With just a couple of days to the first Interprovincial against Connacht in MU Barnhall (Saturday, 17 August, KO 2pm), preparations for the Leinster U18 Girls squad have been going well.

The extended squad has 35 players from 14 different clubs across the province and they have been making the routine visits to MU Barnhall RFC each Wednesday and Saturday since early July.

While there may have been some turnover in the players involved due to age and injury the coaching and management team have remained the same ensuring that there is consistency and quality being delivered by the players.

Both Head Coach Niall Neville and Assistant Ian Smith have been impressed again by the depth of players within the province and the work that is being done by the clubs, development staff and area squads to prepare these players for the step up to Interprovincial level.

Neville commented: “We are really seeing the work that is being done on the ground coming through clubs, areas teams and then into our squad for the Interprovincial series, the quality of player is improving every year.

“This is key for us, as with the extended series moving from 3 to 5 games the strength and depth of every squad will be tested. Thankfully we have some key players returning this year.

“In the pack, Rachel Murtagh, Holly Leach and Ellie Meade, and in the backs, Ava Jenkins, Kathryn Dempsey and Caoimhe O’Callaghan are all sure to leave their mark.”

Smith added: “The quality of what has come into the squad this year has been really impressive. You have players like Erin King, Aoife Wafer, Katie Whelan to name just a few getting their first experience of rugby at this level and looking like they have been here for the last season or two.”

The game against Connacht this Saturday should provide a good marker of where the two teams are at after their summer of preperations.

There should also be some added spice to this game in particular as it was Connacht, with Irish Senior International Beibhinn Parsons, who pipped Leinster in the decider last year 19-21 to take the title in the same venue. While this game won’t decide the title it will surely make for an interesting game as both teams aim to start their campaign off on the right foot.

Leinster Rugby U18 Girls team to face Connacht (and extended squad):

15. Lauren Patterson (North Meath RFC)
14. Laura Carty (Edenderry RFC)
13. Ciara Faulkner (Tullamore RFC)
12. Kathryn Dempsey (New Ross RFC)
11. Rachel Conroy (Tullamore RFC)
10. Ava Jenkins (Mullingar RFC) VICE-CAPTAIN
9. Katie Whelan (Enniscorthy RFC)
1. Rachel Murtagh (Naas RFC)
2. Emily Slater (Arklow RFC)
3. Megan Collis (Greystones RFC)
4. Holly Leach (MU Barnhall RFC)
5. Dara Yore (North Meath RFC)
6. Erin King (Naas RFC)
7. Aoife Wafer (Enniscorthy RFC)
8. Ellie Meade (Dundalk RFC) CAPTAIN

16. Ellen Murray (Naas RFC)
17. Emily Jo White (North Meath RFC)
18. Eimer Douglas (Wicklow RFC)
19. Ivanna Dempsey (Naas RFC)
20. Hannah Foxe (Tullamore RFC)
21. Beth Roberts (Wicklow RFC)
22. Emma Kelly (Tullamore RFC)
23. Orla Hayes (Ashbourne RFC)

Kate Farrell (Gorey RFC)
Emma Flood (Mullingar RFC)
Hannah Foxe (Tullamore RFC)
Grainne Heagney (Birr RFC)
Nina Hjalmer (Dundalk RFC)
Siobhan Kennedy (Gorey RFC)
Vicky Elms Kinlan (Wicklow RFC)
Lily Marron (Bisto)
Caoimhe O’Callaghan (Dundalk RFC)
Katie Anne O’Neill (Naas RFC)
Oreoluwa Olateju (Cill Dara RFC)
Leah Reilly (Navan RFC)
Ella Roberts (Wicklow RFC)
Rachel Winters (Wicklow RFC)

Leinster U18 Girls Coaching and Management:

Head Coach – Niall Neville

Forwards Coach – Ian Smith

Assistant Coach – Aoife Tyrell

Manager – Jackie Flatley

Physio – Orla Doolin

Video – Jack Hurley

Leinster Rugby U18 Girls Interprovincial Series Fixtures

Saturday, August 17: Leinster Rugby v Connacht Rugby, MU Barnhall (KO 2pm)
Saturday, August 24: Ulster Rugby v Leinster Rugby, Armagh RFC (KO 3pm)
Saturday, August 31: Munster Rugby v Leinster Rugby, Irish Independent Park (KO 1pm)