All-Ireland League Launch: Evan Mintern (Cork Constitution): The Irish Examiner – September 19 2019

Wheels keep turning as Cork Con chase more glory

All-Ireland League

Daire Walsh

They may have secured their sixth All-Ireland League title in May, but versatile forward Evan Mintern insists Cork Constitution’s insatiable desire for silverware hasn’t dimmed in the off-season.

Despite ending the 2018/19 campaign on top of the AIL ladder, the failure to add the Bateman Cup to their trophy cabinet ensures the Leesiders will be out to prove they are the best team in the land.

“We have the Charity Cup, Munster Senior Cup and the League, but we don’t have the Bateman [All-Ireland] Cup. Because we lost in the final of the [Munster] Senior Cup last year, we didn’t qualify. No matter the amount of silverware we have, we still want more,” Mintern said at yesterday’s All-Ireland League launch in Donnybrook.

“Winning the league is perfect, it’s great craic. Technically we were the best club in the country, but we lost a game in the final against Garryowen that didn’t put us in contention for the Bateman Cup. It niggles at you, thinking ‘are we really?’ You really want to nail the point home that you are the best.”

If they are to retain the top-flight crown for the first time in the club’s history, they will have to do so without a host of last season’s squad. Alex McHenry and Shane Daly are also expected to be on Munster duty for the foreseeable future, while the influential Paul Barr has stepped away from his role in the backroom team.

Nonetheless, with director of coaching Brian Hickey and former Munster fly-half Jonny Holland still on board, they are expected to hit the ground running in their league opener against Garryowen on October 5.

“We’ve lost a few players. We’ve lost a seven, an eight, a scrum-half. Then we’ve fellas like Ross O’Neill, a brilliant seven. Dave Hyland, he’s a brilliant back-row. I saw him playing one senior game last year, he was top quality,” Mintern said. “That’s the thing with playing in Con. Everyone is replaceable. The wheels keep turning, you move on.”

Even though he is now an established part of the Temple Hill fabric, Mintern harbours ambitions of making it in the professional game. This will more than likely involve a move abroad, but it is a challenge the CIT student is eager to embrace.

“In the back of my mind, I’m thinking ‘I would like to just go over and see what it’s like’. [I’ll] finish my college degree in nutrition and health science. I’ve a year left. Finish that out, finish the season with Con.

“I love playing with Con. It’s not that I want to get out of there or anything, but I’m 23. Obviously that’s not old but, for pro clubs looking at you, they want to get bang for their buck. You have to be young, so they can get five, six years out of you. I hope by October, November to have sorted the agent. Get the video together and then plough on from there,” Mintern added.

Posted in Senior Club Rugby | Comments Off on All-Ireland League Launch: Evan Mintern (Cork Constitution): The Irish Examiner – September 19 2019

FAI Cup Quarter-Final: Crumlin United V Bohemians – The Irish Times – September 17 2019

Bohemians avoid an FAI Cup upset against Crumlin United

Andre Wright and Andy Lyons on target for Premier Division outfit at Richmond Park

Crumlin United 0 Bohemians 2

Bohemians booked their place in the last four of the FAI Cup with a comfortable victory over Crumlin United at Richmond Park on Monday.

Thanks to goals in each half from Andre Wright and Andy Lyons, Bohs had the measure of the Leinster Senior League outfit. They now progress to face arch rivals Shamrock Rovers in the semi-finals on September 27th as Keith Long’s men seek to bridge an 11-year gap to their most recent success in the competition.

Amongst the Crumlin side, there were four players that previously plied their trades at Bohs.

There was also additional spots in their line-up for Gareth and Liam Brady – brothers to Republic of Ireland international Robbie – the latter of whom provided a potent attacking threat in the early moments.

Nonetheless, it came as little surprise when their Premier Division counterparts opened the scoring on 15 minutes. After the recalled Danny Grant had probed to telling effect on the left flank, Wright was on hand to turn home the teenager winger’s powerful delivery into the area.

This looked set to be the catalyst for a dominant Gypsies performance and Wright headed a Lyons cross agonisingly past the post on the first-quarter mark.

Crumlin had a number of close shaves as the action progressed, but heroic defensive work ensured they were just a single goal adrift at the break. It seemed like only a matter of time until Bohs added to their advantage, however, and it arrived through an unlikely source nine minutes after the restart.

Following another fine burst into the Crumlin half, Grant squared for the raiding Lyons to slot home into the bottom right-hand corner. This was the fullback’s first goal of 2019 and placed them within sight of a second consecutive semi-final appearance.

Despite Liam Brady forcing a fine save out of Bohs’ goalkeeper James Talbot, Crumlin breathed a sigh of relief when Dawson Devoy rattled the crossbar on 70 minutes.

