Connacht Rugby’s 2012 All-Ireland Cup Champions Galwegians fell 26-nil to Cork’s Highfield last weekend, the team they beat to clinch their cup silverware.

It leaves the Galwegians Women standing at one from three to date this winter, handsome winners over Belfast club Cooke (67-nil) in week one, but bruised and battered 38-5 against perennial league titleholders UL Bohemians in round two.

A clutch of retirements following the landmark final, and half a dozen early season injuries have denied Galwegians a chance to test its FirstXV against the country’s best. Despite having to rebuild however, a solid core remains all with fond memories of a Paul Flood Leinster Cup (2011) title and the All-Ireland Cup last winter.

Galwegians is once again well-represented in Connacht’s greater training squad for the pre-Christmas interpro campaign. Most promisingly, several Connacht-based non-Galwegians also feature. The re-jigged Connacht Womens League pits last year’s Development League champions Sligo and Development Cup winners Buccaneers against squads from Carrick-on-Shannon, NUIG and Tuam. Sligo and NUIG both feature in the training squad ranks which has given coach Dave O’Brien’s interpro squad a greater Connacht identity this year rather than pulling from the other provinces.

Connacht fell away from Munster in the first round last year despite staying within a single score for 70minutes, limited Leinster to 10-nil in week two, and pushed Ulster to the finishing line in the competition’s final round in Ballymena. 

While it was a none-from-three ledger last autumn, the gap appeared infinitely closer than previous years and both O’Brien and co-coach Emer O’Dowd will be pushing for two victories, if not three, this time around.

With the Connacht Womens League no longer running according to “cotton-wool” development status, the rugby calibre is improving in womens ranks in the province and the emergence of last winter’s Under16 and Under18 tournaments bodes well for the immediate future. Westport, Ballina, Dunmore and Connemara all reaped benefits from branch and club initiatives behind-the-scenes and hope to attract similar support and player patronage from more Connacht clubs this season.

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