Strong in the first half and resilient in the second, UL Bohemians maintained their perfect start to the Women’s All-Ireland League season while ruining that of their rivals. Aisling Crowe has a full round-up of Sunday’s action.
WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: Saturday, September 25
COOKE 12 BLACKROCK 27, Shaw’s Bridge
ST. MARY’S 25 HIGHFIELD 17, Templeville Road
UL BOHEMIANS 23 OLD BELVEDERE 12, Annacotty
RAILWAY UNION 8 GALWEGIANS 26, Willow Lodge
Defending champions Old Belvedere made the trip to Limerick in fine scoring form, with a brace of four-try hauls behind them. However, UL Bohemians used every tactic they had in their playbook to keep their Dublin rivals from getting into their scoring stride.
Gillian Bourke put the home team in front with an 11th minute try, converted by Niamh Briggs. The Ireland captain extended her side’s lead with a couple of penalties before Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird pounced on the stroke of half-time for a try that gave UL Bohs a strong lead.
Old Belvedere showed their champions’ mettle in the second half, threatening the try-line with intricate team play and Kathryn Dane struck back for the Dubliners. Marie Louise Reilly slotted over the conversion to reduce the deficit to 18-7 before Nic a Bhaird scored her second try of the game for UL.
Sophie Spence got another try for Old Belvedere but despite their best efforts, the determined hosts kept repelling their attacks on the try-line.
Another of Ireland’s stars made a welcome return to the pitch after injury, Kilcullen woman Jenny Murphy coming on in the second half for ‘Belvo and making an impact with some crunching tackles. She was aided in this by rising star Linda Djougang who made her first start for the team.
The 23-12 victory was not enough for UL Bohs to take over at the top of the table going into the break in fixtures. A 26-8 win for Galwegians away to Railway Union in the later kick-off ensured that the westerners claimed top spot and adds spice to their next game, at home to UL Bohs on Saturday, October 8.
A stirring second half comeback brought Galwegians their third successive triumph of the campaign, but they were made to fight hard for the result by a Railway Union side forced to contend with a number of injuries during the closing 40 minutes.
Railway dominated the opening half and claimed what turned out to be their only try of the match. Canadian international Emma Taylor, using all of her nous gained at the game’s highest level, breached the Galwegians’ defence. Nikki Caughey added a penalty to give them an 8-7 lead at half-time.
Galwegians’ half-back pairing of Mary Healy and Nicole Fowley have attracted the attention of Ireland’s management team with their consistent performances, and it was no surprise that they were behind the westerners’ rejuvenation in the second period.
Healy had scored a try in the first half, converted by Fowley, and the pair exerted their domination on the game in the second half with Fowley adding two tries of her own along with Emma Clery (pictured below) crossing the line to secure the bonus point. Fowley converted three out of the four tries against injury-hit Railway.
Meanwhile, St. Mary’s consigned Highfield to their third defeat of the season (25-17), but crucially for the Dublin outfit, it was their first success of the new term and it was powered by a sensational hat-trick of tries from Ireland star Paula Fitzpatrick.
The talented back rower and sports scientist led the charge for Mary’s in tough, windy conditions which led to an enthralling end-to-end game as both teams tried to use the wind to their advantage in a tactical kicking game.
Mary’s captain Carol Staunton and another of their Ireland contingent, Orla Fitzsimons, added two more tries to Fitzpatrick’s haul. Highfield made Mary’s sweat with a couple of tries of their own but the hosts, who gave former Highfield player Ciara Scanlon her first cap on the wing, had enough in reserve to halt their run of defeats.
Blackrock also moved up the table ahead of the break until round 4 (October 8-9), travelling up to Belfast and defeating Cooke 27-12 at Shaw’s Bridge. It was a much-improved performance by the Dublin side who had managed to score just five points in their first two matches combined.
Victory also elevated them above Cooke in the league standings, moving ‘Rock up to fourth and dropping Grace Davitt’s charges to fifth place.
– Cooke v Blackrock photos by Bob Given Photography
ROUND 4 FIXTURES: Sunday, October 9
Kick-off 1pm unless stated –
GALWEGIANS (1st) v UL BOHEMIANS (2nd), Crowley Park, Saturday, October 8, 4pm
BLACKROCK (4th) v RAILWAY UNION (7th), Stradbrook
HIGHFIELD (8th) v COOKE (5th), Woodleigh Park
OLD BELVEDERE (3rd) v ST. MARY’S (6th), Anglesea Road
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