The women’s Senior Club Competition kicks off this weekend as the Women’s All Ireland League gets under way.

We, as always, will be following the progress of, Ulster’s only representatives, Cooke Women RFC, throughout the season and I’d guess we’ll have a trip or two to Railway Union to see how our Ulster girls, Nikki Caughey and Larissa Muldoon, are getting on there.

Much to the disappointment of the Front Row Union, Grace Davitt, stepped aside from her coaching role at the end of last season. However Cooke Women have been on a recruitment drive over the summer and an all new coaching team of Alasdair McKee (head coach), Andrew Pollock (manager), Joe McTaggart (assistant) and Gillian McAlister (assistant) is now in place. The team will be captained by Beth Cregan, the Front Row Union Senior Player of the Year last season.

It’ll be an interesting season for Cooke, and the rest of the teams for that matter, as we wait to see if the XV’s game is going to get more of the spotlight. With the Ireland Women’s team still in turmoil, after the disappointment of the World Cup, there should be plenty to play for for more than a few players.

The IRFU have mandated that a proportion of matches are to be played on Saturdays this season, as opposed to the traditional Sunday afternoon session, and how these Saturday fixtures fall may be the deciding factor in the league this season as travelling teams will undoubtedly struggle for player availability.

Grace Davitt presents Beth Cregan with the Front Row Union Player of the Season award.

Cooke start off thier season with a Saturday evening match against Old Belvedere at Shaws Bridge, kick off 17:00. it’ll be interesting to see what sort of team Belvo will be able to send up. Certainly Cooke captain Cregan is confident that the Belfast side can steal an early march on the rest of the teams, telling the Front Row Union, “I back the girls to take Belvo, we’ve prepared well.”

The other matches in this round all take place at 13:00 on Sunday.

Galwegians host Railway Union at Crowley Park in what should be the tie of the round with both sides typically playing an attacking game. Expect a win for Union in a high scoring match.

Blackrock make the trip to Cork to play Highfield and the Dublin outfit should come away with the points.

League and Cup Winners UL Bohemians make the comparatively short trip to, AIL debutante’s, Tullamore in what should be a difficult match for the home side.

Full fixture list below.

Women’s AIL Week 1 Fixtures

Sat 16th Sep 17 17:00 Cooke v Old Belvedere Shaws Bridge
Sun 17th Sep 17 13:00 Galwegians v Railway Union RFC Crowley Park
Sun 17th Sep 17 13:00 Highfield v Blackrock Woodleigh Park
Sun 17th Sep 17 13:00 Tullamore v U.L. Bohemian Spollanstown