, Aoibhinn O’Loughlin.

OLD BELVEDERE 24 SUTTONIANS 7, Ollie Campbell Park
Scorers: Old Belvedere: Tries: Katie Whelan, Éadaoin Murtagh, Aoife Dalton, Dannah O’Brien; Cons: Dannah O’Brien 2
Suttonians: Try: Shannon Touhey; Con: Órfhlaith Murray
HT: Old Belvedere 24 Suttonians 0

OLD BELVEDERE: Aine Donnelly; Elise O’Byrne-White, Aoife Dalton, Jenny Murphy, Éadaoin Murtagh; Dannah O’Brien, Katie Whelan; Melissa Hayden, Rachel Murphy, Aine Rutley, Clodagh Dunne, Elaine Anthony, Fiona Tuite, Niamh O’Dowd, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (capt).

Replacements: Jennie Finlay, Emma Buckley, Hannah Wilson, Rachel Winters, Laura Canty, Jemma Farrell, Minonna Nunstedt.

SUTTONIANS: Sophie Gibney; Molly Fitzgerald, Annie Buntine, Catherine Martin (capt), Emily McKeown; Órfhlaith Murray, Lena Kibler; Grainne Tummon, Julia O’Connor, Mary Healy, Brenda Barr, Roisin O’Driscoll, Ciara Spencer, Louise Catinot, Shannon Touhey.

Replacements: Aoife Brennan, Ailish Carroll, Janita Kareta, Nicola Bolger, Jools Aungier, Soneva Scott.

RAILWAY UNION 79 BALLINCOLLIG 0, Park Avenue
Scorers: Railway Union: Tries: Claire Boles, Aoife Doyle 2, Carmen Rodera 2, Molly Scuffil-McCabe, Lisa Callan, Ailsa Hughes 2, Ava Ryder, Claire Byrne, Deirdre Roberts, Keelin Brady; Cons: Christine Coffey 7
Ballincollig: –
HT: Railway Union 38 Ballincollig 0

RAILWAY UNION: Molly Scuffil-McCabe; Aoife Doyle, Niamh Byrne, Deirdre Roberts, Ava Ryder; Christine Coffey, Ailsa Hughes; Lindsay Peat, Lisa Callan, Katie O’Dwyer, Emerson Allen, Aoife McDermott, Carmen Rodera, Kate McCarthy, Claire Boles.

Replacements: Chloe Blackmore, Grainne O’Loughlin, Claire Byrne, Keelin Brady, Molly Boyne, Stephanie Carroll, Nikki Caughey.

BALLINCOLLIG: Heather Kennedy; Michelle O’Driscoll, Christine Arthurs, Meaghan Kenny, Kira Fitzgerald; Kelly Griffin, Mona Fehily; Roisin Ormond, Clodagh Walsh (capt), Aoife Flynn, Gillian Coombes, Denise Redmond, Caolainn Healy, Katelyn Fleming, Tiare Siguenza.

Replacements: Tamsin Richards, Orla Rea, Clare Coombes, Sarah Cronin, Aoife Buckley, Michelle Stafford, Sinéad O’Reilly.

Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division Results/Fixtures

Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division Table

Fowley And McGonagle Pointing The Way For Galwegians

After the opening three rounds there are four unbeaten teams left in the Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division, with Galwegians duo Nicole Fowley and Laoise McGonagle in impressive scoring form.

‘Wegians sit second in the table following two wins and a draw. Their latest victory – 29-5 at home to Cooke – saw captain Fowley score 14 points to move to the top of the division’s scoring charts.

In-form winger McGonagle, fresh from a successful summer of training with the Connacht squad, is the league’s leading try scorer having picked up her fifth score of the season on Saturday.

Ireland new caps Aoife Dalton and Dannah O’Brien grabbed their first AIL tries for Old Belvedere against Suttonians. Teenage out-half O’Brien has tallied up 38 points in three games.

ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE WOMEN’S DIVISION – TOP SCORERS AFTER ROUND 3:

POINTS –

41 – Nicole Fowley (Galwegians)

38 – Dannah O’Brien (Old Belvedere)

25 – Laoise McGonagle (Galwegians)

20 – Méabh Deely (Blackrock College), Clare Gorman (Old Belvedere)

15 – Michelle Claffey (Blackrock College), Anna Doyle (Blackrock College), Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Old Belvedere), Niamh O’Grady (Galwegians)

14 – Christine Coffey (Railway Union)

13 – Lisa Mullen (Blackrock College)

11 – Beth Roberts (Wicklow)

10 – Claire Bennett (UL Bohemians), Mairéad Coyne (Galwegians), Aoife Doyle (Railway Union), Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union), Jocelyn Jones (Wicklow), Maeve Liston (Blackrock College), Minonna Nunstedt (Old Belvedere), Sarah O’Connell (Galwegians), Deirdre Roberts (Railway Union), Ella Roberts (Wicklow), Carmen Rodera (Railway Union), Emma Tilly (Old Belvedere)

9 –Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Railway Union)

8 – Órfhlaith Murray (Suttonians)

7 – Dolores Hughes (Cooke)

