As the Women’s All-Ireland League kicked off on Sunday, some of Ireland’s star internationals such as Niamh Briggs, Sophie Spence, Ailis Egan, Nora Stapleton and Tania Rosser drove their respective clubs to opening wins, while a number of up and coming players also made their mark. Kate Rowan rounds up the action.
WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: Sunday, September 20
ROUND 1 RESULTS –
OLD BELVEDERE 26 HIGHFIELD 7, Anglesea Road
UL BOHEMIANS 6 RAILWAY UNION 3, Annacotty
QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY 0 BLACKROCK 89, Dub Lane
ST. MARY’S 20 GALWEGIANS 12, Templeville Road
Defending league champions Old Belvedere got off to a flying start against a dogged Highfield side as Leinster’s Janice Daly Morrissey, playing at full-back, dotted down in the corner after some great play from out-half Nora Stapleton, who then nailed the difficult conversion.
Despite some impressive tackling efforts from Highfield props Niamh English and Amy Desmond, Old Belvedere’s scrum – driven by Ireland tighthead Ailis Egan – dominated and created a series of attacking opportunities. Their second try came courtesy of lock Roisin O’Donnell in the 27th minute and again Stapleton added the extras.
Highfield applied pressure in the closing ten minutes of the first half and early in the second period, but failed to make this count on the scoreboard as the hosts showed great composure in defence. Strong carrying from O’Donnell and Sophie Spence set up Egan to power over the whitewash for a 50th minute try.
Highfield opened their scoring account in the 66th minute with winger Laura Sheehan touching. Impressive young Munster scrum half Ellen Murphy converted. However, with current World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year nominee Spence replying just four minutes later, ‘Belvo coasted to a four-try 26-7 win.
Niamh Briggs, a 2014 nominee for that World Rugby honour, featured at out-half for UL Bohemians and had a pivotal role in their 6-3 victory over a gutsy, injury-depleted Railway Union outfit in horrendous conditions as torrential rain fell over Annacotty.
Ireland captain Briggs kicked her side’s only points of the match from two first half penalties. Despite the visitors clawing back three points via the boot of full-back Claire Ryan, Bohs hung on for a hard-fought triumph.
Blackrock ran riot when scoring 13 tries against Queen’s University, who had only been able to field a team of 14 players at Dub Lane. Seven of the tries came from full-back Aoife Tyrrell, while number 8 Carmela Morey and outside centre Carrie Hanley touched down in their first competitive outings since both gave birth to baby girls earlier this year.
Veteran Ireland international Tania Rosser, tighthead prop Joanne Malone and wingers Clare Owens and Clodagh Dunne also crossed the whitewash in a stunning 89-0 success. Inside centre Jeamie Deacon had an excellent day with the boot, only missing one of the 13 conversions.
Meanwhile, at Templeville Road, it was something of a dogfight between hosts St. Mary’s and Galwegians in a set piece and forwards-dominated game. The hosts had first half scores from Ireland-capped back rower Carol Staunton and full-back Gillian Dufficy, who has played inter-county Ladies Gaelic football for Roscommon.
Galwegians number 8 Emma Clery broke through to score on the stroke of half-time. The visitors immediately increased the tempo after the interval and scrum half Mary Healy crossed for a try inside 10 seconds.
However, when ex-Galwegian Staunton broke from a 60th minute lineout to run in from halfway, beating three defenders along the way, the tide turned in St. Mary’s favour at 17-12. A Saidhbhe O’Riordan penalty sealed the result for the Dubliners.
ROUND 2 FIXTURES: Sunday, September 27
Kick-off 1pm unless stated –
BLACKROCK v OLD BELVEDERE, Stradbrook
COOKE v UL BOHEMIANS, Shaw’s Bridge
HIGHFIELD v ST. MARY’S, Woodleigh Park
RAILWAY UNION v QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY, Park Avenue
Related Links –