Though Crumlin substitute Gingi Aki subsequently tested Talbot from close range – off a clever Conor Murphy pass – Bohs closed out the game in convincing fashion.

Crumlin United: Quinn; Cummins, Fagan, Mandiangu, G Brady; Hyland, Murphy; Walsh, Donnelly (Burgess, 63 mins), L Brady (Aki, 78 mins); Kelly.

Bohemians: Talbot; Lyons, Cornwall, Finnerty, Pender (Kirk, 69 mins); Allardice, Tierney; Graydon, Devoy, Grant (Wade-Slater, 75 mins); Wright (Swan, 85 mins).

Referee: G Kelly (Cork).

Posted in League Of Ireland | Comments Off on FAI Cup Quarter-Final: Crumlin United V Bohemians – The Irish Times – September 17 2019

Celtic Cup Round Four: Leinster ‘A’ V Ulster ‘A’ – Leinsterrugby.ie – September 14 2019

MATCH REPORT: LEINSTER ‘A’ 55 ULSTER ‘A’ 24

Leinster Rugby ‘A’ moved four points clear at the top of the Celtic Cup table with a commanding 55-24 bonus point victory over their Ulster counterparts at Energia Park.

A hat-trick of tries from Gavin Mullin set the tempo for a dominant display as Ulster Rugby ‘A’, who were previously undefeated this season, struggled to match the pace and power of the defending champions.

The visitors did respond with a spirited surge in the second half which earned them their own try-scoring bonus point, but it was never going to be enough to deny Noel McNamara’s youngsters their fourth successive win of the campaign.

Following last week’s impressive 47-21 win over Munster ‘A’ at Irish Independent Park, table-topping Leinster ‘A’ were aiming for another provincial scalp at their Donnybrook fortress.

Included among the Ulster ‘A’ squad were a number of players who are familiar to McNamara through his work with the national age-grade set-up. There were also spots in their second row for Jack Regan and David O’Connor, both of whom were previously members of the Leinster Academy system.

The visitors looked set to take the lead when out-half Bruce Houston lined up a penalty with just two minutes gone. His effort from the right was firmly struck but it rebounded off the woodwork before falling into the grateful arms of his Leinster ‘A’ counterpart Harry Byrne.

Indeed, despite coming under additional pressure in defence, Leinster ‘A’ duly established territory deep into the visitors’ 22. A series of five-metre scrums offered them sustained momentum, and at the end of a multi-phase move, outside centre Mullin dived underneath the posts for a breakthrough 12th-minute score.

Byrne converted and the fired-up Blues quickly doubled their lead from the restart. Mullin is a son of Ireland great Brendan Mullin and he signposted his enormous potential with a spectacular 14th-minute finish.

After making a strong carry through midfield, he evaded a number of challenges on the right wing to grab his second try in as many minutes. Byrne was on hand to supply the extras again as Leinster ‘A’ surged impressively into a 14-0 lead.

Ulster ‘A’ then lost Graham Curtis to injury with Luke Pollock taking his place in the back-three. He entered the fray during a difficult period for the visitors, who fell further behind during a one-sided second quarter.

Leinster ‘A’ winger Rob Russell chased down his own kick on the right flank and crossed the whitewash with consummate ease. The Celtic Cup holders were already in sight of a fourth consecutive bonus point and it inevitably arrived with 23 minutes on the clock.

Rowan Osborne first made his name as a livewire scrum half at Clongowes Wood College, before making waves in the All-Ireland League with Dublin University. He spotted a gap in the the heart of the Ulster ‘A’ defence and touched down smartly for another converted effort.

Leinster ‘A’ continued to be relentless in their pursuit of scores, and while their approach play was superb throughout, they showcased a powerful set piece for try number five on the half hour mark.

After Byrne kicked to touch on the left, young hooker Dan Sheehan applied the finishing touches at the back of an advancing lineout maul. Sheehan was an early replacement for Ronan Kelleher in their last home game on August 31 – a 50-12 triumph over Scarlets ‘A’.

Eager to stake his claim for a starting berth, an incisive break by the dynamic Sheehan ended with him joining Mullin on a brace of tries. Byrne increased his personal tally with another well-struck conversion, leaving Leinster ‘A’ with an insurmountable 38-0 cushion at the break.

Whereas the sole change for the home team on the resumption was the introduction of Under-20 Grand Slam hero Liam Turner, Ulster ‘A’ made three alterations to their side. Initially, it did little to stem the Leinster ‘A’ tide.

Three minutes into the second period, Osborne picked out tighthead Tom Clarkson for a close range drive over the line. Ulster ‘A’ were beginning to apply serious pressure near the Leinster ‘A’ posts, however, and got their just rewards on 49 minutes.

