Eimear Considine was UL Bohemians’ ‘super sub’ at Blackrock College, breaking a tackle to run in a last-gasp try in the match of the round at Stradbrook.
ENERGIA WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: Saturday, November 27
BLACKROCK COLLEGE 16 UL BOHEMIANS 17, Stradbrook
Scorers: Blackrock College: Tries: Tess Meade, Laura Feely; Pens: Lisa Mullen 2
UL Bohemians: Tries: Chloe Pearse, Alana McInerney, Eimear Considine; Con: Nicole Cronin
HT: Blackrock College 0 UL Bohemians 5
Nicole Cronin’s conversion from straight in front sealed a 17-16 victory for Niamh Briggs’ Bohs, who are level on 29 points with Railway Union at the top of the table.
It was two tries apiece up to that point, captain Chloe Pearse and Alana McInerney both touching down for Bohs in their first Energia Women’s All-Ireland League outing since October 23.
Blackrock replied through Tess Meade and Laura Feely, with a second Lisa Mullen penalty putting them in a winning position late on.
It was not to be for Ben Martin’s side, their five-match winning run in the league coming to an end but they remain well-positioned in fourth place.
Blackrock had the wind behind them in the first half, a cagey opening seeing Cronin and Mullen both probe with the boot while defences were very much top.
Blackrock flanker Caoimhe Molloy ripped the ball away in a strong tackle, before Cronin did likewise a couple of phases later as a red-hot battle for possession developed on a very cold November evening.
The hosts had the better of territory, despite Munster captain Sarah Quin forcing a turnover penalty. But when they got within scoring range, Bohs flanker Sarah Garrett stole a lineout.
Mairead Holohan returned the favour, pinching a lineout on the ‘Rock 22, and some more good work at the breakdown set up a 26th-minute penalty chance. Unfortunately for the vocal home support, Mullen missed the target.
A power-packed lineout drive took UL from the edge of their 22 to halfway, they pressed again after a loose clearance kick from Blackrock full-back Valerie Power and built up a brilliant head of steam.
Ten phases of hard carrying and some nice width ended with out-half Cronin releasing skipper Pearse on an excellent line to score to the right of the posts.
Cronin, who missed the conversion, kept Bohs playing in the right areas approaching half-time, although Maggie Boylan, ‘Rock’s leading try scorer, went close to an interception on halfway.
There was little between the sides during the third quarter, ‘Rock ramping up the pressure when Emma Hooban broke menacingly off a maul to bring play up into the Red Robins’ 22.
Hooker Hooban then increased her influence by picking up scrappy lineout possession and barging up to five metres out. The momentum allowed flanker Meade to rumble over in impressive fashion.
Jackie Shiels dropped the conversion short, leaving this top-four duel tantalisingly poised at five points apiece with just over 20 minutes remaining.
An excellent break by ‘Rock captain Michelle Claffey, who got away from Cronin and Considine, saw her send Shiels up close to the try-line. Mullen knocked over a subsequent penalty for an 8-5 lead.
The scores were coming thick and fast now, Mullen having a kick partially blocked by Pearse. Bohs needed no second invitation as replacement Ciara O’Halloran showed good hands to set up a chance on the right wing.
Openside Clodagh O’Halloran combined with centre Rachel Allen to send McInerney haring down the right wing and she managed to get away from Power’s clutches for a fine finish out wide.
The conversion squeezed wide by Cronin, Blackrock were 10-8 behind but not for long. Holohan’s rip in a tackle allowed Meade to gobble up possession and the hosts began to punch some holes again.
Claffey and Eimear Corri both carried with great intent, drawing ‘Rock up close to the line before Ireland prop Feely drove over by the right corner flag, aided by Boylan’s latch.
Martin’s charges came forward again, led by Boylan and Claffey, and the left-footed Mullen punished a UL offside with a lovely strike to establish a 16-10 advantage.
However, disaster struck for ‘Rock, just when they thought they had survived as Pearse knocked on with the try-line at her mercy and then Clodagh O’Halloran was held up.
Bohs’ persistence paid off as a missed tackle allowed Ireland star Considine to slalom through from outside the 22 for a dramatic match winner. Their celebrations were a mix of relief and joy after Cronin added the extras.
BLACKROCK COLLEGE: Valerie Power; Maggie Boylan, Michelle Claffey (capt), Jackie Shiels, Kate Cullen; Lisa Mullen, Niamh Griffin; Laura Feely, Emma Hooban, Christy Haney, Mairead Holohan, Eimear Corri, Caoimhe Molloy, Tess Meade, Casey O’Brien.
Replacements: Meadhbh O’Callaghan, Niamh Tester, Hannah Hodges, Roisin McWey, Caoimhe O’Callaghan, Laura Delaney.
UL BOHEMIANS: Aoife Corey; Alana McInerney, Stephanie Nunan, Rachel Allen, Aoibhinn O’Loughlin; Nicole Cronin, Muirne Wall; Chloe Pearse (capt), Kate Sheehan, Eilis Cahill, Claire Bennett, Eva McCormack, Sarah Garrett, Clodagh O’Halloran, Sarah Quin.
Replacements: Lily Brady, Michelle Ring, Claire O’Brien, Ciara O’Halloran, Eimear Considine, Abbie Salter-Townshend.