The Galwegians women picked up their second win of the season with an 11-7 home victory over St. Mary’s College on Sunday. See below for a match report and round-up of all the results in the Women’s All-Ireland League.
Having already showed vast improvements on last season’s displays in the first two matches of their Women’s All-Ireland League season, Galwegians’ latest contest was guaranteed to be one of, if not, the ultimate test of their new-found mental graft and toughness.
Their opposition took the form of St. Mary’s College, peerless in Division Two for the last two seasons, whose Division One debut the previous week resulted in an impressive 35-0 defeat of perennial league contenders, Navan.
Despite this being St. Mary’s inaugural season in the top flight, the teams were already well acquainted with each other.
Players from both squads had amalgamated in May and together won the 2009 Kinsale Sevens Women’s Plate title in impressive fashion.
Given their amicable history, and with both teams having earmarked this fixture as a crucial game in their league campaign, the scene was set for a tense and thoroughly entertaining encounter.
The ambition of both teams was bolstered by the impressive crowd which gathered at Laurel Park, Newcastle, for the spectacle.
Sincere thanks must be extended at this point to Our Lady’s Boys Rugby Club for the generous use of their grounds and to Mick Carolan for lining the pitch.
The game started off sprightly, with both packs extremely competitive in the scrums and at the breakdown. The Galwegians’ back line, improving immensely with every game played, proved able opposition for the well-reputed St. Mary’s backs.
Making quick ground in the early stages of the game, the home side found themselves within the opposition’s 22, and two Angela Flaherty penalties gave them a six-point cushion after 20 minutes.
However, a combination of nerves and ill-discipline handed the game back to St. Mary’s.
A fortuitous gap in the Galwegians defence gave centre Gill Nolan the opportunity to touch down beside the posts, with Sue Hughes converting to hand St. Mary’s a 7-6 advantage going into the break.
Once again, the influence and example of captain Ruth O’Reilly was instrumental in resurrecting ‘Wegians and avoiding what would have been an undeserved defeat.
The second half ultimately belonged to the Galway side. Explosive rucking and fantastic line runs from all parts of the field demonstrated the gap in experience between both teams.
It was in fact Flaherty’s replacement, Edel Durkin, who landed the decisive blow to St. Mary’s efforts with a fine try emanating from a well-executed ruck.
The backs, led by Clare Raftery, were exemplary in their running, thanks in no part to the excellent service provided by scrum half Sorcha Ní Chadhain.
Replacement winger Marie Foley marked her return from sabbatical with a crunching match-saving tackle in the last minutes of the game.
Meanwhile, Katherine McDonagh and Maedbh Moriarty, new to the second and front rows respectively, showed discipline and wisdom beyond their years to contribute to the impressive Galwegians scrum, with Emer O’Dowd returning to the number 8 position in commanding fashion.
Not for the first time this season, however, Galwegians were let down by their discipline – a multitude of penalties conceded gave away possession and ultimately took the gloss of what should have been a bigger victory margin.
However, given the palpable tensions the contest provided, Galwegians can be delighted with their win and can look ahead to the remaining league fixtures with optimism.
Galwegians now lie fourth in the table behind Blackrock, Cooke and UL Bohemians.
‘Rock remain top of the league despite losing to UL Bohs, while Cooke scored a narrow win over Highfield to keep them in the top four.
Match report courtesy of Carol Staunton