Captain Marcus Rea was doing his utmost to lead his province’s resistance and the industrious flanker finally opened their account with a hard-earned try. Having missed his first kick at goal, Houston was on target with a straightforward conversion at 45-7.

However, Mullin soon pounced for his third try of the game at the tail end of a sweeping attack. To the credit, Ulster ‘A’ persevered with their challenge, and in a replica of Sheehan’s first score, David McCann notched a maul try just shy of the hour mark.

Indeed, with Osborne consigned to the sin-bin, the visitors’ effective set piece produced another try for McCann in the 65th minute. Leinster ‘A’ managed to keep things tight until Osborne’s return, although an injury to full-back Jack Kelly meant that they finished the match with two scrum halves (Osborne and Patrick Patterson) on the pitch.

The Ulster ‘A’ team’s persistence was rewarded when replacement prop Tommy O’Hagan got over for their bonus point try four minutes from the end. Yet, just as they had managed in their two most recent outings, Leinster ‘A’ signed off with a late try when Patterson nipped over right at the death.

REFEREE: Robert O’Sullivan (IRFU).

MATCH SUMMARY

TRIES: Gavin Mullin 3, Dan Sheehan 2. Rob Russell, Rowan Osborne, Tom Clarkson, Patrick Patterson; CONS: Harry Byrne 5
TRIES: David McCann 2, Marcus Rea, Tommy O’Hagan; CONS: Bruce Houston, Conor Rankin

LINEUPS

Jack Kelly; Rob Russell, Gavin Mullin, Tommy O’Brien, Andrew Smith; Harry Byrne, Rowan Osborne; Michael Milne, Dan Sheehan, Tom Clarkson, Charlie Ryan CAPTAIN, Jack Dunne, Brian Deeny, Ronan Watters, Ronan Foley.

REPLACEMENTS USED: Liam Turner for O’Brien (half-time), Harry Noonan for Milne (44 mins), David Aspil for Foley, Tim Corkery for Byrne (both 57), Patrick Patterson for Kelly (58), Cian Prendergast for Dunne, John McKee for Sheehan (both 65), Charlie Ward for Clarkson (71).

Conor Rankin; Ethan McIlroy, Ross Adair, Hayden Hyde, Graham Curtis; Bruce Houston, Nathan Doak; Andrew Warwick, Adam McBurney, Peter Cooper, Jack Regan, David O’Connor, Azur Allison, Marcus Rea CAPTAIN, David McCann.

REPLACEMENTS USED: Luke Pollock for Curtis (19 mins), Matthew Dalton for Regan, Aaron Hall for Allison, Jonny Stewart for Doak (all half-time), Tommy O’Hagan for Cooper (55), Tom Stewart for McBurney, Paul Mullen for Warwick, Ben Power for Rankin (all 78).

Posted in European Rugby, Interprovincial Rugby | Comments Off on Celtic Cup Round Four: Leinster ‘A’ V Ulster ‘A’ – Leinsterrugby.ie – September 14 2019

Women’s Interprovincial Championship Build-Up Piece: Eimear Considine (Munster) – The Irish Examiner – September 14 2019

Considine hails benefits of integrated season

Women’s Rugby

Daire Walsh

Munster and Ireland star Eimear Considine has given a ringing endorsement to the IRFU’s integrated season plan for women’s rugby.

Spanning a period of 13 months, this process commenced in August with a training camp for the national team and is set to culminate in a series of World Cup qualifiers in September 2020.

Additionally, following the completion of next year’s Six Nations and All-Ireland League campaigns, Considine and her international team-mates will have nine training camps as they aim to seal a place at the 2021 finals in New Zealand.

“It’s time that we moved with the times. Having our scheduled training camps next summer means that the focus is on qualifying for that World Cup. It gives us time to prep for it as a squad, because you are chasing yourself when others are training,” Considine explained.

“Obviously we’re not going to beat France or England any time soon, because they do have the advantage of being with each other a lot of the time. Our AIL isn’t as high as their [English] Premiership.”

There has also been an extension to the Women’s Interprovincial Championship. Whereas there was previously just three games in a round-robin format, knockout rounds were introduced for 2019.

Considine’s Munster face Connacht in a semi-final encounter at Templeville Road later this afternoon (1.30pm).

“Usually at this stage (of the interpros) you’re only really getting going and then it’s the last game. It’s great to have those extra two games, it meant we got to have a lot of squad rotation. It meant girls played in positions they wouldn’t usually play, but at the end of the day we were already through to a semi-final anyway,” Considine said.

“The interpros are the best opportunity that we have to show off the best of what’s in women’s rugby in Ireland.”

