Kilkenny College will play host to a fresh-faced Kate Russell All-Ireland Championships line-up with two complete newcomers in the field and no winner from the past decade contesting the title.
The hosts are one of two previous champions, landing the crown way back in 1994, but go into the competition with high hopes and a strong line-up with 11 of the South East’s Under-18 interpro panel.
Up front, Yasmin Pratt is the Leinster Division One top goalscorer to date this term as part of Muckross’s superb run to the title while Sophie Thomas is another who can have a big impact.
The have six Irish Under-18 trialists and went unbeaten in last year’s competition but draws against eventual champs Banbridge Academy and Muckross Park meant a second place finish.
They open their campaign against Loreto Foxrock who ended a 41-year wait for Leinster victory when Christina Hamill got the only goal in their final against St Andrew’s.
That was before the Kate Russell was introduced but they do have plenty of class to draw from with Hamill flanked by Caitlin Sherin and Siofra O’Brien as Irish underage stars to watch out for.
Connacht’s champions this year are Salerno and they will meet Mount Mercy who won back the Munster title with their final replay victory over Crescent Comprehensive College. Mercy are the most recent winners, picking up the title in 2006.
Rainey Endowed are the other first-time entrant having won the Ulster competition following a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Banbridge in the final with Erin Mulholland making the winning saves.
Their campaign starts with a game against Kilkenny College in their second game of the day. It starts off a helter-skelter two day series with each side playing four games over the course of the competition.
Kilkenny are looking forward to welcome all to the event with updates via their Twitter account (https://twitter.com/kilkennycollege) while they intend to post video clips to the following Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCT-hHc8StG3_vJApc2NK21Q
Thursday, March 22: Loreto Foxrock v Kilkenny College, 9.30am; Salerno v Mount Mercy, 11am; Rainey Endowed v Kilkenny College, 12.30pm; Mount Mercy v Loreto Foxrock, 2pm; Rainey Endowed v Salerno, 3.30pm
Friday, March 23: Rainey Endowed v Loreto Foxrock, 9.30am; Mount Mercy v Kilkenny College, 11am; Loreto Foxrock v Salerno, 12.30pm; Mount Mercy v Rainey Endowed, 2pm; Salerno v Kilkenny College, 3.30pm