UL Bohemian’s Women blaze trail in club rugby and produce stars for Ireland squad

Colm Kinsella

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella

Email:

ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

UL Bohemian’s Women blaze trail in club rugby and produce stars for Ireland squad

UL Bohemians celebrating their All-Ireland Cup win this season

THE UL-Bohemian women's team continues to go from strength-to-strength since it was first established in 2001/2002 in the wake of the merger of the rugby clubs of UL and Bohemians. Supported by Chairman of Selectors, Martin O’Sullivan, the women’s side was initially coached by Ian Costello, currently at Premiership side Wasps, and Christy Neilan.

This first season marked the start of unrivalled success for the group, playing eight matches and winning seven and beating Shannon in the final in Waterpark.

In the following season 2002-2003 the side, captained by Sarah Jane Belton, again coached by Costello, who was assisted by Patrick Durkan, won all 10 games, beating local rivals Shannon RFC in the decider.

In all, the club has won 13 out of 17 All-Ireland Leagues as well as numerous provincial and national cups, cementing their position as one of Irish sport’s most successful teams of all time.

The 2019 Munster and All-Ireland Cup winners are the only Limerick side competing in the First Division at present.

To date, 33 players from the club have been capped by Ireland, with many more representing Ireland in the World Sevens Series.

Six UL-Bohs players have captained Ireland, most notably Fiona Coughlan who, supported by six of her UL-Bohs club mates, led Ireland to their only Grand Slam in 2013 and to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2015, a feat not yet achieved by the men’s team.

Joy Neville, a member of that Grand Slam winning side, and a multiple medal winner with UL-Bohs, has gone on to become a very prominent international professional referee, winning the accolade of World Rugby Referee of the Year in 2017 in the face of formidable opposition, both male and female.

Last season, the famous Barbarians side played an inaugural women’s game in Ireland versus Munster at Thomond Park with no fewer than 18 UL-Bohs players participating. 

The Munster squad who defended their interprovincial title during September 2018 contained 17 UL-Bohs players.

At the recent IRFU Awards, several UL-Bohs players scooped prestigious awards, including Enya Breen who won the Women’s AIL Rising Star Award in a season where she also made her international debut and Ben Martin the current UL-Bohs women's coach, who won the Women’s AIL Coach of the Year accolade. Martin helped ensure UL topped the table, claimed the All-Ireland Cup before narrowly losing out to Railway in the recent league final. 

Also honoured on the night was Niamh Briggs who received the Women’s AIL Top Points Scorer award with 88 points and Ciara Griffin, who was selected as Player of the Year for 2018/2019.

Girls of all ages who wish to get involved in underage and senior level rugby should contact Niamh Kavanagh at UL-Bohemian on 086-1448909.

For more see #LLSport