Posted in Women's Rugby | Comments Off on Women’s Interprovincial Championship Build-Up Piece: Eimear Considine (Munster) – The Irish Examiner – September 14 2019

Women’s Interprovincial Championship Build-Up Piece: Eimear Considine (Munster) – Irishrugby.ie – September 14 2019

‘Having The Extra Two Games Is Great’ – Considine

By Daire Walsh

Munster and Ireland star Eimear Considine believes the new structure of the IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship will lift playing standards both provincially and nationally.

In a change to the previous format where the team that topped the table after three rounds were crowned as champions, there are two additional games for the provinces in the early stages of the 2019/20 season.

Having finished runners-up to defending champions Leinster in the round-robin phase, Considine and her Munster team-mates will now face Connacht in a semi-final showdown at Templeville Road this afternoon (kick-off 1.30pm).

Should they overcome the westerners’ challenge, they will face the winners of the second semi-final between Leinster and Ulster. As well as the title decider at Energia Park next Saturday (kick-off 7pm), there will be a 3rd-4th place play-off at the same venue on finals day (kick-off 5pm).

It’d be done at this stage usually, the weekend before last would have been our last game usually,” explained Considine. “It’s great. It’s basically like another Six Nations. It’s great to have those extra two games. It meant we got to have a lot of squad rotation.

“It meant girls played in positions they wouldn’t usually play. Obviously we went out to win those games, but it was good that everyone did get a chance to show what they were made off and to put their hands up for selection for a semi-final and a final spot.”

It promises to be a busy afternoon for two of Munster’s senior stars, who will attempt to perform a juggling act at the home of St Mary’s College RFC. In addition to being a key figure amongst the senior side’s replacements, former Ireland international Fiona Hayes is head coach of the province’s U18s.

They will be pitted against familiar foes Leinster in their own Interprovincial semi-final at the same venue (2.45pm), with the Ulster and Connacht youths acting as a curtain-raiser to an exciting festival of rugby.

Hayes has been joined on an all-female coaching tickets for the U18s by Ireland captains past and present. Niamh Briggs (who misses today’s game through injury) is on board as a Technical Skills Coach, while Ciara Griffin is offering her expertise in the strength and conditioning department.

Likewise, the Munster senior backroom team is exclusively female as Helen Brosnan, Maeve D’Arcy, Lorna Barry and Kathryn Fahy provide support to Laura Guest in her second season at the helm.

Rather than viewing it is a radical step, Considine feels this is part of a natural evolution within women’s sport.

“You don’t even realise it until it was pointed out, that it’s an all-female team. That’s the stage we’ve got to in women’s sports, that you don’t even realise that you’ve got a woman manager or that you have a woman as your S&C coach. It’s absolutely normal and it’s great that we have got to that stage.

“The girls, Hayes, Junior [Griffin] and Briggs will probably be stressing after the first game. It’s difficult enough and I don’t think people will appreciate just how difficult it is to be able to change from a coaching role into a playing role and trying to remember your own roles in the job as well.

“You might be losing or winning in your U18s game and you’ve to go and totally clear your head of all that stuff and focus on the game again. It’s hard, but the girls are so lucky to have role models like them coaching. The girls they could be potentially playing with in the next few years as well.”

Since making her debut in a 2017 Six Nations victory over Scotland, Considine established herself as a regular starter in the Ireland 15s squad. Despite taking a year-long sabbatical following the completion of that year’s Rugby World Cup, she returned to the fold ahead of last year’s November internationals and hasn’t looked back since.

She has amassed four tries in her last seven appearances for Ireland, but it has been a frustrating period overall for Adam Griggs’ outfit. They emerged with a solitary triumph in this year’s Six Nations and, thanks to a eighth-place finish at the 2017 World Cup on home soil, they will embark on a European Repechage Tournament in a bid to qualify for the next finals in two years’ time.

The precise date and opposition for those games is yet to be determined, but they have been incorporated into a 13-month integrated season plan that was recently unveiled by the IRFU. This will include a number of summer training camps in advance of those crucial qualification encounters, which is something that Considine heavily endorses.

“It’s time that we moved with the times. Having all these games is great. Having our Novembers in the calendar is a great run-up going into the Six Nations. Having our scheduled training camps next summer means that the focus is on qualifying for that World Cup.

“It gives us time to prep for it as a squad, because you are chasing yourself when others are training. Having those training camps in the lead-up is going to be a really, really good building block to qualify for the World Cup.”

As the only All-Ireland League club in the province, UL Bohemians has a heavy representation in the Munster squad. Nevertheless, players from the likes of Thurles, Ballincollig and Fethard & District have progressed through the ranks in 2019.

This is another step in the right direction for the game down south and even though they continue to plow a lone furrow at the top level, Considine expects new challengers to eventually emerge.

“Obviously as the only AIL club in Munster, it [UL] is going to have a significant amount of players on the Munster squad. But it is great to see those other clubs coming through. We played Thurles in that Munster final this year and that was great to see them. They are building and there are other clubs like that building.

