Munster V Connacht
Independent Park, 2.30pm
THIS is a crunch tie for Munster as they bid to win their third Interprovincial title on the trot.
The expectant fixture to give them trouble was meant to be Leinster, however Connacht’s victory last weekend over the Blues has set up a must-win tie in Independent Park, which will be followed by Leinster away next weekend.
It’s fairly rare that a Munster side has lost to Connacht, but the momentum will be John-Paul Walsh, the former Connacht Junior and U17 coach, who got his debut game at the helm of the ladies off to a flying start last weekend in Tuam.
His side were the underdogs having lost the three previous seasons to their opponents, but they were out for revenge for this on. Five of the starting line-up made their debuts, including Nichola Fryday who won two Ireland caps last month, while Orla Dixontook started on the wing.
Full-back Mairead Coyne was also a key play in their three-point win (8-5), scoring the decisive try that gave the home side a 5-0 half-time lead. In the opening quarter they kept possession well, before Coyne finished a well-worked try on the wing.
Leinster, who in their defence were missing quite a few of their internationals, came back at in the second-half, and Eimear Corri flew in from halfway for an excellent 54th-minute try. But, Connacht held firm.
The scenes at the final whistle said it all, and Connacht will only be relishing the opportunity now against the reigning champions, Munster.
Walsh’s side have been training since the middle of June despite having a small squad of 25, but that’s seen this group become a tight-knit one, with confidence to boot now ahead of their return to Independent Park.
On the other hand, Wayne Falvey’s players will be eager to get this win which should potentially set them up nicely for a third title on the trot. A long trip north to Belfast last weekend saw them defeat a feisty Ulster side to grind out the win, but what will stand to Munster on Saturday against Connacht will be their experience.
Seven of the eight players who started have test rugby experience. Winger and former Clare camogie player Eimear Considine, who is a member of the Ireland Sevens squad, made her debut for Munster too and she didn’t disappoint against a young Ulster side who are coached by former Irish boss Philip Doyle.
Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Aine Staunton, Nicola Scully, Fiona Reilly, Chloe Pearse and Orlaith Buckley will all be called upon, and as always, captain Siobhan Fleming will lead the way.
December 9, 2016