Blackrock and league leaders UL Bohemians will contest next month’s Women’s All-Ireland Cup final after two dramatic last-four clashes with Old Belvedere and Railway Union on Sunday, writes Aisling Crowe.
WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND CUP SEMI-FINALS: Sunday, March 12
OLD BELVEDERE 8 BLACKROCK 10, Anglesea Road
RAILWAY UNION 10 UL BOHEMIANS 10, Sandymount (after extra-time) (UL Bohemians win on ‘first try scored’ ruling)
UL Bohemians got off to the best possible start against Railway Union, Claire McDermott galloping down the wing inside the 22 to touch down for the opening try after just three minutes. The game’s most vital score, as it turned out.
It remained 5-0 to UL until early in the second when Canadian international Emma Taylor, who has starred for Railway Union this season, scored a try of her own to level the game up at five points apiece.
Ireland international Fiona Hayes, who led by example as captain for Bohs, was next over the whitewash, but Taylor, who was part of a very effective Railway back row alongside Juliet Short and Meg Kendall, completed her brace to send the semi-final to extra-time.
The sides could not be separated through 20 minutes of extra-time and both had scored the same amount of tries – two each. So, in accordance with the All-Ireland League rules and regulations, which also apply to the Cup competition, the team that scored the first try (UL) advances to the Cup decider.
UL Bohemians’ John Keane said: “It was a tough game and both teams played really well. We had both conversion attempts bounce off the posts. We will look forward to playing Blackrock in the Cup final in April.”
In the other semi-final encounter, it took a last-gasp try from attacking sensation Eimear Corri to secure a final berth for a resilient Blackrock team at Anglesea Road.
The Portlaoise youngster, who was awarded an entrance scholarship to DCU earlier in the week based on her Leaving Certificate results from 2016, gained possession out wide in the final moments of the match and shrugged off two tackles to touch down for the decisive try.
Blackrock winger Ali Coleman had burst down the left flank for the opening try near the corner, after speedy passing among the visitors’ backs. However, before the half-time whistle was blown, Rosin O’Donnell was perfectly placed to end multiple Old Belvedere phases with the levelling try.
Belvedere had one foot in the final with five minutes to go as a penalty from Ireland international Aine Donnelly gave the hosts an 8-5 lead, but they reckoned without the fleet-footed Corri who had the final say for ‘Rock.
Joshua Brown, coach of the victorious Blackrock side, said: “We are delighted to be in the final. The girls put in a valiant effort and gave it 100%. They left everything on the pitch and kept their composure when Old Belvedere attacked.
“They stuck to their game-plan and worked right till the very end, showing great heart. We have a month to prepare for the game and we are going to give it everything.”
For Ruth McElroy of Old Belvedere, only the bitterly familiar taste of repeated mistakes could be discerned on her palate. “We snatched defeat from the jaws of victory for the third time in a row. The difference between winning and losing is so miniscule and this was a hard, tough game which it always is against Blackrock,” she said.