5 – Lauren Barry (Wicklow), Geena Behan (UL Bohemians), Claire Boles (Railway Union), Molly Boyne (Railway Union), Keelin Brady (Railway Union), Annie Buntine (Suttonians), Claire Byrne (Railway Union), Eilis Cahill (UL Bohemians), Lisa Callan (Railway Union), Dearbhla Canty (Galwegians), Ali Coleman (Blackrock College), Ellen Connolly (Galwegians), Gillian Coombes (Ballincollig), Aoife Dalton (Old Belvedere), Ines Delgado (Galwegians), Jemma Farrell (Old Belvedere), Molly Fitzgerald (Suttonians), Emily Gavin (Galwegians), Sophie Gibney (Suttonians), Catherine Martin (Suttonians), Anna McGann (Railway Union), Helen McGhee (Cooke), Alana McInerney (UL Bohemians), Emily McKeown (Suttonians), Éadaoin Murtagh (Old Belvedere), Sinead O’Brien (Galwegians), Elise O’Byrne-White (Old Belvedere), Sarah O’Donovan (Ballincollig), Clodagh O’Halloran (UL Bohemians), Saoirse O’Reilly (Wicklow), Lindsay Peat (Railway Union), Lesley Ring (Old Belvedere), Ava Ryder (Railway Union), Ursula Sammon (Galwegians), Shannon Touhey (Suttonians), Lea Turner (Galwegians), Katie Whelan (Old Belvedere)

2 – Kate Flannery (UL Bohemians)

TRIES –

5 – Laoise McGonagle (Galwegians)

4 – Clare Gorman (Old Belvedere)

3 – Michelle Claffey (Blackrock College), Anna Doyle (Blackrock College), Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Old Belvedere), Niamh O’Grady (Galwegians)

2 – Claire Bennett (UL Bohemians), Mairéad Coyne (Galwegians), Méabh Deely (Blackrock College), Aoife Doyle (Railway Union), Nicole Fowley (Galwegians), Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union), Jocelyn Jones (Wicklow), Maeve Liston (Blackrock College), Minonna Nunstedt (Old Belvedere), Sarah O’Connell (Galwegians), Deirdre Roberts (Railway Union), Ella Roberts (Wicklow), Carmen Rodera (Railway Union), Emma Tilly (Old Belvedere)

1 – Lauren Barry (Wicklow), Geena Behan (UL Bohemians), Claire Boles (Railway Union), Molly Boyne (Railway Union), Keelin Brady (Railway Union), Annie Buntine (Suttonians), Claire Byrne (Railway Union), Eilis Cahill (UL Bohemians), Lisa Callan (Railway Union), Dearbhla Canty (Galwegians), Michelle Claffey (Blackrock College), Ali Coleman (Blackrock College), Ellen Connolly (Galwegians), Gillian Coombes (Ballincollig), Aoife Dalton (Old Belvedere), Ines Delgado (Galwegians), Jemma Farrell (Old Belvedere), Molly Fitzgerald (Suttonians), Emily Gavin (Galwegians), Sophie Gibney (Suttonians), Dolores Hughes (Cooke), Catherine Martin (Suttonians), Anna McGann (Railway Union), Helen McGhee (Cooke), Alana McInerney (UL Bohemians), Emily McKeown (Suttonians), Lisa Mullen (Blackrock College), Éadaoin Murtagh (Old Belvedere), Dannah O’Brien (Old Belvedere), Sinead O’Brien (Galwegians), Elise O’Byrne-White (Old Belvedere), Sarah O’Donovan (Ballincollig), Clodagh O’Halloran (UL Bohemians), Saoirse O’Reilly (Wicklow), Lindsay Peat (Railway Union), Lesley Ring (Old Belvedere), Ava Ryder (Railway Union), Ursula Sammon (Galwegians), Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Railway Union), Shannon Touhey (Suttonians), Lea Turner (Galwegians), Katie Whelan (Old Belvedere)

Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division: Round 3 Results Round-Up

There were bonus point wins for new leaders Old Belvedere, Galwegians and Railway Union, while UL Bohemians won a cracking contest with Wicklow who threatened to upset the former champions.

ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE WOMEN’S DIVISION – ROUND 3:

Saturday, September 24 –

GALWEGIANS 29 COOKE 5, Crowley Park
Scorers: Galwegians: Tries: Laoise McGonagle, Niamh O’Grady, Mairéad Coyne, Nicole Fowley; Cons: Nicole Fowley 3; Pen: Nicole Fowley
Cooke: Try: Helen McGhee
HT: Galwegians 14 Cooke 5

GALWEGIANS: Maria Gorham; Sinead O’Brien, Mairéad Coyne, Emma Keane, Laoise McGonagale; Nicole Fowley (capt), Olivia Haverty; Jessica Loftus, Elizabeth McNicholas, Ellen Connolly, Grace Browne Moran, Dearbhla Canty, Niamh O’Grady, Emily Gavin, Lisa-Marie Murphy.

Replacements: Ruby Lynch, Lea Turner, Faith Oviawe, Jordan Hopkins, Mary Healy, Aoife Williams, Mollie Walsh.

COOKE: Dolores Hughes; Teah Maguire, Lucy Thompson, Kelly McCormill, Megan Edwards; Ashleigh Orchard, Hannah Downey; Ilse van Staden, Megan Simpson, Aishling O’Connell (capt), Gemma McCamley, Cara O’Kane, Stacey Sloan, Naomi McCord, Helen McGhee.

Replacements: Sadhbh McGrath, Eimear McQuillan, Fiona McLaughlan, Amanda Morton, Christy Hill, Georgia Boyce, Tamzin Boyce.

WICKLOW 24 UL BOHEMIANS 27, Ashtown Lane
Scorers: Wicklow: Tries: Ella Roberts, Jocelyn Jones 2, Lauren Barry; Cons: Beth Roberts 2
UL Bohemians: Tries: Eilis Cahill, Alana McInerney, Rebecca Reilly 2, Muirne Wall; Con: Kate Flannery
HT: Wicklow 12 UL Bohemians 10

WICKLOW: Ella Roberts (capt); Aoibhin Stone, Vicky Elmes Kinlan, Sarah Gleeson, Jocelyn Jones; Beth Roberts, Roisin Stone; Caoimhe Molloy, Maya McDevitt, Linda Dempsey, Caitlin Griffey, Rachel Griffey, Nicola Schmidt, Jessica Schmidt, Emma Curran.

