Three of Ireland’s Grand Slam winners – Nora Stapleton, Ailis Egan and Marie Louise Reilly received a heroes welcome at the recent Wicklow girls blitz which featured teams from seventeen clubs. Ronan Griffey from Wicklow RFC brings us this report.
The sun thankfully decided to grace Wicklow Rugby club with its presence last Saturday and it’s arrival along with nearly two hundred U-18 girlsand as many more spectators created a carnival atmosphere.
This set a perfect tone for what was intended to be a festival of Rugby to celebrate what has been a fantastic year for women’s and girls Rugby in Ireland.
The trophy and the three ladies were a big hit with all the girls many of who were seeing the Trophy and their heroines in the flesh for the first time. Orderly queues were formed by young and old alike for much valued photos and autographs.
The Rugby itself was of a really high quality with 17 clubs represented in total. There were nearly 20 fifteen a side matches played on the day and thanks to the organisational skills of John Alvey and Bernie O’Donoghue
everything ran smoothly on the day.
The standard to Rugby being played was of an extremely high level. The girls skill sets and commitment meant the
vast majority of the matches were hugely competitive with most games having only one try separating them.
With the group matches over the competition went into the knockout phase with Portlaoise V Kilkenny Westmanstown and Wicklow V Clane/Longford/Greystones making up the Cup semi finalists and New Ross/Enniscorthy v Arklow/Tullow and Naas/Cill Dara v Wexford/Portarlington in the Plate semi Finals.
All four semis finals were close fought matches with Wicklow and Portlaoise winning through to contest the final of the cup and Naas/Cill Dara and New Ross/Enniscorthy making it through to the Finals.
To say the finals were close fought matches would be an understatement the defensive commitment and ferocity of tackling in both matches was top notch and it took a breakaway try in the last minute of both finals to break the deadlock.
Nass/Cill Dara pipped New Ross/Enniscorthy in the plate final and Wicklow U18 girls completing a great season for the garden girls with a last gasp try from deep in their own half to take the Leinster Blitz title to add to their Leinster league and South East League titles.
On Behalf of Wicklow RFC we would like to pass on our appreciation to all the attending teams at the first all Leinster end of season blitz.
The atmosphere like the rugby was fantastic and could not have been achieved without the coaches making the effort to turn up with their players.
Their attitude to making this a celebration of girls rugby was a credit to them and their players and struck the perfect balance between fun and competition was achieved.
The mixing of clubs together created a great bond between some clubs who had never play with or against
each other before.
We would also like to thank the three Irish girls Ailis, Marie Louise and Nora for coming along with the Grand slam trophy and helping to add hugely to the sense of occasion that surrounded the blitz.
Also massive thanks to Jennie and Noeleen form the Leinster branch in helping us organize the day.