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Women’s All-Ireland League Round-Up

Women’s All-Ireland League Round-Up

A draw and three close encounters helped to create a thrilling afternoon of Women’s All-Ireland League action yesterday, writes Kate Rowan.


HIGHFIELD 12 COOKE 15, Woodleigh Park
ST. MARY’S 17 QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY 24, Templeville Road
Some entertaining and high quality rugby was played across all four league fixtures despite the absence of many of Ireland’s household names who played against England on Saturday afternoon.
League leaders Blackrock still remain unbeaten but they were held to a 5-all draw by a feisty Railway Union team at Stradbrook. In an extremely physical clash, both sides showed their defensive prowess in windy conditions.
Blackrock’s Carrie Hanley made the switch to inside centre due to the inclusion of Jeamie Deacon in Ireland’s starting line up on Saturday. She showed her class in defence and also struck for a well-taken 38th minute try. Her centre partner Michelle Claffey missed the conversion.
Railway were missing seven first choice players due to both the Fifteens and Sevens international fare over the weekend. However, 20-year-old lock Kate McCarthy, in just her third senior All-Ireland League game, fitted in seamlessly into the second row berth vacated by Ireland new cap Ciara Cooney.

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McCarthy’s work-rate and tackle count helped Railway to nullify Blackrock’s attacking threat, and the visitors’ outside centre, Ireland Sevens international Martina McCarthy (pictured above), duly dotted down with less than ten minutes left on the clock. Full-back Claire Ryan was unable to convert.

Referee Sue Carty had her hands full during the closing minutes and Railway prop Aoife Maher was yellow carded in the 76th minute. However, Blackrock had to settle for a draw due to more resolute defence from the visitors. The ‘Rock girls remain top of the table, three points clear of Railway with a game in hand.

Galwegians’ home match with UL Bohemians had to be moved from a waterlogged Crowley Park to the 4G pitch at the University of Limerick. Despite effectively losing home advantage, the women from the west dazzled in the first half, scoring four tries to Bohs’ one from full-back Kate English.

‘Wegians winger Noreen Coyne – sister of newly-capped Ireland international Mairead – scored the opening try with four minutes gone. Keeping up the link with the international side, scrum half Mary Healy, who made her Ireland debut off the bench on Saturday, dotted down in the 18th minute.
Just minutes later, former Railway Union player Nicole Fowley crossed the whitewash for ‘Wegians and the bonus point was secured with a Siobhan Daly effort just before half-time.

In true ‘game of two halves’ style, UL Bohs sparked back into life with four second half tries, including a neatly-finished brace from winger Liz Burke and one apiece from Ireland international prop Fiona Hayes and number 8 Chloe Pearse.
With the match poised at 25-20 in favour of the Limerick girls, centre Emma Clery got over the line to bring ‘Wegians level. Up to that point in the match, every conversion attempt had been missed due to the blustery conditions. However, Clare Rafferty (pictured below) proved to be Galwegians’ heroine when she nailed the conversion to seal a hard-fought 27-25 victory.

However, thanks to the losing bonus point, UL Bohs have pushed above defending champions Old Belvedere, who had a bye this week, into third place in the standings.
St. Mary’s were left stunned by a spirited Queen’s University performance which saw the Belfast outfit claim their first win of the campaign – 24-17. The Queen’s points came courtesy of a penalty try and tries scored by back rower Gemma McCutcheon and wingers Katy Lemon and Sarah Gibson, with two conversions from Ulster out-half Jemma Jackson.
The hosts’ tries were scored by hooker and captain Emma Kiernan, who bagged a brace, and winger Niamh Connolly. Centre Saidhbhe O’Riordan kicked one conversion. However, due to Mary’s picking up a losing bonus point, Queen’s remain bottom of the table.

After making the long journey to Cork, Cooke claimed a 15-12 win over Highfield thanks in part to a strong two-try performance from former Ireland international Eliza Downey (pictured above), who scored in both halves.
Cooke’s other try came off the back of tremendous work from the back of the scrum by number 8 Brigid Collins. She linked up with scrum half Shannon Davidson who touched down for the five points.
Highfield’s two tries both came in the second half through Grace Sweetnam and Eilish Foley, who scored in the final play with Ellen Murphy adding the extras. Cooke and Highfield remain sixth and seventh respectively ahead of the final two rounds.

ROUND 8 FIXTURES: Sunday, November 22

Kick-off 1pm unless stated –

COOKE v BLACKROCK, Shaw’s Bridge




Related Links –

Women’s All-Ireland League Fixtures

Women’s All-Ireland League Table