Replacements: Eimear Douglas, Lauren Barry, Orla Molloy, Leah Murphy, Saoirse O’Reilly, Naoise O’Reilly, Jennifer Madden.

UL BOHEMIANS: Aoife Corey; Aoibhe O’Flynn, Alana McInerney, Brianna Heylmann, Laura O’Mahony; Kate Flannery, Abbie Salter-Townsend; Geena Behan, Kate Sheehan, Eilis Cahill, Claire Bennett, Rebecca Reilly, Clodagh O’Halloran, Lily Brady, Chloe Pearse (capt).

Replacements: Ciara O’Dwyer, Leah Sweeney, Fiona Reidy, Sarah Garrett, Ciara Farrell, Muirne Wall, Aoibhinn O’Loughlin.

OLD BELVEDERE 24 SUTTONIANS 7, Ollie Campbell Park
Scorers: Old Belvedere: Tries: Katie Whelan, Éadaoin Murtagh, Aoife Dalton, Dannah O’Brien; Cons: Dannah O’Brien 2
Suttonians: Try: Shannon Touhey; Con: Órfhlaith Murray
HT: Old Belvedere 24 Suttonians 0

OLD BELVEDERE: Aine Donnelly; Elise O’Byrne-White, Aoife Dalton, Jenny Murphy, Éadaoin Murtagh; Dannah O’Brien, Katie Whelan; Melissa Hayden, Rachel Murphy, Aine Rutley, Clodagh Dunne, Elaine Anthony, Fiona Tuite, Niamh O’Dowd, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (capt).

Replacements: Jennie Finlay, Emma Buckley, Hannah Wilson, Rachel Winters, Laura Canty, Jemma Farrell, Minonna Nunstedt.

SUTTONIANS: Sophie Gibney; Molly Fitzgerald, Annie Buntine, Catherine Martin (capt), Emily McKeown; Órfhlaith Murray, Lena Kibler; Grainne Tummon, Julia O’Connor, Mary Healy, Brenda Barr, Roisin O’Driscoll, Ciara Spencer, Louise Catinot, Shannon Touhey.

Replacements: Aoife Brennan, Ailish Carroll, Janita Kareta, Nicola Bolger, Jools Aungier, Soneva Scott.

RAILWAY UNION 79 BALLINCOLLIG 0, Park Avenue
Scorers: Railway Union: Tries: Claire Boles, Aoife Doyle 2, Carmen Rodera 2, Molly Scuffil-McCabe, Lisa Callan, Ailsa Hughes 2, Ava Ryder, Claire Byrne, Deirdre Roberts, Keelin Brady; Cons: Christine Coffey 7
Ballincollig: –
HT: Railway Union 38 Ballincollig 0

RAILWAY UNION: Molly Scuffil-McCabe; Aoife Doyle, Niamh Byrne, Deirdre Roberts, Ava Ryder; Christine Coffey, Ailsa Hughes; Lindsay Peat, Lisa Callan, Katie O’Dwyer, Emerson Allen, Aoife McDermott, Carmen Rodera, Kate McCarthy, Claire Boles.

Replacements: Chloe Blackmore, Grainne O’Loughlin, Claire Byrne, Keelin Brady, Molly Boyne, Stephanie Carroll, Nikki Caughey.

BALLINCOLLIG: Heather Kennedy; Michelle O’Driscoll, Christine Arthurs, Meaghan Kenny, Kira Fitzgerald; Kelly Griffin, Mona Fehily; Roisin Ormond, Clodagh Walsh (capt), Aoife Flynn, Gillian Coombes, Denise Redmond, Caolainn Healy, Katelyn Fleming, Tiare Siguenza.

Replacements: Tamsin Richards, Orla Rea, Clare Coombes, Sarah Cronin, Aoife Buckley, Michelle Stafford, Sinéad O’Reilly.

Cooney Tallies Up Thirty Points To Set New Ulster URC Record

Talismanic scrum half John Cooney led the scoring with a stunning 30 points – including nine successful kicks out of ten – in Ulster’s rousing 55-39 United Rugby Championship win over the Scarlets.

On his seasonal debut, Cooney was a class apart, firing over seven conversions and two penalties to add to his brace of tries and three try assists.

He set a new Ulster record for points in a United Rugby Championship match, eclipsing the 28 that David Humphreys scored against Neath 21 years ago. Stephen Jones (32 points for Llanelli in 2002) remains the competition’s best.

The Parc y Scarlets crowd got huge value for money, the Ulstermen outscoring the hosts by seven tries to five as they picked up their first league victory at the venue since December 2012.

After Vaea Fifita’s sin-binning, URC player-of-the-match Cooney landed a 71st-minute penalty and converting Tom O’Toole’s try three minutes later to seal another maximum haul for Dan McFarland’s men.

Captain Alan O’Connor, Martin Moore, Cooney and Marcus Rea all touched down as the province built a 28-15 half-time lead. There were further tries from Billy Burns, Cooney and O’Toole.

It did not take long for Aaron Sexton to make an impact on his first start. Stuart McCloskey sending him flying down the left touchline and weaving infield as the Scarlets were sent scrambling backwards.

Wearing their new alternate kit, Ulster kept up the early pressure and O’Connor expertly twisted out of a tackle to score in the fifth minute and reward a relentless start from his side.

McCloskey had made an early statement by bulldozing past Jonathan Davies, and Kieran Treadwell and Jacob Stockdale also regularly gained ground with ball in hand. Cooney’s opening conversion made it 7-0.

