The final weekend of the Women’s All-Ireland League Division 1 action brought joy for Galwegians as their win over Blackrock pushed them up into third spot in the table, sealing a play-off place. Kate Rowan reviews the final round matches.
WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: Sunday, November 30
DIVISION 1 RESULTS –
Galwegians 32 Blackrock 10, Crowley Park
Highfield 0 Old Belvedere 45, Woodleigh Park
Railway Union 20 UL Bohemians 23, Park Avenue
Tralee 0 St. Mary’s 15, Castleisland
SEMI-FINAL FIXTURES –
Old Belvedere (1st) v UL Bohemians (4th), Anglesea Road
Blackrock (2nd) v Galwegians (3rd), Stradbrook
Meanwhile, it was despair for Railway Union’s talented young squad as following a tight 23-20 defeat to UL Bohemians, they fell to fifth place in the division – just narrowly missing out on reaching the semi-finals in their first season in the top flight.
It was Railway who started brightly, opening the scoring in Sandymount with full-back Claire Ryan dotting down. This was closely followed by a try from her back-line colleague and current Ireland Sevens squad member Stacey Flood, who was playing at outside centre.
At the half hour mark UL Bohs showed their pedigree when Munster representative Ashling Hutchings scored a try from the wing. In the absence of regular place-kicker and Ireland star full-back Niamh Briggs, Molly O’Donnell slotted over the conversion.
In what was an open and entertaining game, Railway then fought back. Their efforts were rewarded with a penalty from the boot of Ryan with less than five minutes left in the half.
The visitors again showed their ruthless nature with inside centre Mairead Kelly scoring a try on the stroke of half-time from a dropped Railway ball in midfield.
UL kept the scoreboard ticking over in the second half courtesy of two O’Donnell penalties. In the final quarter Railway sparked back to their exuberant best with prop Sue Hughes going over for a try. Ryan’s conversion put Railway within three points of Bohs.
The final five minutes were frantic with the hosts being held up twice near the try-line. Terrific composure from Bohemians eventually saw them through to the last-four.
At Crowley Park, Galwegians beat a strong Blackrock side 32-10 courtesy of a first half hat-trick from New Zealand born Sevens ace Sene Naoupu, playing at out-half.
The remainder of the hosts’ points came from full-back Clare Rafferty who scored a try, three conversions and two penalties.
Blackrock finished the league season in second place and will host Galwegians next week at Stradbrook in their semi-final clash.
Table toppers Old Belvedere were back at their imperious best with a 45-0 demolition of Highfield at Woodleigh Park in Cork.
Old Belvedere’s scores included braces from Ireland international Sophie Spence and Leinster back Elise O’Byrne-White. International prop Ailis Egan, Czech-born scrum half Kamila Rousova and utility player Ailis Toner also scored tries.
This latest victory secured ‘Belvo’s place at the summit of the table and a home semi-final against UL Bohs.
In the basement tussle, the two bottom-placed sides Tralee and St. Mary’s played for pride under the floodlights in Castleisland. Mary’s prevailed as 15-0 winners in an extremely physical encounter with tries from Ireland’s Paula Fitzpatrick and Brigid Collins.
Next week the two sides will meet again at Templeville Road in a match that will decide which team gets relegated from Division 1.
– With thanks to photographers Ann Marie Keane and Cian Ryan