Bank of Ireland Leinster Women’s Paul Flood Cup Final 
Tullamore v Tullow, SETU Carlow Sports Campus, Saturday (KO4pm). 

Tullamore comes into the Paul Flood Cup final as firm favourites against Division One rivals Tullow.

These two know each other well enough from their League meetings, the Offaly club winning away from home (24-12) and at home (31-15) with something to spare.

Of course, part of what makes the Cup special is that form can go out the window in a one-off match-up.

In addition, Tullamore won’t need to be reminded how the exact same scenario stood last season when Tullow put League form to one side in causing a 27-17 Flood Cup final upset.

Head coach Dermot Tierney looks to play a positive brand of free-flowing rugby in which looking for space is the key to getting in behind.

They will have to guard against a sense of complacency, a job made easier with proper leaders on the field of play.

The back rows Saoirse Quinn and Niamh Hickey are as destructive without the ball as they are positive with it.

Locks Laura Sampson and Kate Fox and prop Eve Tarpey are the driving forces of the front five where they show grit and determination in spades.

Centres Kate McCann and Shannon Touhey make a great one-two punch in attack, while also standing their ground on the other side of the ball.

Tullow are no strangers to the underdog tag and their inbuilt fighting spirit means they won’t hold back.

In terms of their DNA, the no-nonsense attitude of their forwards is nothing more or less than you would expect.

The clever coaching ticket of Paul Canavan and Keiaho Bloomfield will preach the value of trusting in the game plan.

Loose forward and captain Lana Brennan will be eager to repeat the feat of last year when accepting the Cup on behalf of her team.

A decent scrum, led by loose-head Joanna Mahon and hooker Anne O’Neill in the front row, delivers secure ball to launch plays.

There is plenty of carrying power to take them through the gain line in the physicality of back rowers Alex O’Brien and Grace Kelly.

Head coach Canavan had the luxury of leaving O’Brien on the bench in the semi-final as Ciara O’Dwyer took over at number eight.

Out-half Catherine Dempsey is a reliable decision-maker in a pivotal role providing a kicking and running threat beside scrum-half Aoife McGrath.

Outside centre Chloe Farrell is a prolific try-scorer, who has the knack for being in the right place at the right time when it comes to sniffing out scoring opportunities.

The Paul Flood Plate final will be contested by Clare Finn’s Clondalkin and Ciara Meenagh’s Naas at the same venue (KO4.30pm).

Bank of Ireland Leinster Women’s Paul Cusack Cup Final 
New Ross v Wicklow J1, SETU Carlow Sports Campus, Saturday (KO12noon).
New Ross has been on a roll this season, knocking over the South East Lions, Wanderers and Tullamore on their way to the final.

Their immaculate League form in Division Three returned a perfect 14 wins from 14 rounds, including the double over their final opponents.

Their pack is anchored by tight-head prop Carol Kavanagh, a real stabilising influence at the scrum and a standard setter in all aspects in the tight.

The work rate of flanker Emma Flood, the poacher of two tries in the semi-final, is an example to all around her.

Once the towards have been able to establish a platform, out-half Meadhbh O’Dwyer has been pulling the strings all season long, expert at driving New Ross forward with smart decisions.

Inside centre Kathryn Dempsey is the main organiser in defence and is also one with an eye for an opening in attack.

Wicklow J1’s are in their second year of existence, starting off in Leinster Division Four from where they secured promotion last season.

Remarkably, this was followed up with promotion from Division Three this term, in a sign of their development.
They have been just as consistent in the Cusack Cup, losing out in the 2023 final to Naas before making this one.

On the road to the final, Wicklow beat Clontarf, Kilkenny and Greystones with a fair degree of style.

The team consists of a mixture of more experienced forwards, such as danielCaptain O’Leary, Kathy Byrne and Amy O’Neill, coupled with the youth and excitement of a young backline that has more recently come through Wicklow’s excellent underage system.

Saoirse O’Reilly, Alex McGuinness and Jen Madden bring a potent attacking edge and proven scoring ability, while young forwards like Jess Reynolds and Leah Murphy bring dynamism around the pitch.

The Paul Cusack Plate final between the MU-Barnhall J1s, captained by Claire Evans, and Clontarf, led by Niamh Keavney, will have an early kick-off at 11am.

Bank of Ireland Leinster Women’s Division Five Final
Ashbourne v Swords, SETU Carlow Sports Campus, Saturday KO1.30pm
Swords have really made fitness a point of emphasis this season, coach Amy Coll concentrating on the Bronco Test as a means of driving standards there.

They find guidance in their game plan at half-back where Lana McDonald and Maeve Moran are set the task of getting them out of trouble and into the right areas of the field.

Coach Coll has pushed the importance of others stepping into first receiver when necessary with Lauren Heffernan particularly effective in this role and as the primary voice in defence.

Centres Catriona Murphy and Lauren Murch have bonded well in the midfield and Lauren Carpenter has speed and a step to go with it further out.

The set moves are used to gain momentum and, from there, Swords like to promote interplay between backs and forwards in moving the ball.

Hooker Emma Jane Gannon calls the shots in the lineout, leaving number eight Megan Gannon to take on the unorthodox responsibility of throwing into the lineout.

Ashbourne head coach Judy Bobbett is working with a squad that has 70% newcomers to the sport.

It is a credit to her ability to get the basics across to the group that they were able to win their first League match against Swords 21-5, while, literally, learning on the job last October.

Fast-forward five months, the Meath club sealed second spot in Division Five by completing the double over Swords.

Better again, they were able to upset League champions Tallaght 12-5 in the semi-final.

New to the game, Sammy McCoy is a real natural at out-half, capable of using her footballing intelligence to drive her forwards on.

Naoise Smyth is a player on an upward curve and she has been destructive on the ball from number eight.
Inside centre Ciara Lee Jenkinson understands the value of teamwork as a veteran of Riverdance in what is certain to be an interesting dance-off.