Ulster doubled their lead in the 14th minute, the Scarlets taking through some energy-sapping defensive sets with Luke Marshall tackled short before prop Moore crashed over just to the left of the posts.

However, the possession-starved Scarlets soon hit back with two tries in the space of three minutes. Centre Davies and Ryan Conbeer were the scorers, the latter profiting from Blade Thompson’s swift hands in attack.

The game was suddenly taking on a completely different complexion. A Sam Costelow penalty made it 15-14 to Dwayne Peel’s charges, who were soon pressing for a third quick-fire try.

A terrific turnover near his own line by openside Rea lifted the siege, and Ulster soon made the Scarlets pay for Costelow’s sin-binning for taking out Sexton in the air.

The visitors, who lost their young winger for the remainder, accumulated 14 points approaching the interval. Michael Lowry scampered through a gap and gave Cooney a simple finish behind the posts.

The try scorer converted and he also added the extras to a late bonus point effort. Full-back Lowry’s quick feet unlocked the defence again, and two phases later, Rea picked from a ruck to get his name on the scoresheet.

New Zealand-capped lock Fifita lifted the Scarlets with an intercept try on the resumption, grabbing a Burns pass at the second attempt to charge clear from halfway.

Costelow’s conversion, which closed the gap to 28-22, was quickly followed by a Cooney penalty and Ulster then began to take the opposition through the phases again, worming their way back into try-scoring range.

Rob Herring, Stockdale and Treadwell pierced the defence with their carries and Burns ran hard onto a Cooney pass to get the ball down despite two covering defenders. His half-back partner converted.

It gave Ulster a good deal of breathing space at 38-22, with the sides swapping tries just before the hour mark as this rip-roaring contest continued to ebb one way and then the other.

Scarlets replacement Dafydd Hughes dotted down from a maul, but Cooney responded with a seven-pointer having scrambled over from a ruck. The scoreboard now showed 45-29.

The Scarlets players and the home fans felt aggrieved with the TMO decision that led to that try being awarded. Bottling up that frustration, a determined lineout drive propelled Hughes over in the 62nd minute.

Fellow replacement Rhys Patchell converted and tagged on a penalty with just over 12 minutes remaining, putting the match right back in the melting pot with Ulster protecting a 45-39 lead.

Although Cooney pulled a penalty narrowly wide, Lowry continued to counter superbly when running backs kicks. During a promising Ulster break, Fifita’s deliberate knock-on landed him in the bin.

Cooney was back on target with the subsequent penalty, widening the margin to nine points, and replacement prop O’Toole then managed to wrap up the result with a muscular finish.

Herring won back possession with a turnover penalty, the hooker and Cooney combining off the resulting maul to put Craig Gilroy haring through a gap. O’Toole’s deft pass gave Declan Moore a cut before the young tighthead made it over.

Connacht Fall To Frustrating Defeat In Stellenbosch

A frustrating start to their South Africa tour saw Connacht, who lost Bundee Aki to a second half red card, go down 38-15 to defending champions, the DHL Stormers, in Stellenbosch.

Dylan Tierney-Martin marked only his second start for Connacht with his first try, getting over from a 38th-minute lineout maul to close the gap to 13-8 for half-time.

The Stormers led from Evan Ross’ early try onwards, aided by out-half Manie Libbok’s accuracy with the boot as he kicked eight first half points and and added ten more after the break.

Connacht struggled to get over the gain-line at times, and Aki’s 60th-minute dismissal effectively consigned them to a second successive BKT United Rugby Championship defeat.

Jack Aungier’s late try was only a consolation score as the Stormers pocketed the bonus point thanks to further touchdowns from Andre-Hugo Venter (61 minutes), Hacjivah Dayimani (67) and replacement Marcel Theunissen (80+3).

Some individual brilliance from the highly-rated Roos handed the Stormers an early lead. Dan du Plessis made the initial incision on a looping run past the halfway line.

Connacht’s defence was splintered by Roos’ follow-up charge, which saw him surge in between John Porch and captain Jarrad Butler before bouncing of Mack Hansen’s attempted tackle to score in the left corner.

Libbok swung over the conversion from close to the left touchline, but Connacht were soon off the mark when out-half Fitzgerald punished a Stormers offside to make it 7-3.

Junior Pokomela carried forcefully, with the defending Butler caught on the wrong side after the tackle. Libbok punished him from the tee to restore the seven-point lead.

Butler redeemed himself with a well-won turnover penalty, leading to some improved phase-building from the westerners towards the end of the opening quarter.

Handling errors were proving costly, though, and an Oran McNulty fumble handed the momentum back to the Stormers who then won a scrum penalty in a central position.

Thankfully for Connacht, a high strike from Libbok missed the target, but Marvin Orie charged down an attempted clearance from Caolin Blade to keep Andy Friend’s men pinned back.

Josh Murphy, who had stolen an earlier lineout, was penalised for not rolling away quickly enough in the 25th minute. This time Libbok split the posts to keep the scoreboard moving in their favour.

Connacht found some rhythm from the restart, McNulty and Porch driving them forward with some smart running. The Stormers leaked four penalties, two at maul time and one right on their try-line as Blade was stopped just short.

The South Africans stood firm but handed possession back from an overthrown lineout, and further indiscipline led to lock Orie being sin-binned for going offside at a ruck.

Connacht converted the pressure into points, setting up two more close-in lineouts. 23-year-old hooker Tierney-Martin was able to drive over from the second one, the conversion nudged narrowly wide by Conor Fitzgerald.

The momentum swung back to the Stormers on the restart, Libbok launching another penalty through the uprights before Connacht lost the sniping Blade to a suspected ankle injury.

