UL were aiming to retain their title, while UCC were geared up to dethrone them having played them in the last 2 finals. The reigning champions made hard work of the game with uncharacteristic errors throughout, but a great defensive effort ensured that the cup returned to Limerick once more.
UL started strong with out-half Laura O’ Mahony making several breaks and looked dangerous with ball in hand. UL’s starting team consisted of 8 players who joined the team this year, many of whom had never played before which is a testament to the ever evolving club and coaching staff.
After a scoreless first half, which saw UCC unable to capitalise on territory in the opposition 22, UL’s Laura O’ Mahony spotted a gap and sneaked in under the UCC posts on 50 minutes. Scrum Half Ailish Toner converted putting the score at 7-0 in UL’s favour.
UCC showed great determination to get back in the game and mauled UL over their line from a line-out 10 minutes later. UCC captain, Eimear Galvin who was the outstanding player on the day emerged with the ball. The conversion was narrowly missed leaving the score at 7 points to 5 in favour of UL.
UCC battled to the very end but UL and particularly captain Fiona Reid showed all their know-how and experience to hold out.
In the division 2 showpiece, IT Carlow overcame the holders IT Tralee to win their first ever trophy in Women’s rugby. A clearly well drilled IT Carlow scored late through Tanala Kehoe to take the win in this nip-tuck encounter on a score line of 20 points to 15.
This season’s tournament was hosted at the impressive Institute of Technology, Carlow campus. After 2 days of rugby the University of Limerick came out on top in Division 1 by beating UCC by 20 points to 15. UL now hold every trophy available to them including the CUSAI Student Sevens crown last October.
Top players over the course of the tournament for UL were top try scorer Ashling Hutchings, Sarah Jane Cody and Fiona Reid with Ailish Toner ever reliable with the boot. For UCC, captain Eimear Galvin, winger Freda Casey and hooker Zoe Grattage were outstanding. Although NUI Galway failed to reach the final, wing forward Heather Carey really stood out and has a great future in the game.
After both teams finished as top two from a round robin containing Cork IT and DCU, IT Carlow overcame IT Tralee in the Division 2 final. Encouraged by a partisan home crowd, IT Carlow raced into a 14 nil lead which they never relinquished. Tries from Laura Collins, Meagan Parkinson and a brace from Tanala Kehoe for IT Carlow saw them win on a score line of 24 points to 7. IT Tralee’s try came from Ciara O’Connor which she converted herself.
For more information on Student rugby please contact Eoin.Hogan@IRFU.IE