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Wicklow Lay Down Marker With Historic First Victory

Wicklow Lay Down Marker With Historic First Victory

There were smiles all round at Ashtown Lane where Wicklow opened their win account in the Energia Women's All-Ireland League ©Wicklow RFC

After enduring a baptism of fire in recent weeks, Wicklow made history against Malone on Saturday evening with their first ever All-Ireland League win.


WICKLOW 12 MALONE 7, Ashtown Lane
Scorers: Wicklow: Tries: Ella Roberts, Sarah Gleeson; Con: Beth Roberts
Malone: Try: Neve Jones; Con: Alexa Grudgings
HT: Wicklow 5 Malone 7

Trailing 7-5, a fine touchfinder from Beth Roberts on the hour mark pinned Malone back in their own 22. Further Wicklow pressure retrieved possession and they duly struck for a decisive second try.

Some ground-gaining carries from the home pack chipped away at the Malone defence, before centre Sarah Gleeson spotted a little gap, running in under the posts for the match-winning score.

The game had started well for Malone with their Ireland hooker Neve Jones touching down in the eighth minute.

Leinster starlet Ella Roberts responded for Wicklow eight minutes later, with her younger sister, out-half Beth, going on to have a big influence during a tense second half.

Malone made the most of the elements early on, with a strong wind at their backs. They dominated possession and some sustained pressure yielded Jones’ score, which Alexa Grudgings converted.

However, some great defensive hits from the hosts’ Emily Ryan, Ciara Brennan and Shauna Soady meant that Malone were held scoreless for the remainder.

The home support had something to get really excited about when Lauren Barry and co-captain Amy O’Neill made good metres with ball in hand.

Jason Moreton’s promoted side earned a penalty close to the try-line, and a big carry from player-coach Niamh Ni Dhroma, on her first start at number 8, inched them closer to a first ever AIL score.

There was no denying Roberts in the right corner, as scrum half Erin McConnell provided a quick service from the ruck and the young full-back reached over to close the gap to two points.

The Cregagh Red Sox kept asking questions of the red, white and black defence, who were hesistant to kick the ball giving that they were playing into a significant wind.

The Malone centre pairing of captain Peita McAlister and Jill Stephens looked dangerous when on the ball, but they could not find a way past the Wicklow rearguard, leaving two points in at at the interval.

Turning around with the wind now in their favour, the big boot of Beth Roberts got Wicklow playing in the right areas of the pitch.

The hard-working Gleeson capitalised on this, scoring her all-important try after some good phase play. Number 10 Roberts added the straightforward conversion.

Although Wicklow let their discipline slip at times, a strong defensive finish meant they could celebrate the maiden win of their debut AIL season.

Driven on by key leaders O’Neill, McConnell and Ni Dhroma, they showed great character to see out the result, especially considering the heavy defeats they had experienced during the opening three rounds.

WICKLOW: Ella Roberts; Tammy Breen, Meagan Parkinson, Sarah Gleeson, Naoise O’Reilly; Beth Roberts, Erin McConnell (co-capt); Lauren Barry, Amy O’Neill (co-capt), Kathy Byrne, Shauna Soady, Ciara Brennan, Jessica Schmidt, Emily Ryan, Niamh Ni Dhroma.

Replacements: Robyn Mullen, Laura Newsome, Karen Douglas, Nicola Schmidt, Caitlin Griffey, Orla O’Neill, Katherine Ward.

MALONE: Holly Brannigan; Ella Durkan, Jill Stephens, Peita McAlister (capt), Fern Wilson; Alexa Grudgings, Cara O’Neill; Sarah Murphy, Neve Jones, Chrissie McKee, Jasmine Ward, Amonae Dabbs-Brown, Jo McMorris-Cloughley, Shirelle Wilson, Rebecca Smyth.

Replacements: Ashleigh Currie, Emma Taylor, Erin Jones, Sophie Armstrong.