Murphy and Niall Murray did find some joy in pressurising the hosts’ lineout, only for the newly-introduced Aki to be caught offside from a kick. Libbok claimed the three points on offer for a 19-8 scoreline.

Despite Porch and replacement Kieran Marmion threatening out wide on the left, and then Hansen and Porch doing likewise on the opposite, Connacht’s challenge unravelled after Aki saw red.

The Ireland international appeared to make contact with Seabelo Senatla’s head during a clear-out, play briefly continuing with a David Hawkshaw cross-field kick being claimed by Tom Farrell for a try behind the posts.

Unfortunately for the men in green, the TMO review saw the score chalked off. Aki was found guilty of a dangerous clear-out with referee Gianluca Gnecchi reaching for his red card.

Hooker Venter got on the end of a sparkling attack to reach over in the left corner, with some slick handling by Clayton Blommetjies, Dayimani, Senatla and Paul de Wet in the build-up. Libbok converted from the touchline.

Flanker and URC player-of-the-match Dayimani had a 40-metre run-in in the 67th minute, with Angelo Davids getting the plaudits for the initial turnover. Connacht battled on and deservedly reached double figures.

 

The hard work of the forwards led to Aungier piling over the whitewash in the 70th minute. The try, converted by Hawkshaw, came after a jinking run by Marmion and good ball retention.

The Stormers still had time to squeeze in a try-scoring bonus point. Penalties put them in a good position and a well-driven maul did the job for Theunissen. Libbok completed his 18-point haul with the last kick.

Sheehan Has High Praise For ‘Massive Asset’ Healy

He may have grabbed the headlines on the night with a record-equalling try haul, but Dan Sheehan was quick to praise a team-mate’s individual achievement afterwards.

Sheehan became the eighth player, and first from Leinster, to score four tries in a United Rugby Championship match as Leinster ran out 42-10 bonus point winners over Benetton Rugby.

It was a blistering start to the young hooker’s 2022/23 campaign, and ten other players from Ireland’s summer tour to New Zealand also made their seasonal bows at the RDS.

One of them was prop Cian Healy who, having been sprung from the bench in the second half, became only the third Leinster player to reach 250 caps for the province. Gordon D’Arcy (257) is in his sights.

With the URC player-of-the-match medal around his neck, Sheehan spoke of his admiration for the Clontarf man who made his Leinster debut as a teenager back in 2007.

Praising Healy’s longevity and consistency of performance, he said: “It’s an unbelievable achievement to play 250 times for your province, and 118 times for your country. He’s got a serious number of professional games under his belt.

“He continues to perform week in and week out for us. He’s a massive asset to us and he’s great to have around the building.”

The 34-year-old Healy came on to a standing ovation from the home support, replacing Michael Ala’alatoa for the final 27 minutes as they made it back-to-back bonus point victories over Italian opposition.

Leinster’s collective front row were to the fore as the lineout maul provided the platform for a series of scores, directly for Sheehan’s first half hat-trick and also for a closing effort from scrum half Luke McGrath.

Knowing the strengths of Benetton up front, which were evident during last week’s 33-11 defeat of Glasgow Warriors, Sheehan noted: “We put a big focus all week on our maul, lineout and scrum. We knew Benetton were a good team, we saw them last week against Glasgow doing a job.

“We were all heightened about the mauling and the scrum, so we’re happy with tonight. It was great to be back at the RDS, to kick off the season here.

“I thought there was a great buzz all day. The boys did really well in front of me. Our pack was firing, the backs were playing off the back of that. It was a good night.”

With Ronan Kelleher now back from the shoulder injury that saw him miss Ireland’s summer tour, the battle for the number 2 jerseys at Leinster and Ireland will be a fascinating one as the season progresses.

Hooker is certainly an area of strength for Leo Cullen’s men, and while hailing Sheehan’s try-scoring exploits, the head coach spoke about the intense competition for places in the position.

“I was just saying in the (coaches’) box, I’m not sure I scored four tries in my whole career,” quipped Cullen. “He did it and was taken off with 30 (minutes) to go! Dan, he’s very dynamic in lots of aspects of the game.

“Clearly, the forwards laid a pretty good platform for him on a few of those drives. But, yeah, he’s looked sharp. Even Ronan was good when he came on too, I thought he looked sharp too.

“Those guys are pushing each other on, which is great to see. James Tracy is out injured at the moment, so we’ve a couple of Academy hookers involved in the seniors as well. No, the two lads are driving each other on well.”

Second row Jason Jenkins has started his Leinster career with quite an impact. The powerful South African scored a try last week against Zebre Parma and marked his home debut with some key involvements.

“Particularly in the tight play, in terms of game style the way we would play is probably a little bit different to what Jason is used to, so it’s going to take him a bit of time,” admitted Cullen.

“But, lots of good moments in terms of some of the close exchanges in particular. You can see even the maul as well, the impact that he has there, and it’s such an important facet of the game now.

“Hopefully Jason will kick on and go from strength to strength. Guys have had a decent start, but they’ll be excited about the trip to Belfast (to play Ulster next week).”

Four-Try Sheehan Thrives Off Dominant Leinster Maul

Ireland hooker Dan Sheehan helped himself to four tries as Leinster had little trouble in beating Benetton Rugby 42-10 in the United Rugby Championship at the RDS.

One of a dozen players returning from the New Zealand tour, Sheehan scored a 28-minute hat-trick to give the hosts a 21-3 half-time lead.

Replacement Manfredi Albanese ended Benetton’s wait for a try, but Leinster racked up six in the end as Josh van der Flier, Sheehan and Luke McGrath added further scores.

