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Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division: Round 6 Review

Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division: Round 6 Review

Ballincollig's Eimear Perryman competes for a lineout with Sarah Garrett, one of UL Bohemians' try scorers ©INPHO/James Crombie

A three-try second half salvo ensured Blackrock College won the battle of the unbeaten teams as they overhauled Old Belvedere to win 19-10 at Ollie Campbell Park.

In Pics: Ballincollig And UL Bohs Clash In Rain-Hit Munster Derby

Ben Martin’s charges trailed 7-0 at half-time at Ollie Campbell Park, a dummying Dannah O’Brien, the Energia All-Ireland League’s top points scorer, sniping over for a try midway through the first half.

O’Brien kicked a penalty in response to a Natasja Behan try, but Blackrock crossed through Mairead Holohan (60 minutes) and Méabh Deely (75) to secure a hard-fought victory which puts them within a point of the summit.

When the ball fell off the tee at her first penalty attempt, Old Belvedere starlet O’Brien showed her quick thinking to embark on a run and almost create a try out wide for fellow Ireland cap Emma Tilly.

Blackrock’s defence stood firm, but an Elaine Anthony lineout steal and a subsequent break by Aoife Dalton had Belvedere hunting down the opening score once again.

Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird was a real livewire, taking a quick tap and also doing well to secure possession a couple of phases later. O’Brien spotted her chance, slashing through to touch down from close range after dummying a pass to Jenny Murphy.

Following the conversion from the Tullow youngster, Blackrock began to get more ball with Enya Breen ripping it back in a tackle. A Tatum Bird interception led to replacement Maeve Liston being put into some space out wide.

However, it was Old Belvedere who should have been further ahead. O’Brien knocked a penalty wide but continued to impress in open play, throwing a superb one-handed offload behind her back to Niamh O’Dowd.

Belvedere’s aggressive defending kept the seven-point gap in place, a Nic a Bhaird turnover penalty closing out of a breathless first half. O’Brien began the second period with a narrow penalty miss.

Eimear Corri, who had stolen an earlier lineout, ignited the Blackrock attack with a break from deep. Six minutes in, Belvedere lost flanker Lesley Ring to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on.

Suddenly, ‘Rock flooded forward, Breen charging up into the 22 via Lisa Mullen’s inside pass. Quick recycling paved the way for captain Michelle Claffey to send out a long skip pass and Behan finished smartly in the left corner.

Belvedere scrambled well to smother out a Holohan break and just before Ring returned to the pitch, Blackrock suffered a yellow of their own when busy hooker Emma Hooban was guilty of a late no-arms tackle on O’Brien.

‘Belvo’s teenage out-half punished some hands in the ruck to make it 10-5, but Blackrock began the final quarter with a terrific surge. It all started with Ali Coleman’s show-and-go and her releasing of Liston from halfway.

Despite being brought down by a combination of O’Brien and Aine Donnelly, the Ireland Sevens international popped up a peach of an offload for the supporting Holohan to go in under the posts.

Deely tapped over the conversion to put the visitors ahead for the first time at 12-10. Although Ring pinched lineout possession for ‘Belvo, the injury-enforced departure of skipper Murphy was a big loss.

Prop O’Dowd was central to earning turnover ball from a Blackrock maul, and the ferocious scrap for possession continued past the 70-minute mark with Vic Dabanovich O’Mahony and Beth Cregan trading turnovers.

Replacement Jackie Shiels then pinned Belvedere back with a well-placed kick, a knock-on giving ‘Rock a scrum in the opposition 22 and they were clinical through the next five phases.

The home defence was sucked in sufficiently enough, a neat line of passes from Bird, Corri, Shiels and Liston sending Deely sliding over in the right corner. The Ballinasloe native added a classy conversion as the rain came down heavily.

Meanwhile, Railway Union are the new table toppers after beating Galwegians in convincing fashion in Glenina. Ireland scrum half Ailsa Hughes bagged a hat-trick of tries, and there were braces from Deirdre Roberts and Aoife Doyle, in a 57-7 victory.

