As they gear up for the top-four round robin series after Christmas, second-placed UL Bohemians went on to dominate the second half of their Munster derby clash with Ballincollig.
ENERGIA WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: Saturday, December 4
UL BOHEMIANS 64 BALLINCOLLIG 5, UL Arena
Scorers: UL Bohemians: Tries: Alana McInerney 3, Sarah Quin 2, Aoife Corey, Rachel Allen, Chloe Pearse, Clodagh O’Halloran 2; Cons: Nicole Cronin 5, Rachel Allen 2
Ballincollig: Try: Heather Kennedy
HT: UL Bohemians 24 Ballincollig 0
Young winger Alana McInerney weighed in with a hat-trick of tries – taking her season’s haul in the Energia Women’s All-Ireland League to five – in Bohs’ 64-5 dismissal of Ballincollig.
Fiona Hayes’ ‘Collig kept battling right to the end, something which will serve them well in the upcoming Conference competition. They had a late consolation score from centre Heather Kennedy.
Nicole Cronin ran back a kick to create the first try-scoring opportunity, evading a couple of defenders and connecting with Aoibhinn O’Loughlin who was well-tackled into touch by Ballincollig scrum half Gemma Lane.
However, UL pinched the resulting lineout and worked the ball wide to the right where McInerney finished well for an unconverted second-minute score.
Co-captain Gillian Coombes ripped back possession from the restart for Ballincollig, and she followed up with a turnover at the breakdown soon after as they enjoyed their first bit of territory.
Lane enjoyed a snipe along the right wing, forcing a penalty and then picking up 10 more metres as Bohs had not retreated the required distance.
Despite another quick tap from a penalty, five metres out, ‘Collig emerged without reward as Bohs captain Chloe Pearse was well-positioned to win a clearing penalty at the breakdown.
Using first-phase possession from a scrum, centre Stephanie Nunan glided out to the left wing and looked destined for a try until the Ballincollig cover wrestled her into touch, a few metres out.
Nonetheless, ‘Collig knocked on off the lineout and Bohs used the resulting five-metre scrum to double their lead. Number 8 Sarah Quin broke from the base and was unstoppable, with Cronin’s conversion making it 12-0.
Ballincollig built well in response, Michelle Stafford, co-captain Clodagh Walsh and Naoise Murray all gaining ground before a penalty had them back into the UL 22. Claire Bennett stole the resulting lineout, though.
With Bohs leaking more penalties, ‘Collig kept hammering away in the hosts’ 22 before full-back Orla Creedon ran out of room near the right corner flag.
UL also had nothing to show for a tremendous break from deep by centre Nunan, and a few phases later, Sarah O’Donovan clamped down on the ball to win a penalty for Hayes’ charges.
With eight minutes left before half-time, Cronin showed her class, ghosting in between two forwards, 35 metres out, stepping away from Creedon and flicking a pass – just as Lane closed – behind her for Rachel Allen to score behind the posts.
The try, converted by Cronin herself, had the home crowd oohing, and the Red Robins squeezed in a bonus point before half-time.
Out-half Cronin again darted through a gap to build the initial momentum and the forwards took over, Quin crossing from close range to complete her brace and leave ‘Collig with a 24-point deficit.
‘Collig centre Kennedy showed her running ability late in the first half, making one memorable burst up to the UL 22. She was lively again on the resumption, using her pace out wide on two occasions.
As good as Quin’s next carry was, Ballincollig prop Roisin Ormond returned the favour with a superb charge from a quick tap. Crucially though, the hosts were able to keep them away from their try-line.
McInerney restarted the scoring for Bohs, who won a scrum against the head and used the penalty to attack out wide. The winger tidied up a loose ball and accelerated past six defenders to make it 31-0.
UL full-back Aoife Corey showed good strength to grab a try in the left corner, before replacement Fiona Reidy piled over from a couple of metres out after a monster maul from the home pack.
Cronin converted and then backs and forwards combined neatly before flanker Clodagh O’Halloran crossed, with centre Allen’s conversion racking up the 50 points.
There was still time for McInerney and Pearse to take Bohs’ try haul to ten in the end, although ‘Collig hit back through Kennedy, who was their most threatening runner and deservedly got on the scoresheet.
UL BOHEMIANS: Aoife Corey; Alana McInerney, Stephanie Nunan, Rachel Allen, Aoibhinn O’Loughlin; Nicole Cronin, Louise Costello; Chloe Pearse (capt), Kate Sheehan, Eilis Cahill, Claire Bennett, Sarah Garrett, Clodagh O’Halloran, Lily Brady, Sarah Quin.
Replacements: Fiona Reidy, Michelle Ring, Ciara O’Halloran, Abbie Salter-Townshend, Claire O’Brien.
BALLINCOLLIG: Orla Creedon; Michelle Stafford, Heather Kennedy, Mona Fehily, Ellen O’Keeffe; Kelly Griffin, Gemma Lane; Naoise Murray, Clodagh Walsh (co-capt), Roisin Ormond, Sarah O’Donovan, Gillian Coombes (co-capt), Eimear Perryman, Niamh O’Regan, Denise Redmond.
Replacements: Aoife Flynn, Olivia Hay Mulvihill, Roisin Long, Alix Cunneen, Aine Dunniece.