“We do need more than one AIL club in Munster. I’m lucky to play with Bohs and have such a great team, and have so many people around us that are at the level that they can play with Munster. The underage clubs are getting there. There is lots of underage clubs, it’s just having to start somewhere and they started from the bottom up.

“In two, three, four years they will have senior clubs. They will be coming up the ranks in the divisions, putting it up against Bohs at some stage in the future.”

Additionally, the Munster set-up also includes a number of players who are attached to clubs in Dublin. This includes inside centre Ciara Scanlan, who will be lining out on her home turf later today.

Considine is also based in the capital, as a primary school teacher at St Mary’s Holy Faith Convent School in Glasnevin. Despite facing a long trek for training and matches, she won’t be contemplating a switch at either club or provincial grade any time soon.

“There’s about seven or eight of us who drive up and down to Limerick. It makes the journey shorter. It doesn’t make it any easier, but it makes it a little more enjoyable anyway. You don’t mind doing it. You never want to play for any other province if you’re from Munster.

“It’s just that pride in the jersey and you grow up supporting Munster rugby. It’s worth it in the end and hopefully it will be worth it at the end of the interpros,” Considine added.

Posted in Women's Rugby | Comments Off on Women’s Interprovincial Championship Build-Up Piece: Eimear Considine (Munster) – Irishrugby.ie – September 14 2019

Women’s Interprovincial Championship Build-Up Piece: Eimear Considine (Munster) – The42.ie – September 14 2019

‘We do need more than one AIL club in Munster’: Considine hoping to light the way in inter-pro semi-finals

The international fullback captains the southern province against Connacht in Templeville Road today.

THE NEXT FEW months promises to be hectic for Munster and Ireland star Eimear Considine.

Teaching at St Mary’s HFC in Glasnevin, the Clare native expects to resume club and international duty in October and November respectively. Additionally, having worked as an analyst for Irish-language channel TG4 over the past 12 months, she has joined Eir Sport for their coverage of the forthcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan.

She will be joined on the panel of experts by Ireland Sevens international Louise Galvin and Considine is keen to emphasise they are both there on merit.

“Louise and myself have both played at that high level. We’ve both played in a World Cup before. She’s played in a Sevens World Cup as well. I suppose it’s about time that they do have women on board and realise that women are there because they’re good enough to be there. As opposed to just because they’re women,” Considine stresses.

“The thing is, people will be criticising it and analysing your analysis. There’s always people who are going to have different comments and different opinions, whereas they mightn’t have understood my comments as gaeilge! It’s a good challenge.”

Before all of that, there is the pressing matter of this afternoon’s Inter-provincial Championship semi-final clash with Connacht at Templeville Road (kick-off 1.30pm). Whereas the competition operated on a round-robin basis in previous seasons, knock-out rounds have been added to the equation in 2019. This has allowed Laura Guest (who heads up an all-female Munster coaching team) to explore the options within her ranks, leaving them in a good place ahead of their showdown against the westerners.

“Usually at this stage, you’re only really getting going and then it’s the last game. It’s great to have those extra two games, it meant we got to have a lot of squad rotation. It meant girls played in positions they wouldn’t usually play, but at the end of the day we were already through to a semi-final anyway.

“Obviously we went out to win those games, but it was good that everyone did get a chance to show what they were made off and to put their hands up for selection for a semi-final and a final spot.”

Since returning to the fold in November 2018 – following an overseas sabbatical – Considine has become a key figure in Adam Griggs’ Irish set-up. She has recorded four tries in her last seven international appearances and was recently a Women’s 15s Player of the Year nominee at the Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards.

It was a difficult Six Nations campaign for Ireland in the spring, with a second-round triumph over Scotland proving to be their solitary success in the Championship. Nevertheless, the former GAA dual star remains positive about the road ahead – which includes a series of World Cup qualifiers in September 2020.

“When you reflect and take time away from it [Six Nations] and you think about it, it was very disappointing. Scotland, Italy and Wales would definitely have been our three to win and we didn’t hit those targets this year.

“We’ve a lot of pre-season games coming up and we’ve a lot of plans in place for the next year. It will be busy with trying to qualify for that World Cup as well as the Six Nations and trying to better our performance in last year’s Six Nations, for sure.”

For Considine, a strong provincial and club scene in Ireland can ultimately work to the benefit of the national team. Her side – UL Bohemians – are currently the only All-Ireland League outfit in the province, but she sees green shoots in the work being done in the underage ranks.

“We do need more than one AIL club in Munster. I’m lucky to play with Bohs and have such a great team, and have so many people around us that are at the level that they can play with Munster,” Considine said.

