History of U.L. Bohemian's Womens Rugby


Women's rugby in UL Bohemian started in the season 2001-2002, as a result of strong interest in rugby at University of Limerick.  When Bohemian RFC and UL merged in 1999, the seed was sown, and 2001-2002 was the first season for the newly formed AIL.

The players behind this move were  Patrique Kelly (our first captain), Louise Beamish, Sarahjane Belton and many more.  Supported by Chairman of Selectors, Martin O’Sullivan, The women were coached by Ian Costello, and Christy Neilan. This first season marked the start of  unrivalled success for this group, having played 8 matches and won 7, they beat Shannon in the final in Waterpark, by 10 points to 8.The statistics for the campaign are Points for-135, Points against 50.

Having won the AIL for the first time, it’s important to list the squad; Mary O’Loughlin, Carmel Murphy, Maeve Quirke, Miriam Clegg, Lynn Cantwell, Sarah Keane, Fiona Coughlan, Elaine Collins, Edwina O’Brien, Lisa Coburn, Louise Beamish, Sarahjane Belton, Patrique Kelly, Kate Hennessy, Rochelle Howell, Muireann Nic Caba.

In season 2002-2003, captained by Sarahjane Belton, coached again by Ian Costello, and assisted by Patrick Durkan, there were 10 games to be played, and all 10 were won. We beat Shannon RFC in the final by 12-3, and was played in Nenagh RFC. Statistics show that we scored 347 pts, and conceded 45.

In the 2003-2004 season, the ladies were captained by Mary O’Loughlin, and coached by Pat Durkan, Ian Costello and Anthony Hartigan. We achieved a memorable hat trick of titles, having played 6 matches and won 6. Again Shannon were the runners up to us, in a campaign that we scored  134 points and conceded 31 points.The final was played at Old Crescent RFC. Mary also lifted the All Ireland Cup for the first time.

The 2004-2005 season saw a change in the management team, as Fiona Coghlan took over as captain with Coleman Finn and Elaine Collins as coaches, and they continued their impressive run, with a comprehensive  unbeaten run of 9 victories. They scored 327 pts and 33 pts were scored against us. We beat Blackrock RFC in the final by 34-15, in Clonmel RFC.

In 2005-2006, Roisin McNulty captained the side, with Coleman Finn and Elaine Collins as coaches, and Jason Enright managed the group. They won 10 out of 10, and scored 339 pts, and conceded 37. The Ladies  beat Blackrock RFC in the final by 21-6, held at Cill Dara RFC. Roisin also lifted the All Ireland Bowl this season.

Edel Coen captained the side in 2006-2007, with the same management team in place, recorded 8 wins out of 9 matches, to win their 6th title in a row, by beating Highfield RFC in the final 10-8 in Portlaoise. The statistics for the campaign are 236 pts for, and 42 pts against.

The 2007-2008 season  saw Louise Beamish as captain, with Gary Walsh as coach. We won 6 out of 9 matches, and 1 draw. We played Blackrock RFC in the final at Nenagh RFC, and  the score at full-time was 10-10. The result was decided  with a drop goal shoot-out. Unfortunately we lost 2-1. However, Louise led her team to win the All Ireland Cup, some consolation for  missing out on the League.

Lynn Cantwell captained the side in 2008-2009 season, with Ed Torrie coming in as assistant coach to Gary Walsh, and once again, we claimed another title with 8 wins from 8 starts. We beat Blackrock RFC in the final 33-7, which was very pleasing, considering  last  seasons loss. This was a most disciplined season, as we only conceded 33pts, and amassed a total of 325. The final was held in Athlone, and the referee  declared the pitch unplayable (pitch too hard) as it hadn’t rained in weeks. It was decided to call in the “Fire Brigade” and the pitch was watered. The final was delayed for 2 hours, but we held our focus, and were victorious. This squad did the double, as they won the All Ireland Cup as well.

The captain for 2009-2010 was Patrique Kelly, and  Louise Beamish and Jeannette Feighery were added as managers. Another successful season  winning 7 out of 7 matches, scoring 193 pts and 33 against. We played Blackrock RFC in the final, winning 17-0. Athlone was again the venue, and this was our 8th AIL Title. Patrique and her team, made it 3 in a row, as they won the All Ireland Cup again as well as the Munster Cup.

