Ireland fullback Niamh Briggs brings us her thoughts ahead of the start of the Irish Interprovincial competition this weekend. Briggs is preparing to represent Munster in their first outing against Ulster this weekend, having been part of a league winning season with her Club UL-Bohemians. See here for a preview of the Interprovincial tournament.
By Niamh Briggs
As our 2013 interprovincial campaign kicks off this weekend what better place for me start my first blog of the season.
On Sunday we (Munster) kick off our campaign against Ulster in Belfast which will no doubt be a huge task for us.
Ulster are always an extremely tough and physical side and I have no doubt that come Monday morning there will be a lot of sore and tired bodies around!
Playing for Munster always gives me a great sense of pride, the traditions of pulling on that famous red jersey is always a special moment and one that you can never take for granted. Having lost out on the title last year to a formidable Leinster side, the focus this year has very much been on performing to the best of our abilities to try and regain the title.
Munster are lucky enough to have a game under our belts going into Sundays match as we took on a very good and well organised Exiles team last weekend. Played in tough conditions we did well to come away with a win, but the Exiles made it a very tough game. Having played Leinster the previous Friday night, it was a tough ask for them to play again on the Sunday, but they really put it up to us and the final score line did not do them justice.
I am sure there may be a plan for the Exiles to compete in the Interprovincial series proper at some point again, and rightly so as they have a good squad and resources. It would be great to see them involved. This would also add greatly to the Irish Womens team set-up as it gives the coaches more talent to view. It was also good to see and meet with Lauren Day again who played for the Exiles. Lauren is part of the Irish set up and has also starred for Ulster.
Very sadly Laurens sister Channing was killed in Afghanistan while on duty with the British Army in recent months. Our hearts go out to Lauren and her family and a collection was held after each game for Combat Stress in her memory.
As I'm writing this at the end of November, it seems almost surreal to say that our senior club season is finished in terms of the league campaign. The international players will now break from their clubs for the forthcoming Interpros and the Six Nations campaign. The non-international club players will reconvene in January to play in the All-Ireland Cup, so Irish international players are effectively finished with their clubs for this season which is a real shame as the league this year was one of the most closely fought campaigns in recent times.
Playing the league this year with my club UL Bohemians we captured our 11th title in 12 years - no mean feat but it is a true testament to the squad, coaches and club that they continuously raise the bar for others. We had some tough battles this year especially against Highfield and Old Belvedere and I've no doubt that both will feature heavily in the Cup campaign.
For me personally its been a tough eight or nine months having had some injury problems. It was hard to spend all those days in the gym rehabbing but I was lucky to have a lot of support behind me especially with Ross Callaghan our strength and conditioner. Bless him, he felt the wrath of my frustration many a day!
It was great to finally get back for the club only to break my thumb which set me back again but I can honestly say that it made me take a step back and appreciate playing so much more.
I'm back now (as I touch every piece of wood around me!) and Im raring to go. To say I'm looking forward to this weekend is an understatement - I just can't wait! Hopefully we will get the result we want and start the campaign as we mean to go on.