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Women’s All-Ireland League Round-Up

Women’s All-Ireland League Round-Up

Everything was to play for in this penultimate round of the Women’s All-Ireland League as teams vied to either cement their play-off place or push their way into the top four, writes Kate Rowan.


COOKE 5 BLACKROCK 22, Shaw’s Bridge

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OLD BELVEDERE 88 ST. MARY’S 0, Anglesea Road


The likes of Ireland stalwarts Niamh Briggs, Sophie Spence and Nora Stapleton, as well as new caps Mairead Coyne and Aine Donnelly, all showed their class as they returned to club action a week on from the historic autumn international against England.

Unbeaten leaders Blackrock booked their place in the semi-finals with a well-judged 22-5 win over Cooke. But there was little between the sides during a very evenly-contested first half at Shaw’s Bridge.

Cooke drew first blood in the 15th minute, Ulster full-back Teah Maguire exploiting an overlap after a successful attack off a lineout. Former Ireland international Grace Davitt, playing at out-half, could not add the extras.
Blackrock showed their experience to reply at the 20-minute mark as full-back Amy O’Neill made a terrific run off the back of a scrum to touch down. Newly-capped Ireland international Jeamie Deacon missed the conversion.

It remained 5-5 up to half-time with an unfortunate incident coming just before the interval as Blackrock’s two centres Deacon and Michelle Clafffey clashed heads as they went in to tackle Davitt. Claffey had to be taken off for medical assessment but Deacon played on and scored all of her side’s points in the second half – two tries, two conversions and a penalty.

The penalty goal came in the 45th minutes and the in-form Deacon finished off her tries after 55 and 71 minutes. Cooke had no answer as their lineout faltered and they struggled to build through the phases, with table-topping ‘Rock running out deserved winners.

Reigning champions Old Belvedere climbed into second place and are leading the race to join Blackrock in the semi-finals, following their 88-0 demolition job of an injury-hit St. Mary’s team at Anglesea Road.

The ‘Belvo girls had the bonus point in the bag by the 19th minute and ended up scoring 14 tries in all. Sharon Lynch, who was part of the Ireland squad that finished fourth at last year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup, dazzled with a four-try display.

Fresh from last week’s encounter with England, Sophie Spence and Aine Donnelly both scored hat-tricks against a St. Mary’s side that was missing 11 of their regular matchday squad – including captain Grainne Egan and Ireland international Orla Fitzsimons.
Winger Hazel Rooney, out-half Stapleton, replacement back Amy O’Connor, outside centre Emer O’Malley and replacement back rower Niamh Fitzgerald also contributed tries for Belvedere, who are just ahead of UL Bohemians in the table thanks to a superior scoring difference.
Galwegians earned a crucial 41-17 bonus point triumph over a plucky Queen’s side at Dub Lane in at what was, at times, a rather stop-start affair.

‘Wegians have leapfrogged over Railway Union, who were idle this weekend, into the fourth and final play-off spot with one round remaining. Their strong performance in Belfast included four tries from one of Ireland’s new caps, Mairead Coyne (pictured below), who featured at full-back against the students.

Scrum half Mary Healy, another of Ireland’s rising stars, opened the scoring for the westerners after just eight minutes. However, Queen’s then put on an impressive defensive display with ‘Wegians not scoring again until the half hour mark via Coyne. Tries then came in quick succession from number 8 Edel McMahon and outside centre Nicole Fowley before the close of the first half.
The visitors continued to impress in the second period with Coyne starring with a hat-trick of tries in a 25-minute spell. However, Queen’s showed their determination as Steffi Clarke, Peita McAlister and Portuguese Sevens player Christina Ramos all crossed for tries.
Meanwhile, UL Bohemians put 45 unanswered points on Munster rivals Highfield, including a brace from Ireland captain Niamh Briggs. The Waterford woman touched down in the 30th minute and then ran in a terrific intercept try in the 45th minute.
Bohs also had five-pointers from back rower Chloe Pearse, centre Deirbhile Nic A Bhaird, wingers Kate English and Liz Bourke and Ireland international prop Fiona Hayes. Briggs added five conversions.

The Limerick outfit remain four points off the summit and on course to reach the semi-finals once again. Highfield are third from bottom, just ahead of St. Mary’s and bottom side Queen’s.

A fascinating final round is in prospect next weekend with third-placed UL travelling to Blackrock, fellow play-off rivals Galwegians and Old Belvedere clashing out west and fifth-placed Railway Union, who host Cooke, looking to squeeze back into the top four.

ROUND 9 FIXTURES: Sunday, November 29

Kick-off 1pm unless stated –

HIGHFIELD v QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY, Woodleigh Park, 4pm, Saturday, November 28




Related Links –

Women’s All-Ireland League Results/Fixtures

Women’s All-Ireland League Table