UL Bohemian women’s side in AIL semi-final action.

Top side UL Bohemian face into a home semi-final with Cooke this Saturday as they continue on their quest to defend their title.

Bohs’ mentor Kate Kirby has told the official IRFU website that she’s looking forward to the big game. “We love hosting Cooke again in Limerick. It’s always good to have a home fixture.

“Our international players are back in the squad and they’ll add greatly to the group of girls who have done Trojan work carrying us through all season. We’re sure it’ll be a very exciting close game and Cooke are not to be underestimated for a second.

“They’re a strong clever team who will always show up on the day. We’ve been training hard and we are backing ourselves totally, but we’ve learned a lot this season. The heartbreak of losing the cup final to Railway is still in the head, but we’ve had a great season really up to now.

“We have a few new young players with amazing potential and long-standing players just progressing massively as the season went on. This makes next season very exciting both on the pitch and off the pitch, which sounds a bit mad in the run-up to a league semi-final, but you always have to be thinking ahead,” Kate added before taking us behind the scenes in the champions’ group.

“There’s always great craic in the Bohs camp. Bus journeys are the best when new players have to sing songs to be initiated into the group. I can tell you there’s been a few interesting song choices along the way. To say they were great ice-breakers would be an understatement.

“As a group we are an incredibly tight-knit rugby family – You couldn’t find better – and that makes it so enjoyable for everyone involved,” Kate concluded.

The opposition are equally ebullient. The Cooke crew have grown into a group of close friends thanks to their exploits on and off the rugby pitch according to their hard-working forward Sorcha Mac Laimhin.

“Back in September we set out a series of goals and have achieved nearly all of them – finishing top four, making the semi-final of the All Ireland cup and winning all but two of our home matches.

“We’ve encountered some serious barriers along the way, but our determination, resilience and hard work has seen us through to the AIL semi-finals for the first time in over a decade,” Sorcha explained.

“We are so proud to have had three of our members included in the Women’s World Cup and Six Nations squads – an incredible achievement. We also had over 20 players involved in the women’s Ulster squad for the 2017 Interpro Series.

“Lastly, we are delighted to have developed a 2nd XV this year and have seen some young players making it onto our First XV through that development pathway.

“This week we look forward to another tough match against UL Bohs and plan to throw everything that we have into the game,” Sorcha added before concluding with her personal take on what makes playing for Cooke so special.

“We play for each other, we play for our mates and we play because (former Ireland international) Eliza Downey (pictured above) will yell at us if we don’t,” she added with a smile.