Munster trio aim to make most of their Ireland opportunity
Ireland Women will travel to The Stoop tomorrow, November 14 to take on current World Cup champions England, in a warm-up match, as they bid to defend their Six Nations title next February.
Ireland head coach Tom Tierney recently named his squad which includes Munster and Ireland stalwart Niamh Briggs along with three uncapped Munster players.
Following their recent Interprovincial title we meet the Munster players who are set to feature in tomorrow's challenging encounter.
Residence: Croagh, Co Limerick
Club: UL Bohemian RFC
Munster Caps: 8
Interprovincial Titles: 2
Fiona Reidy began her rugby career aged 18 at the University of Limerick while studying English and Media. She captained the university team for three years while also playing with club side UL Bohemian RFC from 2006 to 2011. She claimed her first Interprovincial title in 2010 before moving to Abu Dhabi to teach, where she took up sevens rugby.
After five years abroad, Fiona relocated to Limerick and returned to 15-a-side rugby with Bohs. It wasn't long before she was selected to play for her province once again and claimed her second Interprovincial title this season, under head coach Wayne Falvey.
A keen sportswoman, Fiona also played camogie and won a county U18 medal with her local club Croagh Kilfinny and is the head coach of the University of Limerick senior side.
"I was mad into camogie and GAA in general but when I went to college I thought I'd give rugby a go and I've never looked back.
"When I started, Ian Costelloe (Munster assistant coach) was coaching at UL Bohs and I played with the likes of Fiona Coughlan, Caroline Mahon and Lynn Cantwell who were playing with Ireland at the time so you could really say I learnt from the best."
Following on from a squad camp in DCU last weekend the Ireland women started their preparations in September and Fiona said the squad are focused on tomorrow's clash.
"Camp has been very intense but we feel, as a unit, things have really come together for us. We are combining Ireland and club training, incorporating extra skills and conditioning sessions which has been really hectic but also very enjoyable.
"The Interpro series was a massive learning curve - it took us time to get everything right but after many weeks of hard work things finally clicked. Going into the series we stuck to what we know and we were very aware that everyone had to do their job to succeed.
"To play for Ireland is no different - we have a fully committed squad of players with a really good work ethic who will give it everything for the green jersey on Saturday."
Birthplace: Nottingham, England
Residence: Tralee, Co. Kerry
Profession: Public Health graduate, UCC
Club: Tralee RFC
Munster Caps: 5
Interprovincial Titles: 2
Originally from Nottingham, Zoe Grattage moved to Ireland 11 years ago and started her club rugby career aged 19 at Highfield RFC while studying at University College.
She played with the Cork club for three seasons and was part of the squad that won the All Ireland Cup in 2013. Zoe moved to Kerry this season and transferred to Tralee RFC where she plays alongside her Munster colleagues Siobhan Fleming and Ciara Griffin.
With two consecutive Interprovincial titles amongst her achievements, she started in the back row before taking up the hooker role and credits her former Highfield colleague Chris Fanning for developing her skills.
"I first played rugby while studying at UCC in 2009. There were a few Highfield girls on the college team and they encouraged me to join the club.
"In college I started at flanker but one evening at training with Highfield I was messing around - throwing the ball and someone sported me - the next thing I knew I ended up being a hooker!
"The Highfield hooker Chris Fanning, who played for Ireland at the time, took me under her wing and it was from there that I learnt my trade.
"I was always on her toes but she embraced that. The competition was never a threat for her - she gave me a lot of help and advice along the way and a lot of my achievements are down to her.
Named on the replacements, Zoe is looking to claim her first cap tomorrow and said that her long-term goal is to start on the Ireland side heading into next year's Six Nations Championship.
"My long term goal is to get the start on the Ireland team going forward but for now I'm just thinking about Saturday's match.
"We've just come out of camp in Dublin and have been given player specifics that we have to take responsibility for and show Tom (Tierney) and the rest of the coaching team that we have taken everything on board and try to implement the game plan as best as we can.
"England are the world champions so we know it's going to be tough - but the last time the Irish girls came up against them was in last year's Six Nations at Ashbourne and they came away with the win. We'll see what happens but hopefully we can do the same.
Position: Second row
Profession: Theatre nurse
Club: Highfield RFC
Munster Caps: 11
Interprovincial Titles: 2
Elaine will make her debut for Ireland tomorrow and joins captain Niamh Briggs as the two Munster representative players in the starting line-up.
Originally from Cobh, Co Cork, Elaine began her rugby career as an enthusiastic 10-year-old at Cobh Pirates RFC.
Nine years later she took up women's rugby at Waterford City RFC while studying nursing at the Waterford Institute Of Technology. She also represented WIT during her college years and captained the side to All Ireland victory in 2013.
In 2014 Elaine relocated to Cork to work as a theatre nurse at Cork University Hospital and that year joined All Ireland League Club Highfield RFC, coached by former Ireland international Laura Guest.
"I have been very fortunate to have been able to play senior rugby with Highfield where Heather O'Brien (Ireland No 8) and Laura Guest have been an inspiration to me."
"The interconnection between playing for Highfield, lining out with Munster and now taking the step to play for my country fills me with immense pride. I think being named on the starting team is a compliment not only to me, but to every player and member on the coaching staff in Highfield and Munster.
Elaine has represented Munster for the last two seasons, winning back to back Interprovincial titles in 2014 and 2015, and credits Munster Women's head coach Wayne Falvey for Munster's overall achievements.
"He fostered in us a great sense confidence that we could retain the title and the entire squad went into the series with a great confidence. Teamwork and self-belief are lessons that I will take with me on Saturday and hopefully continue on Ireland Women's successes over the last number of years."
Ireland Women (v England) The Stoop, tomorrow
15 Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemian/Munster) capt
14 Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock/ Leinster)*
13 Aine Donnelly (Cill Dara/ Leinster)*
12 Jackie Shiels (Richmond/ Exiles)
11 Mairead Coyne (Galwegians/ Connacht)*
10 Sene Naoupu (Galwegians/ Connacht)
9 Larissa Muldoon (Skewen/ Exile)
1 Ruth O'Reilly (Galwegians/ Connacht)
2 Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/ Leinster)*
3 Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
4 Elaine Anthony (Highfield/ Munster)*
5 Ciara Cooney (Galwegians/ Connacht)*
6 Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
7 Paula Fitzpatrick (Stade Toulousain)
8 Heather O'Brien (Stade Toulousain)
16 Zoe Grattage (Tralee/ Munster)*
17 Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemian/ Munster)
18 Fiona O'Brien (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
19 Katie Norris (Blackrock/ Leinster)
20 Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/ Leinster)*
21 Mary Healy (Galwegians/ Connacht)*
22 Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
23 Claire McLaughlin (Queens University/ Ulster)*
*Denotes uncapped player at this level.