Dominant UL Bohs seek title number 14 against first-timers Railway

Munster back row Jack O’Donoghue helped the Limerick club while he was out injured.

THAT UL BOHEMIANS are going for their 14th title in the Women’s All-Ireland League final tomorrow in Donnybrook says it all about the Limerick club’s ability to sustain success at the top end of the club game.

Their opposition this time around is Railway Union, the Dublin club set for their first-ever final after overcoming Old Belvedere in the semi-finals two weekends ago.

Bohemians players celebrate UL Bohs are looking for their third title in a row tomorrow. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Ireland Women captain Ciara Griffin won’t be able to line out with her UL Bohs team-mates after recently undergoing a shoulder procedure, but she is excited about the opportunity for women’s club rugby to showcase its qualities.

“My big thing is that it’s on in Donnybrook, 3 o’clock on a Saturday,” says Griffin, who has been appointed to Rugby Players Ireland’s executive board.

“I’d hope to see a lot of people at it supporting. You’d love to see a lot of young girls going out to watch that match to see what it’s like in an AIL final, then getting the chance to chat to the players after.”

Griffin – who faces another 11 weeks out of action after her shoulder surgery but expects to be fully fit by the time the inter-pros roll around in September – says Railway pose a threat as Bohs look for their third consecutive AIL title. 

Having been beaten by Belvo in the semi-finals for the past two seasons, John Cronin’s team impressed in their 29-7 win over the same opposition earlier this month, scoring tries through Katie O’Dwyer, Molly Scuffil-McCabe, Meg Kendal, Emma Murphy and Linsday Peat – who lined out at number eight rather than in the front row.

“Railway are an emerging force and they have a lot of commitment from the club that way,” says Griffin. 

“They’ve been around a good few years now and always knocking on the door. There’s a serious amount of talent there.”

Meg Kendal celebrates scoring a try with team mates Railway Union beat Belvo in the semi-finals. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Railway won the All-Ireland Plate back in March, but the fact that Bohs are All-Ireland Cup champions and also topped the regular season AIL table underlines their enduring ability as they target title number 14.

Griffin says head coach Ben Martin is doing “great work” in charge of the team, while Munster and Ireland back row Jack O’Donoghue served as an assistant coach during his time on the sidelines with a long-term knee injury.

“Jack added something new,” says Griffin. “He’s very enthusiastic about it and it was great to see him down. It’s great to see a Munster player like that getting involved with the women’s team.

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“He brings an aspect that he’s playing currently and he knows what the scene is, different things he can teach you. He helped me a bit with my jumping and stuff, those types of things that you try to practice yourself.

“He knows that X, Y and Z can help you. It’s great to get that viewpoint, especially from an Ireland back rower.”

But the real key to yet another strong season for Bohs has been the squad of players led by captain Fiona Hayes.

Bohemians players celebrate Can Bohs defend their title tomorrow in Donnybrook? Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Griffin hasn’t been able to feature as often as she would have liked due to international commitments and a couple of injury niggles, but she says this Bohs team has been continuing to work as hard as ever for each other.

Importantly, emerging players like centre Enya Breen have been able to learn from more experienced stars like Hayes and out-half Niamh Briggs.

“There’s a good group of players, a lot of experience but some new players coming up too, which is brilliant,” says Griffin. “They’re learning from each other.

“It’s nearly like a mentorship and it’s so important to have that. Some of those young girls coming through are cementing their places and they have a bright future ahead.”

Gavan Casey and Murray Kinsella are joined by Andy Dunne to get stuck into last weekend’s Champions Cup semi-finals.:

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