There were tries aplenty in the 11th round of the Women’s All-Ireland League this weekend. Cooke, Railway Union, Old Belvedere and UL Bohemians all recorded big bonus point wins and ran in scores from all angles, writes Michael Gallagher.
WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – ROUND 11: Sunday, January 28
COOKE 34 HIGHFIELD 5, Shaw’s Bridge
Cooke made it back-to-back home wins to cement their place in the top four – a full 17 points clear of Blackrock in fifth. Jemma Jackson booted two early penalties to get the Belfast side on the board, and they duly opened their try account having stayed on the front foot and barely left the Highfield 22.
Possession via another penalty award was snapped back on the blindside, giving powerful prop Ilse van Staden the chance to get over the whitewash and leave it 11-0 at the break. Jackson’s third successful penalty opened the scoring in the second half, followed by some excellent interplay and van Staden’s second try out wide.
The hosts were clearly on top at that stage and pushed on with Emma Jordan and Vicky Irwin both dotting down. Highfield hit back with a try of their own in the final quarter, but Cooke had the final say when Cavan dual-status player Dolores Hughes crashed over out wide. Cooke’s confidence will be up for next week’s All-Ireland Cup match against the same opposition.
RAILWAY UNION 48 BLACKROCK 0, Park Avenue
Railway Union cut loose on home turf to put south Dublin rivals Blackrock to the sword in a 48-0 whitewash. The home side ran in eight tries and dominated the encounter from the first whistle to last in a performance full of free-flowing rugby.
Ireland Sevens international Niamh Byrne crossed for two tries while Emma Taylor, Aoife Maher, Siobhan McCarthy, Sinead Taylor, Meaghan Kenny and Emer O’Mahony scored one apiece. Sinead Taylor added four conversions while Railway’s miserly defence also prevented ‘Rock from scoring.
This was an terrific display from second-placed Railway and the return of Sinead Taylor to the starting XV was instrumental in their success. The Irish Army captain’s kicking was excellent and her pace caused the ‘Rock defenders all sorts of problems. Blackrock will be very disappointed with their all-round performance and will go back to the basics on the training pitch this week.
TULLAMORE 0 OLD BELVEDERE 36, Spollanstown
There was a swagger in the step of Old Belvedere as they left Spollanstown with all five points following a 36-0 victory. The Dubliners blitzed bottom side Tullamore and produced some spectacular rugby in a game in which the hosts never really got out of the blocks.
Belvedere were almost constantly on the front foot with the excellent Ellen Murphy putting Tullamore under pressure and guiding her team-mates into the right areas of the pitch where they could execute their attacking plays.
Murphy was backed up impressively by full-back Elise O’Byrne-White whose fast counter-attacking play won a lot of yards. Hooker Jennie Finlay’s efficient work around the fringes also caught the eye as she cleaned up around the rucks in both attack and defence.
Honourable mention must also go to noted flanker Linda Djougang who impressed for the entire 80 minutes at loosehead prop. She showed a lot of potential going forward and it was hard to believe this was her first day playing in the front row.
‘Belvo head coach Josh Brown was delighted with the performance and results, saying: “It’s always a positive to have a clean sheet and we achieved that today. We implemented our defensive systems well in preparation for our upcoming clash with Railway Union (on February 17).”
O’Byrne-White led the scoring with two tries, while Steph Barman and Jane O’Neill also crossed the whitewash. The winners also got a penalty try when a well-executed kick-through from Nora Stapleton sent Jenny Murphy racing through but just as she was about to drop on the ball, she was tackled and the referee had no option but to award the score.
GALWEGIANS 5 UL BOHEMIANS 53, University of Limerick 4G pitch
Can anyone stop UL Bohemians? That is the question being asked after the defending champions and current table toppers blazed a path past Galwegians, winning 53-5 in the end. The match was moved from Galway to Limerick due to poor weather in the city of the tribes and Bohemians made full use of their home facilities.
The Red Robins ran in nine tries in a game which was much more competitive and physical than the final scoreline suggests. Aine Staunton and Laura Sheehan both recorded memorable hat-tricks while Gillian Bourke, Edel Murphy and Erin Coll also crossed the whitewash.
This was a tremendous display of rugby from the title holders and reinforces their drive to keep the league trophy in the mid-west. Galwegians will be very disappointed with such a heavy defeat and would have been closer but for some excellent, aggressive defensive play from UL who held up their opponents on the try-line on a number of occasions.
– Railway Union v Blackrock photos by Christine Taylor
– Galwegians v UL Bohemians photos by Colbert O’Sullivan
WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – ROUND 12 FIXTURES:
Thursday, February 8 –
BLACKROCK (5th) v OLD BELVEDERE (3rd), Stradbrook, 8pm (rescheduled from round 10)
Saturday, February 17 –
OLD BELVEDERE (3rd) v RAILWAY UNION (2nd), Anglesea Road, 5pm
Sunday, February 18 –
BLACKROCK (5th) v GALWEGIANS (6th), Stradbrook, 1pm
HIGHFIELD (7th) v TULLAMORE (8th), Woodleigh Park, 1pm
UL BOHEMIANS (1st) v COOKE (4th), University of Limerick 4G pitch, 1pm
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