Muirne Wall came off the bench to score the clinching try in UL Bohemians’ 19-7 derby defeat of Ballincollig, while Wicklow edged out Cooke 20-10 in an end-to-end contest that showcased the improvements made by both teams this season.

It was a brilliant spectacle despite the rain at Shaw’s Bridge, as unconverted scores from the impressive Stacey Sloan and Megan Simpson gave Cooke a 10-8 half-time lead.

Club captain Erin McConnell and player coach Niamh Ni Dhroma led by example for Wicklow with second half tries, the latter’s 69th-minute effort deciding the outcome in their favour.

The result means Wicklow have strung together back-to-back league wins for only the second time in their history. They did so during last season’s Conference campaign, winning at both Malone and Cooke.

It completes a terrific October spell for Jason Moreton’s charges who went unbeaten through the month, having also drawn at Ballincollig. They are now level on points with fourth-placed Galwegians, their next opponents.

Number 8 Sloan, Cooke captain Aishling O’Connell and Ilse van Staden stood out for their ball-carrying ballast, and it was no surprise to see the Belfast side using their forward power to get on the scoreboard early on.

Responding to a Beth Roberts penalty, tighthead O’Connell was stopped short before Sloan drove through a tackle to reach over for an 11th-minute try. It remained 5-3 with Amanda Morton unable to convert from the left.

Sloan and van Staden continued to make inroads with their carries, but Wicklow hit back with a cracking try as Roisin Stone hounded a penalty out of the home side and her half-back partner Roberts took it quickly.

Ni Dhroma got her hands free in a double hit in midfield to keep the move going, and nice hands from Ella Roberts and the centres released winger Naoise O’Reilly to scorch over from the edge of the 22, evading the clutches of Caitlin Fisher.

Beth Roberts dropped the difficult conversion short, leaving it 8-5 to the Garden County outfit. With five minutes left before the break, Cooke went to the corner from a scrum penalty.

The ball went to ground at the maul, but hooker Simpson scooped it up to attack the blindside and score under a pile of bodies. Cooke had Wicklow on the rack as they pressed for a late third try, van Staden, McCormill and Sloan all carrying with great intent.

However, Wicklow held out with Simpson guilty of a crooked throw at a five-metre lineout. Despite the slippery ball, both teams continued to show an ambition to play with width on the restart.

A lightning-quick Wicklow breakaway had Cooke reeling, as their scrum half Hannah Downey was a whisker away from gathering her own chip kick. Instead, O’Reilly swooped in and released her sister Saoirse who tore down the touchline on a barnstorming 60-metre run.

Possession was secured at the ruck, scrum half Stone attacking off the base to make it right up to the line. She was tackled just short but the inrushing McConnell picked and plunged over to edge her side in front – 13-10.

Two turnovers in defence lifted Cooke, as did a marauding run from the inspirational Sloan, yet Wicklow’s kicking and chasing applied timely pressure. They opted to go to the corner from a scrum penalty.

A crucial turnover won by Simpson kept the Cooke intact, only for Wicklow to come again from another penalty. Beth Roberts’ quick tap set up Ni Dhroma who thundered through Chloe McMorran’s tackle to crash over beside the posts.

It was a 10-point gap thanks to out-half Roberts’ conversion, Cooke building for a strong finish when regaining the restart but Roberts’ intelligent kicking – she twice pinned back the hosts on the left side – saw Wicklow take the spoils.


Saturday, October 22 –

Scorers: Ballincollig: Try: Heather Kennedy; Con: Denise Redmond
UL Bohemians: Tries: Clara Barrett, Sarah Garrett, Muirne Wall; Cons: Kate Flannery 2
HT: Ballincollig 7 UL Bohemians 12

BALLINCOLLIG: Heather Kennedy; Michelle O’Driscoll, Christine Arthurs, Meaghan Kenny, Alison Kelly; Jayne Pennefather, Mona Fehily; Roisin Ormond, Clodagh Walsh (co-capt), Clare Coombes, Gillian Coombes (co-capt), Denise Redmond, Kira Fitzgerald, Katelyn Fleming, Tiare Siguenza.