Sheehan is the eighth player, and first from Leinster, to score four tries in a URC match. The last one to do so was Marcell Coetzee for Ulster against Zebre (November 2020).

The young front rower, who only turned 24 last Saturday, thrived off Leinster’s dominant lineout maul and was rewarded for his accurate throwing and eye for the try-line with a brilliant quartet of tries.

The obvious choice for tonight’s URC player-of-the-match honour, he already has an impressive scoring record in blue, taking his haul to 20 tries in 30 appearances.

The only blip on the night for Leinster was an early head injury for Caelan Doris who was forced off. Ciaran Frawley, who is South Africa-bound with the Emerging Ireland squad, had a shoulder knock.

He was taken off as a precaution early in the second half, while James Ryan’s withdrawal before kick-off was also precautionary. Ross Molony replaced him in the team with Joe McCarthy coming onto the bench.

Joaquin Riera’s break along the left touchline signalled a bright start for Benetton, but Leinster seized a sixth-minute lead when an eager Sheehan was driven over from a well-executed lineout maul.

Benetton winger Mattia Bellini was sin-binned just before that, for a pull-back on Dave Kearney near the visitors’ line, and out-half Frawley converted for a 7-0 lead.

Replacement Henry Time-Stowers lifted the Italians with a turnover penalty, but some aggressive carrying off a lineout preceded Sheehan’s second converted score in the 16th minute.

After Benetton number 10 Giacomo da Re turned a scrum penalty into three points, Samoan Time-Stowers foiled a Leinster maul, only for a subsequent drive to propel Sheehan over for his hat-trick.

Within six minutes of the restart, flanker van der Flier was released for the right corner and replacement Ross Byrne converted.

Leo Cullen’s men were at their most fluent early in the second half. Sheehan carried hard off a maul, spearheading ten pacy phases and quick handling that sapped the energy from Benetton’s defence.

Byrne, who had come on for Frawley at half-back, and Jordan Larmour both drew in defenders before opening the way for van der Flier to score out wide.

Leinster took a familiar route to the whitewash in the 52nd minute, Sheehan charging over from another maul with Byrne’s right boot making it 35-3.

Recent Italy debutant Albanese replied just five minutes later. Ignacio Mendy and Tommaso Menoncello both made good ground before Onisi Ratave’s well-timed pick from a ruck and pass sent the scrum half over.

Leinster captain Garry Ringrose had a try disallowed past the hour mark. It would have been an excellent score, Jimmy O’Brien’s silky break taking them out of their own half but McGrath was just in touch as he offloaded to the supporting centre.

The wily McGrath did manage to have the final say in the 71st minute, using the maul platform to finish smartly with a jink and fend. Byrne converted for a third time.

Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division: Round 3 Previews

The first Dublin derby of the new Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division season is down for decision on Saturday, while an Ella Roberts-captained Wicklow team have home advantage against UL Bohemians.

ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE WOMEN’S DIVISION – ROUND 3:

Saturday, September 24

Kick-off 5pm unless stated –

WICKLOW (7th) v UL BOHEMIANS (6th), Ashtown Lane, 3pm

21-year-old full-back Ella Roberts will captain Wicklow for the first time when they entertain a UL Bohemians side hurting from opening defeats to Old Belvedere and Railway Union.

Roberts, who scored a terrific individual try against Blackrock College during the first round, takes the captaincy reins from player coach Niamh Ni Dhroma who unfortunately misses the game due to illness.

Going one better than the last time, Wicklow will have an amazing six sets of sisters involved in tomorrow’s match with replacements Saoirse and Naoise O’Reilly joining the Roberts, Schmidt, Stone, Molloy and Griffey siblings in the squad.

Head coach Jason Moreton, who welcomes back Ireland Sevens starlet Vicky Elmes Kinlan at outside centre, commented: “We were delighted with the way the team performed against Blackrock. We ran out of steam in the last 20 minutes, ‘Rock brought on some class players off the bench.

“We competed well for 65 minutes before they scored three late tries. We’re happy with the squad and are hoping for a similar performance.”

Meanwhile, talented Tipperary teenager Kate Flannery (pictured below) steps up for her All-Ireland League debut having been selected to start at out-half by UL Bohemians head coach Niamh Briggs.

Flannery was capped by Ireland at Under-18 level earlier this year, in both 15s and Sevens, and is a member of the IRFU Women’s National Talent Squad. Most recently she played for Munster in the U-18 Girls Interprovincial Championship.

Abbie Salter-Townshend partners the 18-year-old Flannery at half-back, with the other Bohs changes seeing Brianna Heylmann, another WNTS player, lining out in midfield, and Eilis Cahill and Lily Brady are both added to the pack.

“We’re hoping to be consistent across these opening three weeks in terms of level of intensity,” said the Red Robins’ team manager Carol O’Sullivan.

“We’ve focused on improving week to week so tomorrow will be a good challenge to see if we’ve achieved that. We’re expecting a huge challenge from Wicklow. They were really competitive against Blackrock.

“It’s a big day for Wicklow who are getting the chance to celebrate their AIL status (with a function afterwards) – that will add to their motivation and the occasion. We’re delighted to be a part of it and looking to embrace the challenge.”

GALWEGIANS (3rd)  v COOKE (8th), Crowley Park

Former Ireland international Mairéad Coyne and Laoise McGonagle, a bright prospect with an athletics background who only took up rugby last year, return to Galwegians’ starting XV as they look to go three games unbeaten.

They admittedly had ‘mixed emotions’ last Saturday after fighting back for a draw at Suttonians having led 24-7 at half-time. A much more rounded performance is the goal when Cooke come calling to Glenina.