“There is lots of underage clubs, it’s just having to start somewhere and they started from the bottom up. In two, three, four years they will have senior clubs and they will be coming up the ranks in the divisions. Putting it up against Bohs at some stage in the future.”

About the author:

Daire Walsh
Posted in Women's Rugby | Comments Off on Women’s Interprovincial Championship Build-Up Piece: Eimear Considine (Munster) – The42.ie – September 14 2019

SSE Airtricity League Premier Division: Bohemians V Waterford FC – The Irish Times – September 14 2019

Holland saves best for last as Waterford see off understrength Bohemians

Bohemians 1 Waterford 2

Tom Holland’s spectacular 84th-minute finish helped Waterford to get the better of an understrength Bohemians at Dalymount Park on Friday night.

The Blues had breathed a sigh of relief during the early exchanges, when Luke Wade-Slater’s close-range strike rattled the crossbar. Luck was not on the side of the Bohs winger and he subsequently suffered additional misfortune in the 12th minute.

After James Talbot saved a powerful Rory Feely header off a Georgie Poynton corner, the hapless Wade-Slater inadvertently bundled the loose ball into his own goal. Bohs controlled possession for the remaining of the opening period, but the woodwork came to their rescue for Walter Figueira’s goal-bound effort on 19 minutes.

Waterford continued to frustrate Bohs on the resumption and the Gypsies eventually looked to the bench for inspiration. Danny Grant entered the fray on 57 minutes and within seconds of his introduction, he provided the creative spark for an instinctive Ross Tierney equaliser.

This looked set to be the catalyst for a final-quarter surge by the hosts, only for Waterford to strike the decisive blow in the contest. Following Michael O’Connor’s elaborate back-heel into the penalty area, midfielder Holland unleashed an unstoppable left-footed shot into the roof of the net.

BOHEMIANS: Talbot; Lyons, Finnerty, Cornwall, Pender; Allardice, Tierney; Graydon (Swan, 84 mins), Devoy, Wade-Slater (Grant, 57 mins); Wright.

WATERFORD: Connor; Feely, Kouougun, Browne (Duggan, 46 mins), Lynch; Holland, Bone; Fitzgerald (O’Connor, 59 mins), Poynton, Elbouzedi (Galvin, 71 mins); Figueira.

Referee: N Doyle (Dublin).

Posted in League Of Ireland | Comments Off on SSE Airtricity League Premier Division: Bohemians V Waterford FC – The Irish Times – September 14 2019

Women’s Interprovincial Championship Build-Up Piece: Michelle Claffey (Leinster) – The Irish Examiner – September 13 2019

Claffey wary of Ulster challenge

Women’s Interprovincials

Daire Walsh

They may be overwhelming favourites to progress to the Women’s Interprovincial Championship decider, but Michelle Claffey insists Leinster will need to be wary of Ulster tomorrow afternoon.

Following the earlier semi-final between Munster and Connacht at Templeville Road, defending champions Leinster take on their northern counterparts in the same venue (kick-off 3.45pm).

The Blues beat Ulster 24-5 in their group-stage clash at City of Armagh RFC, but the Offaly native feels the score wasn’t a true reflection of the game.

“It was a very physical game. It was a very up-front battle. They’re very good at the breakdown. They will turn us over if we’re complacent around that,” said Claffey.

“We need to get our set-piece right. I think that’s one area we’ll need to work on for this coming weekend. I think it’s a very different pack versus our Leinster pack. It’s just the physicality. Technically, we need to be better. We also need to be smarter around the pitch too.

“They [Ulster] only lost their last game by one point against Connacht. It wasn’t a whitewash or anything like that.”

While are a number of familiar names remain, Leinster head coach Ben Armstrong added several uncapped players to his squad in advance of this year’s competition.

Included amongst the new crop are past international stars Elaine Anthony and Larissa Muldoon, who previously featured at this grade with Munster and Ulster respectively.

“We’ve got a load of new girls this year. I think the transition from last year’s squad to this year’s squad, it’s probably about 50-50. The girls that have come in, they’ve played AIL. They’ve played international rugby. Either Sevens and 15s, in some cases,” Claffey explained.

“That’s what we need. Different ideas, different thoughts. We’ve got young players coming through as well, which is nice.”

Meanwhile, it was confirmed yesterday that Claffey and her Ireland team-mates will begin the 2020 Women’s Six Nations at home against Scotland on Sunday, February 2.

They also welcome Wales and Italy to Donnybrook in rounds two and four respectively, with tough away assignments to England and France also awaiting Adam Griggs’ charges in the new year.

