Sligo’s Nicole Fowley has been named in the Irish training panel for the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland this August.
The Drumcliffe native, who plays with Galwegians, is part of the 48-strong squad having made her senior international debut last year.
Three Donegal natives are also in the squad, with newcomer Laura Feely joining the experienced Larissa Muldoon and Nora Stapleton.
The training panel boasts 13 players with previous World Cup experience, including Claire Molloy, Marie Louise Reilly, Niamh Briggs and Nora Stapleton who will be hoping to appear in their third World Cup having featured in England (2010) and France (2014).
46 members of the squad have previous international experience, with 16 of the squad having lined out for Ireland at both 15-a-side rugby and Sevens. Nine players are uncapped at 15s, with six of those uncapped players being current Ireland Sevens internationals.
Players from eleven clubs across the country, along with Exiles Sene Naoupu, Molloy and Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, make up the panel.
The top four teams in the Women’s All-Ireland League are well represented, with Railway Union leading the way with 10 players. This includes Lindsay Peat, sisters Kim and Stacey Flood (pictured above in action at Las Vegas Sevens) as well as teenage out-half Eve Higgins, who will concentrate on completing her Leaving Certificate before turning her full focus to World Cup matters.
There are eight players from Old Belvedere, with the vastly experience quartet of Ailis Egan, Sophie Spence, Jenny Murphy and Alison Miller who, along with Stapleton and Reilly, made up the spine of the Ireland team that made the World Cup semi-final in 2014.
Recently crowned All-Ireland League champions UL Bohemian have six players in the squad, including captain Briggs, flankers Ciara Griffin and Anna Caplice and winger Eimear Considine.
Galwegians also have six representatives – Mairead Coyne, Nicole Fowley, Mary Healy, Ruth O’Reilly and her fellow front rowers Ciara O’Connor and Laura Feely. Hooker Leah Lyons, who started every game in this year’s Six Nations, is one of three Highfield players selected.
Cooke also have three players, one of whom is Ashleigh Baxter who will be hoping to play in her second World Cup. Paula Fitzpatrick, who captained Ireland during the recent Six Nations in the absence of Briggs, is one of three players called up from St. Mary’s, while dual 15s and Sevens internationals Katie Fitzhenry and Jeamie Deacon are the two Blackrock players to make the panel.
Four players from outside the Women’s All-Ireland League also feature, including newly-promoted Tullamore’s Nichola Fryday (pictured above), who was capped during the Six Nations, Ireland Sevens captain Lucy Mulhall of Rathdrum, and Shannon pair Nicole Cronin and Aoife Doyle.
Speaking at the confirmation of the squad, Ireland Women’s head coach Tom Tierney said: “From the November Tests and throughout the Six Nations, we wanted to develop depth in the squad and provide players with the opportunity to put their hand up for selection for the World Cup.
“Finishing in second place in the Six Nations was a positive result for the team and we will look to build on this prior to August and the World Cup.
“The main goal for the coming months is to have our players as best prepared as possible for the World Cup.
It’s a huge opportunity for the players, and for the country, to have an event as big as this one on our door step and we want to give the players every opportunity to perform over the course of the competition.
“The aim now is to make sure the players that have been selected on this panel are all up to speed on how we want to play our game in August, as well as being physically fit for what will be a challenging and demanding tournament.”
IRFU Director of Women’s Rugby Anthony Eddy added: “We have named an experienced panel, encompassing players from a wide cross section of our clubs. It’s an exciting group and includes players who’ve performed for Ireland on the international stage, players we’ve been working closely within the National Women’s Programme, as well as several players who have been rewarded for their performances at provincial and club level over the course of the season.
“As well as the nine internationals we’ve played since November, we will have a series of warm-up games with a view to preparing well for the demands in August.
“Selection in this panel does not guarantee selection in the WRWC squad announced in July. Players from outside the panel will continue to be invited to training days, where the can compete for positions and final selection. We will have the best players from a wide number of our clubs and communities across Ireland.”
The players selected will be involved in both skills and national camps over the coming months, and will play two warm-up games against Japan and a training camp with Spain, in the build-up to Ireland’s opening World Cup match against Australia on Wednesday, August 9.
The final Ireland squad for the Women’s Rugby World Cup will be confirmed in July.
IRELAND WOMEN’S TRAINING Squad (Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017):
Backs (26) –
Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt)
Nikki Caughey (Railway Union/Ulster)
Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Mairead Coyne (Galwegians/Connacht)
Nicole Cronin (Shannon/Munster) *
Aoife Doyle (Shannon/Munster)
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster)
Kim Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster) *
Nicole Fowley (Galwegians/Connacht)
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster) *
Mary Healy (Galwegians/Connacht)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster) *
Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/Leinster)
Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Claire McLaughlin (Cooke/Ulster)
Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht)
Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum) *
Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster) *
Sene Naoupu (Aylesford Bulls)
Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Aylesford Bulls/Munster) *
Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Megan Williams (St. Mary’s) *
Forwards (22) –
Elaine Anthony (Highfield/Munster)
Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster)
Anna Caplice (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster)
Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock/Leinster)
Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Laura Feely (Galwegians/Connacht) *
Jennie Finlay (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster)
Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary’s/Leinster)
Nichola Fryday (Tullamore/Connacht)
Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Leah Lyons (Highfield/Munster)
Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht)
Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/Leinster)
Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster)
Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians/Connacht)
Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht)
Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster)
Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Ilse van Staden (Cooke/Ulster)
* Denotes uncapped player at this level
IRELAND WOMEN’S WRWC 2017 FIXTURES:
Pool C –
Wednesday, August 9 –
Ireland v Australia, UCD Bowl, University College Dublin, 7pm
Sunday, August 13 –
Ireland v Japan, UCD Bowl, University College Dublin, 5.15pm
Thursday, August 17 –
Ireland v France, UCD Bowl, University College Dublin, 7.45pm
Tuesday, August 22 –
Semi-Finals, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
Ranking Games, Queen’s University, Belfast
Saturday, August 26 –
Finals, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
Ranking Games, Queen’s University, Belfast