‘Wegians head coach Eoghan Maher retains Maria Gorham at full-back, so Coyne slots in at outside centre beside Emma Keane. In a settled Blue Belles pack, second row Grace Browne Moran comes in for her first start of the season.

“We’ve taken a lot of learnings from letting Suttonians back into that game,” said ‘Wegians team manager Lisa Anglim. “We’re looking to finish out this block strong before the week’s break.

“One of our main focus points for this year was our home games and continuing to make Crowley Park a difficult place to travel to. Cooke have long been one of our toughest fixtures.

“We will be looking to match their experienced pack. They play a good offloading game and that has been a focus for us this week in training.”

Former Ireland dual international Ashleigh Orchard features at out-half in the Cooke team to start out west. Vice-captain Hannah Downey partners her at half-back after running the Belfast Half Marathon last week.

Dolores Hughes, their try scorer at Blackrock, Lucy Thompson, Cara O’Kane and Stacey Sloan are also handed starts as Colm Finnegan’s charges look to build momentum heading towards their first run-out at Shaw’s Bridge next Friday.

“It was a very positive second half performance (against Blackrock) and if we can cut out errors, we can continue that improvement this weekend,” said head coach Finnegan.

Gemma McCamley had a number of strong carries last week on her return after a year out injured. Kelly McCormill was strong on both sides of the ball to give us a good platform.

“Our aim is to be more clinical in attack and reduce our error count. Next week will be exciting, our first home match, but most important is this weekend’s performance and taking that next step forward.”

OLD BELVEDERE (2nd) v SUTTONIANS (5th), Ollie Campbell Park

The first Dublin derby of the new season and Jonathan Garth says his Old Belvedere team are in for a ‘stern test’ from Suttonians, last year’s Conference champions, who are chasing a big scalp at Ollie Campbell Park.

The Belvedere back-line includes four members of last season’s U-18 Interprovincial title-winning Leinster squad. One of them, Éadaoin Murtagh, steps up for her first start, replacing the injured Clare Gorman (wrist) on the left wing.

Aoife Dalton pairs up with Jenny Murphy in the centre – incredibly, Dalton was only nine years of age when Murphy won the Grand Slam with Ireland in 2013 – and Katie Whelan, Melissa Hayden and Niamh O’Dowd also return to the starting line-up.

“Very pleased with our win last week, Ballincollig weren’t at their best but our set-piece was much better than the previous week,” explained Garth.

“We were still a little loose in our attack shapes but have worked hard on that in training and hope to see greater accuracy there. Suttonians look a real challenge. We’ll have to be at or near our best to come away with a win.”

Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, who turned 27 yesterday, has been central to Belvedere’s winning start to the campaign. She has impressed in the number 8 role and as captain, while finishing with three tries against Ballincollig.

Garth feels that the Cork woman (pictured above) is playing well enough to get back in the Ireland squad, adding: “Derv has been fantastic for us this season. She is a real leader on the pitch in every aspect.

“She’s very strong, quick and is a natural footballer. I would be very surprised if she is not in the selectors’ thoughts for higher honours as her current form certainly warrants it.”

Meanwhile, Suttonians supremo Stephen Costelloe says these are the games you get ‘extra excited’ for as they look to build on their four-try second half display against Galwegians.

“We were pleased with how we reacted in the second half. We showed when we focus on us and do the simple things well then the opportunities will come,” acknowledged Costelloe, whose new centre pairing of captain Catherine Martin and Australian Annie Buntine already looks a cracking combination.

“‘Belvo are a great side and it will take a big performance to topple them considering they have gone two from two and confidence will be high.

“For us it’s about focusing on our game and controlling the ‘controllables’. We’re looking forward to another great contest.

“100%, it would give us a big boost to beat one of the ‘top four’ sides. I think that goes for anyone. We want to push on from last season and to do that you have to try and beat everyone, but these are the games you get extra excited for.”

RAILWAY UNION (4th) v BALLINCOLLIG (9th), Park Avenue

Squad rotation is in effect for Railway Union this week as they make eight changes to the team that started the 24-5 victory away to UL Bohs. There are a further three alterations to the bench.

Ireland internationals Aoife Doyle and Claire Boles return to club action, there are first AIL starts for American lock Emerson Allen and Spanish international flanker Carmen Rodera, and the versatile Deirdre Roberts switches to inside centre.

It promises to be a bumper occasion at the Sandymount venue as Railway are hosting their President’s Dinner before kick-off. IRFU President John Robinson is the guest of honour, along with the Presidents of the Leinster senior clubs.

Determined to deliver a performance to match the occasion, Railway’s director of rugby John Cronin said: “We trained really well this week. We felt we were a little rusty against Bohs, so we covered a lot of detail on Monday, had a very competitive internal game on Tuesday and had a really sharp session on Thursday to finish out the week.

“We’re expecting a big crowd tomorrow for our first home game of the season, and the players are excited to get out there and show what they can do.”

Laois youngster Leah Tarpey, who made her Ireland debut against Japan last month, is standing by to make her AIL bow off the bench. The 19-year-old (pictured above) has been a WNTS member this year.

It is another very difficult assignment for Ballincollig whose season has been frontloaded with clashes with some of the league’s heavyweight teams. Head coach Fiona Hayes is looking for growth and improvement each week.

“Not an ideal place to be going on the back of two big losses,” said Hayes of the daunting trip to the defending champions. “But the team just need to focus on growing every week and improving.

“Railway are a quality side, and we are looking forward to out first trip up to them. We started well in the Old Belvedere game and we just need to to be able to sustain that tempo and work-rate for the whole game.”

There are five changes in personnel, including the return of Denise Redmond to the second row and Caolainn Healy, a product of Listowel’s underage success, comes in at blindside flanker.

