Galwegians made it back-to-back victories in the Energia Women’s All-Ireland League, with young replacement Faith Oviawe having a dream debut during the second half at Shaw’s Bridge.
ENERGIA WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: Saturday, October 30
COOKE 7 GALWEGIANS 47, Shaw’s Bridge
Scorers: Cooke: Try: Helen McGhee; Con: Amanda Morton
Galwegians: Tries: Mairead Coyne, Megan Walsh, Fiona Scally, Faith Oviawe, Elizabeth McNicholas, Ursula Sammon, Laoise McGonagle; Cons: Emma Keane 6
HT: Cooke 7 Galwegians 19
Having conceded an early Helen McGhee score, ‘Wegians hammered back with two fine individual efforts from Mairead Coyne and Megan Walsh, as well as a close-range try from flanker Fiona Scally.
Out-half Emma Keane tagged on two conversions for a 19-7 half-time lead, and it got even better for the Blue Belles when Oviawe, who first came to prominence with the Connacht Under-18s two years ago, romped clear for a try with her very first touch.
Keane converted all four second half tries, the closing three coming from replacement Elizabeth Nicholas, the strong-running Ursula Sammon and Laoise McGonagle, who wrapped up the scoring in the last minute.
Coming on the back of last week’s home win over Suttonians, this result lifts Jarrad Butler’s side up to sixth in the table. Cooke have fallen to ninth following a second successive heavy loss in Belfast.
Daniel Allen’s charges showed some early promise with Naomi McCord and Dolores Hughes both making good yards, and their dominance of possession was rewarded with an eighth minute try.
They worked an overlap on the right and number 8 McGhee finished smartly, with out-half Amanda Morton lofting over the conversion in confident fashion.
However, Cooke were stunned on the quarter hour mark by Coyne’s leveller. She collected a clearance kick, put the ball skywards from halfway and with the hosts dithering, the ball bounced and sat up invitingly for the onrushing full-back to collect and race over from the edge of the 22.
Keane converted from straight in front, and a turnover penalty from openside Lisa-Marie Murphy got Galwegians on the front foot, early in the second quarter.
Play swung quickly between both halves, Cooke winning a scrum penalty before Murphy got in to disrupt again and force a penalty at the breakdown.
After a Cooke move broke down on the ‘Wegians’ 10-metre line, Georgia Boyce managed to keep the ball in play but the ever-alert Walsh pinched it under the nose of Teah Maguire and set off on a brilliant solo run for try number two.
The Connemara RFC product showed a clean pair of heels to five defenders on her 70-metre run-in. Keane missed the conversion, but ‘Wegians soon retrieved another well-placed Coyne kick to get back on the attack.
Following a couple of quickly-taken penalties, blindside Scally burst onto a pass and took a couple of defenders with her over the line. Keane converted with the last kick of the half.
Less than two minutes after the restart, ‘Wegians worked lineout ball into midfield and a nicely delayed pass put Oviawe storming clear from halfway. The talented lock/back rower used her fend and pace to beat three defenders along the way.
The conversion from Keane made it 26-7 and Cooke had it all to do. Coral Lapsley and Tamzin Boyce made some good defensive reads, but Oviawe was soon barging back towards the hosts’ 22.
With Cooke losing lineouts past halfway and back in their own 22, ‘Wegians used the possession intelligently, carrying up close before McNicholas burrowed over from a metre out for Keane to convert.
33-7 became 40-7 just a short while later, Cooke paying the price for missed tackles as centre Sammon cut through past five defenders on a powerful run from the hosts’ 10-metre line.
The sight of the scrum-capped McCord striding towards the ‘Wegians 22 was a welcome sight for the Belfast outfit, only for turnovers to again prove costly for Cooke.
‘Wegians were deadly accurate once more on the counter, working the ball wide for winger McGonagle to cross to the left of the posts. Keane’s well-struck conversion completed her own 12-point tally.
COOKE: Teah Maguire; Tamzin Boyce, Coral Lapsley, Dolores Hughes, Georgia Boyce; Amanda Morton, Beth Cregan; Ilse van Staden, Megan Simpson, Aishling O’Connell (capt), Caolinn McCormack, Sorcha Mac Laimhin, Naomi McCord, Katie Hetherington, Helen McGhee.
Replacements: Fiona McCaughan, Cara McKevitt, India Daley, Eimear McQuillan.
GALWEGIANS: Mairead Coyne; Saskia Morrissey, Megan Walsh, Ursula Sammon, Laoise McGonagle; Emma Keane, Mary Healy (capt); Ellen Connolly, Tracy Lawlor, Jessica Loftus, Celia Killilea, Niamh O’Grady, Fiona Scally, Lisa-Marie Murphy, Kate Feehan.
Replacements: Ruby Lynch, Elizabeth McNicholas, Kiara Irwin, Sabina Egan, Faith Oviawe, Darwyn O’Halloran, Ines Delgado.