With Loreto off the scene, there is no major shark on the scene with Leinster women’s Division One looking to be incredibly competitive in the race to be crowned provincial champion and earn a place at the end of season EYHL promotion playoffs.
Old Alex were the best placed last season and will hope new coach Tarrin Ramsden can build on the solid work put together by Nicky King last season with international goalkeeper Pamela Smithwick captaining the side.A couple of key players have made the short hop down the Churchtown Road to Loreto – Freya and Hannah McDermott – but the returns of a couple of college players and Isy Delamar’s arrival means they will be pushing for the upper echelons.
Their first battle is away to a Rathgar side who stayed up last term despite a 10th place finish. They initially survived via a playoff win over Our Lady’s – the best placed side in Division 2 – and then were further assured of a place in the league by Loreto’s promotion which allowed Our Lady’s to move up anyway.
Trinity, last season, withdrew from the playoff series after a third place finish due to their exam schedule. This year, top spot in Leinster will skip the first phase which has been trimmed by a day in length with designs on making it more accommodating to clubs to take part.
The students, as such, will hope they can take part and make a play for the national league this time around. Experienced heads like Anna-May Whelan and Vera Taaffe move on but they have made some good additions, not least Irish Under-21 panelist Ellie Noone from Connacht. They meet Our Lady’s first up.
Glenanne look to the likes of Audrey Westlake and Niamh Ward as usual for their impetus along with new skipper Marie Goulding. Ben Epstein takes over from Kieran Bolger as the team’s head coach.
Their opening task is against Genesis who have a high quality coaching team in the form of Lisa Jacob and Fiona Connery, the latter of whom will also play to lend huge knowledge and experience to the side. This tie could give plenty of information about the two club’s respective levels.
Muckross started last season like a house on fire before dropping back into fifth but they still have the skills of Nicci Daly – now also assistant coach – to draw on along with a number of new faces. A trio have moved to new clubs with EYHL ambition on their mind.
They meet North Kildare on day one with the Kilcock side growing in confidence with the return of a number of players from abroad like Hannah Jenkinson and Aideen Griffen as well as Sean Carty.
At Newpark, Avoca will look to transfer their cup form from last year into the league but have seen strong players like Anna Richardson, Rachel MacAuley and Ine Pavanello leave.
They host a Corinthian team who bring Lauren McGrane and Alanah Quinsey back into the fold while Carol McGowan is back after long-term injury to give them a key piece in their puzzle.
** Currently awaiting information on Our Lady’s; will post once I receive it
Women’s Leinster Division One (Saturday): Genesis v Glenanne, 1pm, St Raphaela’s; Rathgar v Old Alex, 2.15pm, High School; Avoca v Corinthian, 2.30pm, Newpark; Muckross v North Kildare, 3pm, Muckross Park; Trinity v Our Lady’s, 3pm, Santry Avenue