My goodness, this season has gone in quickly. Only four more rounds left after this weekend so I think it would be fair to say that we are well and truly entering the business end of the season in the Women’s All Ireland League.
The final matches do stretch out a bit with only one round a month in February, March and April, but we’ll try and keep the excitement at fever pitch throughout! 😆 Plus of course we’ll have the odd All Ireland Cup Match thrown in as well.
This weekend’s fixtures are shown below:
|Sat 20th Jan 18||14:00||U.L. Bohemian||v||Railway Union RFC||UL|
|Sat 20th Jan 18||17:00||Cooke||v||Tullamore||Shaws Bridge|
|Sun 21st Jan 18||13:00||Blackrock||v||Old Belvedere||Stradbrook|
|Sun 21st Jan 18||13:00||Highfield||v||Galwegians||Woodleigh Park|
The first match of the weekend, UL Bohemian v Railway Union will go a long way towards deciding who finishes the season at the top of the table. Both teams are nine points clear of the rest of the pack, both have won eight of their nine fixtures to date and both have picked up seven bonus points in the process. Railway go into this fixture marginally ahead by virtue of their better points difference.
The similarities continue with the two sides losing a significant amount of players to the Women’s Six Nations Panel and the Sevens Squad for Sydney. Railway lose 16 players in total and Bohs lose 10. The big question being who will the absences affect the most?
Going on last weeks matches the answer appears to be Bohs, but they were up against an experienced Old Belvedere last weekend, a team stacked full of the recent great and good of Irish Women’s rugby, now playing out the twilight of their careers in the club game.
It’s going to be close, Railway came out on top in the corresponding fixture last season by 5 – 8 and i expect it’ll be something similar this weekend. It’ll be one of our featured matches so keep your eye on our social media over the weekend.
The second Saturday match sees Cooke entertain Tullamore at Shaws Bridge with both teams looking for a win after last weekend’s results. A surprise defeat by Galwegians in Galway has somewhat upset Cooke’s season and they will be keen to get their season back on track.
The Belfast outfit will be missing the highly influential Ilse van Staden and Claire McLaughlin who will be running out for Ireland against Wales in the pre Six Nations friendly but they will be boosted by the availability of Aishling O’Connell and the successful return from injury of Vicky Irwin.
Out friends in Tullamore will also be pretty livid that they let last weeks game against Blackrock slip out of thier hands in the dying moments and if they can recreate their second half performance from that game they might cause Cooke a few problems, however, the Cooke backline should be a significant step up from last week and we expect this one to go with the Cookies.
We’ll be making the trip back down to Blackrock in Stradbrook again this weekend but it will primarily be to have a look at Old Belvedere who might still have a significant say in the outcome of the league. The Dublin aristos will have taken a lot of pleasure in unseating Bohs from top spot last weekend and they will be keen to keep up a good run of form before they tackle Railway in mid February.
Belvo are probably best set to make up ground during the Six Nations and they should be making the short journey back to Anglesea Road with all five points in the bag.
With Tullamore and Blackrock facing top four opposition Highfield and Galwegians both know that a win here will likely steal a march on their bottom four opponents. Galwegians could have the chance of getting up to 5th spot, and relative safety, and Highfield, though likely to still remain in bottom spot, could get level on points with Tullamore.
We are getting into real dogfight territory now. Galwegians will be keen to follow up on their hard fought win against Cooke and Highfield will be keen to put a drubbing by Railway behind them. Both teams will also be missing significant players but I think the call ups will have a bigger impact on Galwegians. Highfield to just edge this one.
The Women’s AIL as it stands is shown below;
|Railway Union RFC||9||8||0||1||433||50||383||7||0||39|