Posted in Women's Rugby | Comments Off on Women’s Interprovincial Championship Build-Up Piece: Michelle Claffey (Leinster) – The Irish Examiner – September 13 2019

Women’s Interprovincial Championship Build-Up Piece: Michelle Claffey (Leinster) – Irishrugby.ie – September 13 2019

‘We Need To Bring It To Them Up Front’ – Claffey

By Daire Walsh

They may be overwhelming favourites to progress to the IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship decider, but Michelle Claffey insists that table toppers Leinster will need to be wary of the challenge posed by semi-final opponents Ulster tomorrow.

In a change to the previous round-robin format where the team that topped the table after three rounds of fixtures won the title, two weekends of play-offs have been introduced for this season’s Women’s Interpros.

Following the 1.30pm semi-final showdown between Munster and Connacht at Templeville Road tomorrow afternoon, defending champions Leinster square off with their northern counterparts at the same venue at 3.45pm.

The Ulster Women have struggled to make a lasting impact in recent campaigns and suffered a 24-5 defeat to the holders in their previous meeting in Armagh last month. However, Leinster centre Claffey feels that the final scoreline was not a true reflection of the game.

“Against Ulster the last day, it was a very physical game. It was a very up-front battle. They’re very good at the breakdown. They will turn us over if we’re complacent around that time, but Ulster are obviously building as well,” she acknowledged.

“We need to get our set piece right. I think that’s one area we’ll need to work on for this coming weekend. I think it’s a very different pack versus our Leinster pack. It’s just the physicality. We need to bring it to them up front. Technically, we need to be better. We also need to be smarter around the pitch too.

“They only lost their last game by one point against Connacht (20-19). It wasn’t a whitewash or anything like that. They put it up to Connacht. It was a very close game at the end.”

While Claffey and a host of familiar faces are back in the fold, there has been considerable growth in the Leinster squad over the past twelve months. When head coach Ben Armstrong unveiled his selection for the tournament at the beginning of August, it featured several uncapped players.

Included among the new crop are Ireland-capped duo Elaine Anthony and Larissa Muldoon, who have previous experience in the competition with Munster and Ulster respectively. Additionally, Grace Miller, the younger sister of Grand Slam winner Alison, has linked up with Claffey in midfield while captain Sene Naoupu was deployed at out-half.

Rather than sticking with last year’s tried and trusted line-up, the Offaly native believes it is important to integrate fresh faces into the Leinster Women’s programme and continue to build depth and build for the future.

“We’ve got a load of new girls this year. I think the transition from last year’s squad to this year’s squad, it’s probably about 50-50. The girls that have come in, they’ve played AIL. They’ve played international rugby. Either Sevens and 15s, in some cases.

“They’ve added to the team and that’s what we need. Different ideas, different thoughts. I think it’s really good and we’ve got young players coming through as well, which is nice, and different ranges of clubs as well. It’s been really good.”

Given they were always going to be guaranteed a spot at the semi-final stage – the group standings merely determined the make-up of the last-four – Armstrong and his coaching team were able to rotate the Blues squad during the initial rounds of the Championship.

The extended provincial season has allowed the Australian to explore the options within the camp, which Claffey, the Blackrock captain, hopes can ultimately feed into the international set-up.

“It’s a different mindset, but we knew from the very start it was a different mindset. We can try different combinations, different players, different positions and let people play. That’s the most important thing. There’s no point training all summer and not playing.

“It was quite nice to get people involved, get people playing. Get more caps on, because that’s what we need for progression into Ireland is to play. It’s different, but I think every team has learnt differently from it.”

In recent times, a succession of nail-biting encounters has significantly enhanced the already intense rivalry that exists between Leinster and Munster. After the Blues had been knocked off their perch in 2017, they bounced back to reclaim the Interprovincial crown at Energia Park the following September.

Despite finishing level on points in the final table, a 14-all draw with Munster was enough to give Leinster the 2018 title on scoring difference. The provinces recently met at Irish Independent Park where Armstrong’s charges emerged as 20-13 winners.

Should they come through their respective semi-finals tomorrow at St. Mary’s College RFC, the familiar foes will face off in next week’s final in Donnybrook. Although their clash down in Cork did not hold the same significance as it had in previous years, Claffey made sure to cherish a moment that can be all too rare in modern sport.

“There’s quite a large rivalry. Even that last game, it was probably the most nervous I’d been for any game. I wanted to play well. Sometimes you don’t win that many matches in your playing career! You have to enjoy winning each game. You have to learn from the losses. I celebrated that win, as in I was happy.

“I’m not usually very happy after games are over and we’ve won, but I think it was a really good team effort. I enjoyed that game a lot. I think it’s important as a team to celebrate wins, but we have to get to a final or a 3rd-4th place play-off to play them again. We’ll see what happens there. Like I said, Ulster first. I don’t know what’s going to happen there.”

