The Bank of Ireland Leinster Women’s Division 5 Cup starts at the semi-final stage on Sunday.

Ashbourne v Tallaght, Archerstown Road, KO: 1pm.
The last women’s team in Ashbourne disbanded over 15 years ago, a push finally coming in 2020 for a women’s side to return to the club.

In 2021, CCRO Graham Brennan put the building blocks in place and, in the summer of 2022, Judy Bobbett, Mahon, Matt Gardiner and Orla Hayes set out to get this group of girls ready for their first season with the black and amber.

Over 70% of the team had never played rugby before. As a group, it was hard to set goals and targets.

Fast forward to March 2023, Ashbourne finished second in the League to Tallaght with Naoise Smyth, just 19, standing out, putting them in a positive frame of mind for a crack at the Cup.

Tallaght will come into this competition on the back of seven wins from eight rounds in Division Five of the League.

The leadership group has provided great role models with captain Eileen Shanahan playing number 9 and taking control of plays from there.

Martina Fitzpatrick, a vice-captain, is a stalwart of Tallaght Rugby, playing for over 10 years. Her knowledge and awareness of the game are key.

Their top try scorer this season is number 8, Lousie Leonard, who is a strong ball carrier with great handling skills, not afraid to carry, kick and pass.

Out-half Grainne Flood has grown in confidence this season, with her kicking and vision of the field coming on immensely.

Nicole Fanning is one of the few that have come through the underage set up and her vision for the game is second to none.

Swords v Newbridge, ALSAA, KO: 1pm
Since the post-Covid return to rugby, Swords has grown from having five to six players at training to fulfill every fixture for the 2022-2023 season, finishing third in Division Five.  place, a testament to the growing confidence of the team.

Swords play a brand of rugby that involves moving the ball quickly under the stewardship of half-backs Lana McDonald and Maeve Moran.

In the tight spaces, working on footwork in training has allowed forwards such as Sandra Mallon and Toni Fagan to make the extra metre and open gaps for the line breaks regularly made by sisters Emma Jane and Megan Gannon.

This quick attacking rugby would not be possible without hard work from the likes of Susannah Hanratty, Katie Heffernan, and Ellen Clarke to secure the rucks.

The Newbridge Women’s team was formed last September off the back of their summer mixed tag rugby tournament.

Only four players had played any rugby before. For the coaches, Paul Treacey, Paul Passmore and Seb Berti, it was back to basics and teaching them the game from scratch.

Newbridge like to stay on their feet and keep the ball alive. That is when they are at their best.

They have really started playing together as a unit, and that’s mostly due to the great leadership on and off the pitch of out-half Amy Tierney and hooker Charlotte Connolly.

The Kildare club love to play off really strong ball carriers in centre Maeve Tierney, flanker Roisin O’Grady and front rower Emma Fagan to release centre Sophie Murphy and wings Niamh Carey and Molly Cassidy into space.

Ashbourne RFC
COACHES – Judy Bobbett, Matt Gardiner, Jeff Mahon, Orla Hayes.
CO-CAPTAINS – Eimear Keanevey, Sammy McCoy, Ciara-Lee Jenkinson, Sophie Kilburn.
SQUAD –  Olivia Fogerty, Rebecca Carr, Emily Doyle, Rebecca O’Brien, Niamh Bowe, Rebecca Behan, Laura Behan, Naoise Smyth, Sophie Kilburn, Catherine Milner, Sorcha Kelly, Eimear Keanevey, Sammy McCoy, Ciara-Lee Jenkinson, Hayley Jenkinson, Laura Mahon, Kelly Mahon, Catriona Byrne, Olivia Gardiner, Laura Creeby, Lauren Battersby, Ella Murtagh, Maggie Randle, Robyn Gibney, Niamh Murray.

Newbridge RFC
COACHES – Paul Treacey, Paul Passmore, Seb Berti
CO-CAPTAINS – Charlotte Connolly and Amy Tierney
SQUAD – Emma Fagan, Charlotte Connolly, Katelyn Tomkins, Rhian Daibhis, Ann Marie, Rachael Bradley, Leah Best, Clare Quille, Kate Crowley, Niamh Doran, Roisin O Grady, Kyla Crystal Coelho, Niamh Rabbette, Ali Eaton, Meg Tierney, Catriona Ross, Amy Tierney, Maeve Tierney, Sophie Murphy, Niamh Carey, Lauren Piare, Michaela Delaney, Molly Cassidy, Megan Ferguson, Georgia Markham, Fionnuala Finnegan, Jenny Kelly, Bre Quinlivan, Niamh Ebbs, Eve O’Grady.

Swords RFC
COACHES – Amy Coll, Robert Gilshenan, Karl Hayes.
CO-CAPTAINS – Lauren Heffernan, Maeve Moran, Lana McDonald.
SQUAD – Lauren Carpenter, Ellen Clarke, Hannah Cleary, Rachel Donnelly, Toni Fagan, Emma Jane Gannon, Megan Gannon, Beth Hassan, Susannah Hanratty, Katie Heffernan, Lauren Heffernan, Sandra Mallon, Sarah McBrearty, Mary Beth McBrearty, Áine McClean, Lana McDonald, Caitríona McCarthy, Maria Montañés, Maeve Moran, Lauren Murch, Ciara Murphy, Mariana Passionoto Costa, Lauren Redmond.

Tallaght RFC 
COACHES – Hayley Whyte (head coach), Andy Grace (forwards coach), Ciaran Rudd (backs coach)
CAPTAIN – Eileen Shanahan
SQUAD – Martina Fitzpatrick, Orlaith Plunkett, Samantha Ledden, Lisa O’Connell, Kim Littlefield, Aimee Travers, Lisa Connors, Louise Leonard, Eileen Shanahan, Grainne Flood, Ellen Crotty, Nicole Fanning, Aisling Pyke, Sorcha Burns, Doireann O’Byrne, Vicky Cobbe, Laura Dalton, Emma Irvin, Hilary Allen, Ciara McLoughlin, Jensen Byrne, Alison Lyons, Nikita Murray, Chloe Conroy, Stacey Vernon, Larissa Marinelli Pereira, Veronica Criado, Niamh Moore, Clodagh Cullagh.