Blackrock College and reigning champions Railway Union will contest the Energia Women’s All-Ireland League final in just under two weeks’ time.
Impressive bonus point victories on the road saw Blackrock and Railway reach the TG4-televised decider on Saturday, February 26, with a round to spare.
Ben Martin’s ‘Rock side ran out 44-5 winners at Old Belvedere, good passes from Aoibheann Reilly and Aoife Wafer releasing Maeve Liston for a 10th-minute opener out wide.
Dorothy Wall’s break set up Maggie Boylan for the second score five minutes later, but Belvedere, with Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird to the fore, hit back on the stroke of half-time when Vic Dabanovich O’Mahony drove over in the right corner.
Blackrock went up the gears in the second half, though, with captain Michelle Claffey crossing after Lisa Mullen’s lovely offload out of a tackle.
Wall pinched turnover ball for Katie Fitzhenry’s bonus point score, and ‘Rock added four more tries during the closing 25 minutes.
The ever-industrious Wall showed her Sevens-honed speed on a 60-metre run-in, Claffey and Boylan completed their braces, and a clever run and offload from Claffey put scrum half Reilly over in the 73rd minute.
A five-try first half salvo got the job done for Railway away to UL Bohemians, with winger Aoife Doyle touching down twice in a 31-14 win.
With the wind behind them, Railway quickly got on the scoreboard through captain Niamh Byrne and Doyle. Byrne’s classy break and pass led to a 15th minute try for Lindsay Peat, under the posts.
Bohs were unable to get their hands on the ball, and taking a nice line off a scrum, Limerick woman Doyle broke past Enya Breen to scamper in for the bonus point try.
Muirne Wall used a quick tap penalty to get UL off the mark, but Ireland Sevens star Eve Higgins replied for Railway before the interval, leaving four defenders for dead with a brilliant burst of pace and deft sidestepping.
A sustained spell of pressure saw UL captain Chloe Pearse power over in the 50th minute, closing the gap to 17 points, but Railway’s strong defence frustrated the Red Robins for the remainder of the game.
Suttonians sealed their place in the Conference final, young centre Kate Farrell McCabe, who returned from Ireland Sevens duty, starring with four tries in their 34-22 triumph over Ballincollig.
Galwegians captain Mairéad Coyne claimed a brace of tries in a runaway 41-0 victory over Malone, while Ireland Sevens captain Lucy Mulhall had a successful debut with Wicklow, who edged out Cooke 22-17.
Quick ball from a scrum was fed into midfield where Coyne burst through for the opening score at Crowley Park, before Ursula Sammon thundered clear of three defenders for a fine individual try, also converted by Emma Keane.
After ‘Wegians won a scrum against the head, Coyne tied in two defenders and flicked a pass away for Saskia Morrissey to score.
Centre Megan Walsh was the fourth member of the hosts’ back-line to get over the whitewash, charging through following a turnover on the edge of the Malone 22.
The rain made for a tighter second half, but Niamh O’Grady crashed over from close range, Coyne crossed again from her own kick through and second row Grace Browne Moran rounded off the scoring from a crisp line of passes.
Jarrad Butler’s Blue Belles have climbed back into second place, sitting two points above Ballincollig. The two teams meet in Glenina next Saturday in what is effectively a play-off to decide who joins Sutts in the final.
Meanwhile, it was celebration time again for Wicklow in Belfast – they overcome Malone recently for their first ever away AIL win – as Ella Roberts’ bonus point try in the final play saw them prevail at Shaw’s Bridge.