Aoife Doyle showed watching Ireland Women’s head coach Greg McWilliams what she can do with a fantastic brace of tries in Railway Union’s 43-8 bonus point win at Old Belvedere.
The first half of the Energia Women’s All-Ireland League wrapped up with a big Dublin derby at Ollie Campbell Park, and it was a much closer contest than the scoreline suggests.
Belvedere made the early running, Clare Gorman threatening before a thunderous carry from Alice O’Dowd set up an opening penalty for Jemma Farrell.
The hosts’ reinforced defence kept Railway out until a superb swerving run from Doyle, in the 25th minute, saw her score from inside her own 22.
The table toppers stung ‘Belvo with two late tries to lead 17-3 at the break, hooker Chloe Blackmore burrowing over before another slick effort from Doyle, who darted clear from 60 metres out with a neat sidestep and a dummy pass.
‘Belvo hit back within three minutes of the restart, good hands from Ailbhe Dowling, Elise O’Byrne-White and Laura Carty releasing Belgian Sevens speedster Manon Nairac for the left corner.
However, Railway were clinical again on the hour mark, a lovely 8-9 move off a scrum seeing Deirdre Roberts put Molly Scuffil-McCabe over for the bonus point score.
Railway reeled off three more tries, Amanda McQuade grabbing the first in the 68th minute. The impressive young prop had a barnstorm break to set up fellow replacement Claire Boles just three minutes later.
McQuade, a proud product of Virginia Rugby Club in Cavan, completed the scoring with two minutes remaining, following up on an Aoife McDermott surge.
Elsewhere, captain Chloe Pearse and Claire Bennett both touched down twice as UL Bohemians swept Suttonians aside on a 43-3 scoreline.
Out-half Nicole Cronin, who finished with 13 points for the Red Robins, bounced out of a tackle to claim their fourth-minute opener.
Suttonians were only 17-0 behind at the break, with captain Lauren Farrell McCabe’s delayed pass putting Jools Aungier darting up into the opposition 22 during their most promising attack.
Prop Pearse reached over from a ruck, and lock Bennett did likewise as UL, whose forwards were dictating play for the most part, took their try tally to three.
Play swung swiftly between both 22s on the restart, before the visitors sealed their bonus point with a muscular carry from Bennett.
Sutts lost the ball in contact and Pearse went on an arcing run in behind the posts. When Niamh Briggs’ side got back on the attack, flanker Clodagh O’Halloran took a great line onto a Muirne Wall pass to crash over for the penultimate try.
Munster captain Sarah Quin duly drove over from close range for Bohs’ seventh touchdown, before Sutts, with Brenda Barr and Nicola Bolger grafting hard up front, got on the board with a closing penalty from Jessica Kelleher.
Boosted by some of their returning Ireland internationals, Blackrock College powered to a 84-0 victory over Ballincollig in the earlier kick-off at Tanner Park.
Recent Ireland cap Maeve Óg O’Leary notched one of their 14 tries, while fellow international Hannah O’Connor tallied up 19 points, including seven conversions.
Hanging out in the wide channel, young flanker O’Leary crossed in the fourth minute after Jackie Shiels’ skip pass and a nice delivery from winger Maeve Liston for the assist.
‘Collig lock Sarah O’Donovan missed out on a try for playing the ball on the ground, before ‘Rock full-back Méabh Deely showed her Sevens speed, breaking from deep, chipping over the top and hacking on to score to the right of the posts.
Ben Martin’s well-drilled squad did not look back from there, Liston charging clear via a scrum won against the head and a 21st-minute bonus point was registered by winger Natasja Behan, who went on to score a hat-trick.
Galwegians sealed a fifth place finish before the mid-season split, with two closing tries from full-back Mairéad Coyne in a 22-7 defeat of Wicklow.
Cooke were 19-10 winners of their derby clash with Malone, props Ilse van Staden and Aishling O’Connell both driving over and in-form number 8 Helen McGhee registering her fourth try in five games.