Posted in Women's Rugby | Comments Off on Women’s Interprovincial Championship Build-Up Piece: Michelle Claffey (Leinster) – Irishrugby.ie – September 13 2019

Women’s Interprovincial Championship Build-Up Piece: Beth Cregan (Ulster) – Irishrugby.ie – September 13 2019

Cregan Relishing Ulster Women’s Rematch With Leinster

By Daire Walsh

Despite their frustrating run of form in the IRFU Women’s Interprovincial ChampionshipBeth Cregan is adamant that Ulster are heading in the right direction under performance coach Derek Suffern.

Working in tandem with head coach Neill Alcorn, Suffern is plotting the downfall of defending champions Leinster in tomorrow’s second semi-final at Templeville Road (kick-off 3.45pm) as the Championship reaches the newly-introduced play-off stages.

Speaking ahead of the last-four showdown in Dublin, Ulster captain Cregan said: “Since Derek Suffern has come in, there has been such a drastic change over the last three years. Even in terms of our training and things, it has just become a lot more professional within the set-up.

“It has even stepped up way more this year and the expectations that has probably been placed on the girls. Previously, we just kinda made the transition from club to province and if you went elsewhere, then you had that step up. Whereas now we definitely have a step up from club to dealing with Interpros.”

Without an Interprovincial victory since 2012, Ulster lost a tight contest to Connacht at Queen’s University most recently, going down 20-19 in the final round of the round-robin phase. Back rower Cregan believes they are getting closer to achieving better results.

“The girls were very unlucky that day. There were a few things we should have controlled that we didn’t control. We went into half-time in the lead. Came out and fell asleep for 10 minutes and Connacht scored 10 points. We should have scored earlier in response and we didn’t.

“Connacht, fair play to them, their defence really stepped up in the second half. We scored – in what we didn’t know was going to be the last play of the game – to bring it to one point. We thought we had time to go back down the pitch for the three points.”

The decision to extend the provincial season – and gather all four provinces together for a festival of rugby on semi-finals day at St. Mary’s College RFC – was taken with a view to increasing the profile of the Women’s game in Ireland. The following Saturday (September 21) will see the senior finals held at Energia Park and the Under-18 deciders at MU Barnhall RFC.

From Cregan’s point of view, the link-up between the senior and underage sides, with a number of double-headers taking place in recent weeks, has been of significant benefit to the game in the north.

“Having the semi-finals and finals played together, and having the U-18s and Women’s matches on the same days has definitely promoted it. We go to our U-18 matches as long as we can, obviously until we’re into warm-up stuff. Then the U-18s will stay after the match to watch us. You’re getting rugby players and rugby fans to watch more of the matches.”

Whereas Galwegians and UL Bohemians are the sole representatives of Connacht and Munster in the Energia Women’s All-Ireland League, Malone’s promotion has ensured that the province of Ulster will have two teams at the top level of Women’s club rugby for the forthcoming 2019/20 campaign.

Cregan has already been operating in the AIL with Belfast outfit Cooke, who finished fifth in the table last season and won the All-Ireland Shield title. The versatile forward regards this as another positive step and also sees great encouragement in the work being done by Virginia and Enniskillen in the youth ranks. 

“There’s now two (Ulster) clubs in the All-Ireland League. Underneath that, there’s around eight teams playing in the Ulster Division One and there’s teams in lower grades. Virginia are very strong. They’ve moved now this year, they’re in Leinster.

“They get more games, because most of our U-18 teams are still being set-up. The likes of Virginia and Enniskillen have been predominantly where U-18s have come from. They’ve got a really good, strong base. It’s just trying to make sure those girls stay in club rugby and even if they can get to play club rugby with a senior team around that area.”

While the future of the Women’s game in Ulster is seemingly in capable hands, it is up to Cregan and her team-mates to control the here and now. They got a taste of what Leinster are made of when the sides faced each other at City of Armagh RFC in the second round last month.

That clash ended in a 24-5 win for the visitors, who eventually pulled away after encountering significant resistance from Suffern’s charges. The loss of Claire McLaughlin to ankle surgery has hampered Ulster’s chances, but the emergence of new international players such as 15s scrum half Kathryn Dane and Lucinda Kinghan, in the Sevens game, is certainly a bonus for the province.

“I know Leinster did haul in all the changes when they came up to play us, but it was a very tight match,” admitted Cregan. “They pulled away in the last-third, but it was nothing that we were scared of. Whenever we went back to the video review and looked back at the match, we said to ourselves if we had any of the teams again we would have been comfortable enough to go back at it.

“There’s nothing they did that we couldn’t have a response to. Our mistakes were small scale errors and not big, collective team system errors. It’s a really good place for us to be in.”

Posted in Women's Rugby | Comments Off on Women’s Interprovincial Championship Build-Up Piece: Beth Cregan (Ulster) – Irishrugby.ie – September 13 2019