Leinster U18 Girls overcame Connacht U18 Girls in a riveting game in Energia Park on Sunday afternoon.  

The home side eventually ran out 15-7 winners after a a tremendous tussle in this Interprovincial Series game. The standard of play had to be witnessed to be fully appreciated as these young women demonstrated skill and fearlessness in equal measure.

Connacht started the game strongly, with tight-head prop Roisin Maher scattering tacklers and wing Emily Foley making a burst up the left in the early stages.

Number eight Karla Tierney was strong in the lineout and flanker Ailish Quinn took the ball up with force as Leinster started slowly.

Connacht were quick to look for and find space on the outside in the early stages, with Mila Sotoparra eating up the metres on the right before the ball came left for Foley to round the cover for a stunning try, converted by Eabha Nic Dhonnacha  in the tenth minute.

A big hit and carry by Hannah Wilson pushed Leinster forward as they looked to bounce back.

However, Beibhinn Gleeson almost added to the Connacht tally soon after, cutting through the middle, with full-back Hannah Clarke then inches away from finding Sotparra with a final pass.

Leinster got their first try in the 26th minute, after Koren Dunne’s activity at the breakdown allowed for Abby Moyles to jink inside and find Emma Brogan with a clever pass for a superb score.

The sides went into the break with Connacht holding a narrow 5-7 lead.

Leinster gained the lead for the first time in the 52nd minute, after some excellent play in midfield gave the field position for Dunne to crash over the line for their second try o f the game.

Connacht battled back, going close via Sotoparra, however Brogan put the game beyond the visitors with here second try coming in the 57th minute to close out the scoring.

Atlantic Technological University (ATU) is a partner with Connacht’s age grade squads.

Connacht U18 Girls get their Inter-Provincial Series underway this Saturday against Munster. The game takes place in Corinthians RFC with kick-off at 2pm.

Below is the squad for the game.

Abbie Murray Buccaneers Colaiste Chiarain
Ailish Quinn Ballina RFC St Mary’s Secondary School
Aisling Whyte Corinthians RFC St Brigids College
Beibhinn Gleeson Tuam/Oughterard Scoil Bhríde, Mercy Secondary School
Cavina Maloney Gort RFC St Raphaels
Clara Barrett Ballina RFC St Brendan’s Collage
Cliodhna O’Sullivan Sligo RFC Mercy College
Eabha Nic Dhonncha Corinthians RFC Scoil Chumsitheach Chiaráin
Ella Burns Tuam/Oughterard Dunmore Community School
Ella Greene Ballinasloe RFC Ardscoil Mhuire
Ellen O’Toole Westport RFC Sancta Maria College
Emily Foley Ballina RFC Jesus and Mary Secondary School
Evanna Finn Corinthians RFC Yeats College
Grainne Hahessy Claremorris Colts Mount Saint Micheal
Grainne Moran Ballina RFC Gortnor Abbey
Grainne O’ Rourke Tuam/Oughterard Presentation College
Hannah Clarke Tuam/Oughterard St Pauls
Jemima Adams Verling Creggs RFC Colaiste Mhuire
Karly Tierney Tuam/Oughterard Salerno Secondary School
Laura Hastings Tuam/Oughterard Presentation College
Merisa Kiripati Buccaneers Colaiste Mhuire
Mila Sotoparra Ballina RFC St Josephs
Molly Boote Connemara RFC Clifden Community College
Nadine Fitzmaurice Creggs RFC Glenamaddy Community School
Niamh Corless Claremorris Colts Mount Saint Micheal
Rhona O’Dea Claremorris Colts Mount Saint Micheal,
Roisin Maher Creggs RFC Convent of Mercy
Sarah Mc Cormick Ballina RFC Gortnor Abbey
Sarah Purcell Creggs RFC Colaiste Mhuire


Coaching Ticket
Craig Hansberry Head Coach
Cathal Evans Backs Coach
Luke O’Donnell Skills Coach
Martin Staunton Forwards Coach
Natalie Fox Manager

Creggs Sarah Purcell put in an excellent performance as Connacht u18s scored an 11-try to one victory over North American touring side Celtic Barbarians. 

