Galway Touch Rugby players head to Euros

The Ireland W27s Touch squad: Back row: Conor Slack (coach), Dawn Smith, Anthea Joyce, Claire Picard, Ciara Gallagher, Ele Flood, Michelle Mulcahy, Michelle Coen, Sana Tansey (team manager), Front row: Sarah Jane Hannon, Amy Evans, Nicola Corcoran, Jenny McDonnell, Elaine Hall, Neasa Newell, Colleen Markland. Absent: Caitriona De Paor.Photo: Oliver O’Flanagan.

The Ireland W27s Touch squad: Back row: Conor Slack (coach), Dawn Smith, Anthea Joyce, Claire Picard, Ciara Gallagher, Ele Flood, Michelle Mulcahy, Michelle Coen, Sana Tansey (team manager), Front row: Sarah Jane Hannon, Amy Evans, Nicola Corcoran, Jenny McDonnell, Elaine Hall, Neasa Newell, Colleen Markland. Absent: Caitriona De Paor.Photo: Oliver O’Flanagan.

Members of the Irish Women's Touch Rugby team, many of whom play with Galway Touch, are taking part in the European European Touch Championships in Jersey next month.

The Irish team, which is based in Galway, is coached by Conor Slack who first set up Galway Touch Rugby in 2012. Now most the players in the Irish women's over 27 team hail from the west of Ireland and Dublin.

The W27s first appeared on the international scene at the 2014 European Touch Championships in Wales. Despite memorable wins over Scotland and Wales, the Irish women finished fourth after losing to France and the powerful eventual champions England.

Since then the women have travelled to several women's tournaments in the UK and France in an effort to improve their chances of international success.

Renmore native Nicola Corcoran believes the Irish team now boasts some experienced players.

"The core of our squad played in Swansea in 2014 with some of the girls having competed in several international tournaments, so we have a wealth of experience to draw on," she says.

"Our new players have brought pace, strong rugby skills and a great natural instinct. We have been well prepared over the past few months by our coach Conor Slack. It is a tough schedule with eight games in the first three days, but we are really looking forward to getting to Jersey now and getting started."

Another experienced player, Caitriona De Paor is representing Ireland at the tournament for a second time.

"We finished fourth in Swansea two years ago so we're hoping to improve on that result this time as we have a much stronger and more experienced team," she says.

"We have a combination of players based in Dublin and Galway so we hold training sessions in both locations and also in Athlone to help facilitate and reduce travel time for all players. Our pool consists of England, Scotland, France and Switzerland, so we're looking forward to taking them on."

While Ireland will complete in the women's over 27 category, there are seven categories involving both men and women from some 13 countries at this biennial tournament which is taking place from July 7 to 10.

In Ireland this fast paced non-contact version of rugby played has been mainly played in Dublin, Wicklow and Galway, while in partnership with the IRFU, Touch Rugby leagues were set up in Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick.

Any one interested in playing can check out the Galway Touch Rugby Facebook page or http://touchrugbygalway.com/. The women are fundraising for their trip to the Euros and any one wishing to contribute can visit https://www.gofundme.com/IrishW27s and be in with a chance to win a weekend for two in Castlemartyr Resort in Cork, among other prizes.

Back Row: (L to R ) Conor Slack (Coach ), Dawn Smith, Anthea Joyce, Claire Picard, Ciara Gallagher, Ele Flood, Michelle Mulcahy, Michelle Coen, Sana Tansey (Team Manager ), Front Row: (L to R ) Sarah Jane Hannon, Amy Evans, Nicola Corcoran, Jenny McDonnell, Elaine Hall, Neasa Newell, Colleen Markland. Absent: Caitriona De Paor.

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