“We welcome a couple of new backs into the starting line-up with Christine Arthurs and Michelle O’Driscoll taking up roles in the centre and on the wing,” added Hayes.

“Hoping to improve again this week in defence and we are excited to be able to play the top team in the league.”

O’Mahony Back To Lead Munster For Trip To Newport

The Munster team has been selected for Sunday’s BKT United Rugby Championship encounter with the Dragons at Rodney Parade on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).

There are eight changes to the side that lost 20-13 to Cardiff last weekend, with four members of the Ireland squad that secured a historic series win over New Zealand featuring in the matchday 23.

Tadhg Beirne and Joey Carbery are on the replacements bench, while Peter O’Mahony returns to captain the province in Newport and Keith Earls makes his seasonal debut on the right wing.

Mike Haley and Simon Zebo compete a potent-looking back-three, and a new midfield combination sees former All Black Malakai Fekitoa move to outside centre to accommodate Dan Goggin.

Lining out with Ben Healy at half-back, Craig Casey comes in for his first appearance of the new campaign, and there is a first start since last February for fit-again prop Dave Kilcoyne.

Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn and Fineen Wycherley complete the tight five, with O’Mahony the lone change to a back row that includes Jack O’Donoghue and Jack O’Sullivan, Munster’s only try scorer from the opening game.

Greencore Munster Rugby Academy lock Edwin Edogbo, who hails from Cobh and only turns 20 in December, is named among the replacements and is set for his competitive debut.

Returning Ireland internationals Beirne and Carbery add experience to the bench, which could be an important factor as Munster chase their ninth victory in as many games against the Dragons. They are unbeaten in this match-up since December 2015.

Speaking this week about his move up the ranks to become Munster’s forwards coach, Andi Kyriacou said: “We’ve got a very good relationship from last year and ‘Wig’ (Graham Rowntree) has given me the freedom to go and do what I want to do, which is great.

“It’s nice to have that trust. We talk a lot, it’s very open and we all want this Munster pack to move on and move forward, get that fear factor about it again.

“Because things are new to the lads, and we are training in a completely different way, there is going to be an adaptation period. It’s on all of us, players and coaches, to try and accelerate that as much as we can.

“It might take a period of time, we don’t know how long that will be, but we just keep going after our performance in training and improving that.

“Then that transfer from the on-field training in the week to the weekend against whoever we are playing. We are prepping well. So, we just keep going after those performances.”

MUNSTER (v Dragons): Mike Haley; Keith Earls, Malakai Fekitoa, Dan Goggin, Simon Zebo; Ben Healy, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Jack O’Sullivan.

Replacements: Scott Buckley, Liam O’Connor, Keynan Knox, Edwin Edogbo, Tadhg Beirne, Paddy Patterson, Joey Carbery, Liam Coombes.

Speedster Sexton Set For First Ulster Start

The Ulster men will be looking to back-up their Interpro victory over Connacht in last weekend’s BKT United Rugby Championship opener as they travel to face Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday (kick-off 1pm).

With the Ireland internationals, involved in the historic series-winning tour of New Zealand over the summer, making a return to the Ulster jersey, the province will be looking to make a statement when they travel to face former Ulster Attack Coach Dwayne Peel’s side in Round 2 of the BKT URC.

The Ulster men will also be wearing the new 2022/23 alternate kit for the first time, which was launched earlier this week.

The Scarlets, who drew against Welsh rival Ospreys in their season opener, will be hoping to avenge the bonus-point win that Ulster secured over them in Belfast when the two teams last faced each other.

On the fixture, Ulster’s new Defence Coach, Jonny Bell, said:

“Scarlets is going to be a different game this week in many ways. They are a team that like to play a bit of rugby and, with Dwayne Peel knowing the Ulster squad inside and out, I have no doubt that he’ll have something up his sleeve.

“We need to be on our mettle against a very good side, and it’s going to be a challenge for us defensively, but that’s what we want.”

Making his return from scoring a match-defining try in the final Test against New Zealand, Rob Herring will take his place in the front row this week alongside Andy Warwick, with 157 Ulster caps to his name, and tighthead prop, Marty Moore, who Head Coach, Dan McFarland, described as “one of the top scrummagers around in Ireland” in last week’s post-match media.

Joining captain, Alan O’Connor, in the engine room is Kieran Treadwell, who will be looking to bring what he’s learnt in the green jersey onto the pitch in this year’s BKT URC season.

Brothers, Matty Rea and Marcus Rea, retain their starting spots in the back row, and will this week play alongside returning, Nick Timoney, who has impressed on an international stage since scoring a try against the USA in his Ireland debut last summer.

Ulster Rugby Academy graduate, Aaron Sexton, will make his first start for the province, as Michael Lowry is in action again at full-back, alongside Jacob Stockdale in the back three.

Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall, who combined so impressively for the first try last weekend, are retained in midfield.

Completing the starting XV for this week are the familiar pairing of John Cooney and Billy Burns at scrum-half and fly-half respectively.

Back-row Sean Reffell, who joined during the summer, is set to earn his first Ulster cap off the bench. Declan Moore, Eric O’Sullivan, Sam Carter and returning Tom O’Toole complete the forward cover, while backs Dave Shanahan, Angus Curtis and Craig Gilroy are also included in the replacements.

ULSTER (v Scarlets): Michael Lowry; Aaron Sexton, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale; Billy Burns, John Cooney; Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Martin Moore, Alan O’Connor (capt), Kieran Treadwell, Matthew Rea, Marcus Rea, Nick Timoney.

Replacements: Declan Moore, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Sam Carter, Sean Reffell, David Shanahan, Angus Curtis, Craig Gilroy.