Outhalf Purcell controlled the game well in blustery but dry Sligo conditions. Tuam-Oughterard combo Beibhinn Gleeson and Laura Hastings each scored twice, and US-bound Giselle Gallagher (Sligo) added three conversions.

Sligo local Eva White opened the ledger from the wing six minutes in, the tourists beaten for numbers wide out left. Stand-in captain Karly Tierney (Tuam-Oughterard) bumped the board over again at 14min for a 10-nil lead before Gleeson’s first three minutes later. Hastings and Purcell both scored for the hosts, before the Barbarians capitalised on a Connacht clearance error and missed tackle in the danger zone to close a 31point deficit right on half-time, the score then 31-5 at the break.

Where the Connacht Under18s did all of their first-half damage into a stiff breeze, a tail-wind at Connacht’s back in the second did not bode well for the visitors and Tierney’s crew piled on six more, with prop Roisín Maher (Creggs) and another U16 flyer Emily Foley (fullback) joining Gleeson, Purcell and Hastings with tries of their own.

Flanker Ailish Quinn made life difficult for the Barbarians on both sides of the ball, carrying strongly throughout, and hooker Nadine Fitzmaurice was busy on attack and defence, distributing well in close quarters to keep the ball alive. Locks Rhona O’Dea and Hastings showed great mobility as fourth and fifth loose forwards putting their hands up for selection come interpro crunchtime in August.

Connacht assistant coach Luke O’Donnell commended the tourists on their athleticism and determination post-match, and stressed that while the Connacht U18 squad was without four of its Irish hopefuls, there was greater cohesion and familiarity among the girls in green than the Barbarians who drew from various spots over Canada and the US.

“We have very high hopes for this Connacht squad,” he said, “so it’s a big ask for a touring side to land in without any matches under their belt and take on the province’s most promising youngsters. That said, there was no shortage of obvious individual talent among the Baa-baas, but we’re very happy to have chalked up a win and seen a few of ours put in good shifts too whom we hadn’t seen much of to date”.


Connacht U18 Training Squad 61 (Eva White, Karly Tierney, Beibhinn Gleeson (2), Laura Hastings (2), Sarah Purcell (3), Roisín Maher, Emily Foley tries; Giselle Gallagher conv (3); beat Celtic Barbarians Tour 2022, 5 (one try). HT: 31-5.

Riding high after his Connacht Awards spoils (Connacht Fans’ Player of the Year) and in advance of his national nod for this summer’s tour of New Zealand, Connacht loose forward Cian Prendergast joined Connacht Academy coach Andrew Browne to put a handful of the province’s most promising Under18s through their paces.

In answering U18 Girls’ manager Natalie Fox’s call, Prendergast and Browne were only too delighted to step in and spearhead a 90-minute skills session for this year’s provisional training squad. Prendergast and Browne joined U18 coaches Craig Hansberry (head coach), Luke O’Donnell (skills) and Cathal Evans (backs) to tweak a few unit-specific finer points ahead of the interprovincial summer programme.

“The response was fantastic from the guys. Cian and Browney leapt at the chance to get involved, and we had commitments from three or four others for sessions later in the summer. I’d say they know only too well what it’s like to start a representative career, so they’ve been here before. Our girls were delighted to rub shoulders with players of their calibre on a Monday evening,” said manager Natalie Fox.

Connacht’s U18 Girls’ interprovincial campaign kicks off at the end of August.

Last Saturday the 28th of March Connacht U18 girls took to the field in Dubarry park for their very first Interprovincial fixture. (more…)


Match Report: Leinster U18 Girls 15 – 7 Connacht U18 Girls

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