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Neary’s Final Hopes Dashed

Neary’s Final Hopes Dashed

Ireland women’s winger Fiona Neary had her dreams of appearing at Twickenham dramatically dashed at the end of an epic English Cup semi-final on Sunday.

Her club Waterloo lost a 10-point lead to draw 15-15 with Nottingham Casuals who, following two scoreless periods of extra time, went through on a try-count of three to two.
It was an agonising exit for the Liverpool lasses who, in spite of the absence of the great Gill Burns and hooker Ann O’Flynn, neither of whom were released by the England management, felt they had their best ever chance of reaching the Twickenham showpiece.

A home tie with Casuals was the best semi-final draw they could have hoped
for and Waterloo were well placed when they added an unconverted try to a 10-5 interval lead.

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But the Notts team, who had lost at Waterloo in the Premiership but won
heavily in the home league meeting, gradually got on top and crossed their hosts’ line twice to draw level. In extra-time, a controversial offside decision after a deflected kick ahead called Waterloo back just when it seemed there may be a chance to put Neary over in the corner.

The final whistle brought heartbreak for Waterloo, but delight for the
midlanders, who will now face Clifton, winners over new Premiership champions Saracens, in next month’s Twickenham decider.

“It’s pretty devastating” admitted Fiona last night. “We knew we had a real chance and, at 15-5 up were in a good position, but they came back into it well. To go out on try-count after drawing a match in which we had a useful lead is a pretty awful feeling. To be honest, losing by 50 points probably wouldn’t feel as bad.”

Unlike many of her Waterloo team-mates, however, Neary’s season is far from finished, with two Six Nations games and a World Cup still to look forward to, starting with the game against Spain in Limerick in five days time.