Patrique Kelly  was again captain for 2010-2011 season, and were emphatic winners of the League. We won 11 out of 11, and there was no final this season(straight league), and we scored 455 pts and conceded  57 pts. Our 9th title. Another Cup win, made it 4 in a row. The girls also won the All Ireland “Sevens” this season. The Munster Cup was also added to the trophy cabinet this season.

In 2011-2012 season  Patrique Kelly, once again was captain, with Gary Walsh and Louise Beamish in the management team.  We won 10 out of 10, with 409 points for and 43 against. It was our 10th title, and it was run off in a straight league basis. No final. We also won the All Ireland Plate, and the Munster Cup.

The season of 2012-2013, with Jeannette Feighery as captain, and Sean Rennison as coach, with Rory Whyte and Alan Rossiter assisting, and Paul Hennessy as manager, saw us  win 7 from 7 in the league, and win an 11th title. There was no final as it was a straight league. We also won the All Ireland plate Final which was held in St. Mary’s RFC. Remarkably we only conceded 25 points throughout this campaign.

The 2013-2014 season was a year of transition in which many international players retired on the back of the 2013 Grand Slam success.Coach Mike Essex, Manager Paul Hennessy, Captain Dee O'Brien. Bohs finished 4th in the AIL, total 9 games - Played 7 pool games, won 4 lost 3. Made it to top 4. Lost to belvo in semi final, Lost to Blackrock in the 3/4 playoff in Naas RFC.

2014-2015 season the team still in transition was coached by  Mike Storey, Manager Paul Hennessy, Captain Fiona Hayes. Came 3rd in the AIL - total 9 games, Played 7 pool games, won 4, lost to belvo and blackrock, drew one with wegians. Beat railway in last pool game to make it to top 4. Lost semi final to belvo 7-0 up in Old Belvo and beat Wegians in 3/4 playoff up in Galway.

2015-2016 season the team was coached by Mike Storey, Manager Paul Hennessy, Captain Maeve D'Arcy. Came 2nd in AIL - Lost final to Old Belvedere  in Donnybrook by 2 points. Beat blackrock with a bonus point in last pool game to finish top of table. Beat Railway Union in semi final in UL 4G. Won Munster Cup beating Highfield in Garryowen and Lost All Ireland Cup semi-final to Cooke in UL 4G.

The 2016-2017 season coached by Mike Storey, Backs Coach Ricki Manager Maeve D'Arcy, Captain Fiona Hayes.Won AIL, beat Old Belvedere in final 10-0 in Donnybrook. Won Munster Cup v Highfield in Cork. Won All Ireland Cup. Limerick sports star award for May 2017.

2017-2018: Coach Sean Fitzpatrick,Backs Coach Ben Martin Manager Kate Kirby, Captain Fiona Hayes. Won AIL, beat Old Belvedere in Portlaoise in final. Lost AIL Cup Final to Railway in Athlone.Won Munster Cup V Highfield.

The last 17 years of Women’s rugby in the club is one of unparallelled success, and a record that will stand up in any generation.

For the record(AIL) Played 150, Won 134, Loss 15, Draw 1. Points for 4496, Points against 958, and 13 Titles.

Throughout these years, many of our players have represented Ireland in the 15’s game and  in 7’s.

Ireland 15’s

Sarahjane Belton, Lynne Cantwell, Patrique Kelly, Mairead Kelly, Rochelle Howell, Louise Beamish, Jeannette Feighery, Niamh Kavanagh, Gillian Bourke, Fiona Coghlan, Elaine Collins, Edel Coen, Emma Stanley, Caroline Mahon, Mary OLoughlin, Carmel Murphy, Rachel Tucker, Fiona Hayes, Joy Neville, Laura Guest, Louise Austin, Nicole Fitzgerald, Maeve Quirke,Niamh Briggs, Fiona Reidy, Anna Caplice, Chloe Pearse, Liz Burke, Ciara Griffin, Nicole Cronin, Louise Galvin, Eimear Considine

Ireland 7’s

Niamh Kavanagh, Joy Neville, Jeannette Feighery, Aisling Hutchins, Claire Keohane, Niamh Briggs, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Louise Galvin.

Our star player Mairead Kelly has also won an All Ireland Football medal with Cork.

Elaine Collins is married to Tony Buckley of Munster and Sale fame.

Rachel Tucker (sister to our former head coach Colm) is married to Tom Hayes (Exeter Chiefs).

Olivia Stapleton married Mike Essex and Louise Beamish married Ian Costello.

Nicole Fitzgerald is daughter of Packo Fitzgerald, former international prop.

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