Railway Union – Women’s Division One preview

Last Season: 1st; IHL Winners; ISC runners-up; Jacqui Potter quarter-finals; National Indoor champions

Coach: Mick McKinnon (4th season)

Players In: Grace O’Flanagan (UCD), Orla Fox (Pembroke), Alex Speers (Dragons, BEL), Julia O’Halloran (UCC)
Players Out: Kate McKenna (Spain), Holly Jenkinson (travels), Helen Stevenson (Erasmus)

Summary: Like for like replacements of their three major departees and some international additions see Railway with plenty of talent in their midst for the coming season.

Grace O’Flanagan returns to her home club from UCD for the Erasmus-bound Helen Stevenson between the posts; Orla Fox replaces the travelling Holly Jenkinson while Irish international Alex Speers is in the forward line as Kate McKenna is in Spain for the year.

It leaves an impressive surplus of Julia O’Halloran from the summer moves but it is that raising of the club’s international quotient which may cause Mick McKinnon the most selection headaches.

Gene Muller’s CPP draft plans are likely to see internationals miss five Leinster league games on rest weekends, two of which are pencilled in to be against Old Alex – a side who have two players involved.

Isobel and Cecelia Joyce’s international cricket commitments will see them miss a couple of games, too.

As such, squad rotation is going to be key with youngsters Lisa McCarthy and Kate Lloyd likely to play bigger roles in the first team, especially with two European competitions to prepare for.

Zara Delany, meanwhile, could well feature for the first time in Railway colours since moving from Loreto over a year ago. Her injuries are on the mend and if she regains her form, she could be one of the hottest prospects in the league.

For all these concerns, Railway still have so much quality that it is impossible not to see them in contention on all fronts.

Their IHL group looks comfortable enough with Cork Harlequins losing some of their key talent, though UCD could be tricky with Niamh Atcheler, Chloe Watkins and Brenda Flannery on board but a playoff place should be the least of their expectations.

First three games: Bray (h); Trinity (a); Pembroke (h)

Women's Leinster Senior Div 1