Replacements: Annie Laffan, Aoife Flynn, Eimear Perryman, Caoilainn Healy, Aoife Buckley, Michelle Stafford, Sinéad O’Reilly.

UL BOHEMIANS: Aoife Corey; Clara Barrett, Brianna Heylmann, Alana McInerney, Laura O’Mahony; Kate Flannery, Abbie Salter-Townshend; Geena Behan, Ciara O’Dwyer, Fiona Reidy, Eva McCormack, Claire Bennett, Sarah Garrett, Ciara Farrell, Chloe Pearse (capt).

Replacements: Kate Sheehan, Nicola Sweeney, Eilis Cahill, Rebecca Reilly, Lily Brady, Muirne Wall, Nina Mathastein.

COOKE 10 WICKLOW 20, Shaw’s Bridge
Scorers: Cooke: Tries: Stacey Sloan, Megan Simpson
Wicklow: Tries: Naoise O’Reilly, Erin McConnell, Niamh Ni Dhroma; Con: Beth Roberts; Pen: Beth Roberts
HT: Cooke 10 Wicklow 8

COOKE: Caitlin Fisher; Tamzin Boyce, Christy Hill, Kelly McCormill, Georgia Boyce; Amanda Morton, Hannah Downey; Ilse van Staden, Megan Simpson, Aishling O’Connell (capt), Cara O’Kane, Helen McGhee, Gemma McCamley, Katie Hetherington, Stacey Sloan.

Replacements: Fiona McCaughan, Nicola Sloane, Chloe McMorran, Katie McNeill, Clare McGowan, Dolores Hughes.

WICKLOW: Ella Roberts; Naoise O’Reilly, Aoibhin Stone, Erin McConnell (capt), Meagan Parkinson; Beth Roberts, Roisin Stone; Lauren Barry, Eimear Douglas, Linda Dempsey, Rachel Griffey, Caitlin Griffey, Nicola Schmidt, Jessica Schmidt, Niamh Ni Dhroma.

Replacements: Noelle Ward, Becky Condren, Leah Murphy, Loretta Gilbert, Jocelyn Jones, Saoirse O’Reilly.

Scorers: Galwegians: Try: Orla Dixon; Con: Emma Keane
Railway Union: Tries: Aoife Doyle 2, Deirdre Roberts 2, Ailsa Hughes 3, Aimee Clarke, Lisa Callan; Cons: Nikki Caughey 5, Aimee Clarke
HT: Galwegians 7 Railway Union 26

GALWEGIANS: Mairéad Coyne; Tanya Farrell, Orla Dixon, Maelle Jouve, Laoise McGonagle; Emma Keane, Mary Healy; Jessica Loftus, Emily Gavin, Ellen Connolly, Grace Browne Moran, Lea Turner, Katelyn Bourke, Jessica Foote, Lisa-Marie Murphy (capt).

Replacements: Ruby Lynch, Elizabeth McNicholas, Hannah Coen, Gemma Faulkner, Sarah O’Connell, Olivia Haverty, Kayla Waldron.

RAILWAY UNION: Molly Scuffil-McCabe; Aimee Clarke, Aoife Doyle, Niamh Byrne (capt), Ava Ryder; Nikki Caughey, Ailsa Hughes; Lindsay Peat, Lisa Callan, Megan Collis, Keelin Brady, Aoife McDermott, Carmen Rodera, Emma Fabby, Deirdre Roberts.

Replacements: Claire Byrne, Grainne O’Loughlin, Kirstie Stevenson, Sonia McDermott, Molly Boyne, Aoife O’Shaughnessy, Leah Tarpey.

Scorers: Old Belvedere: Try: Dannah O’Brien; Con: Dannah O’Brien; Pen: Dannah O’Brien
Blackrock College: Tries: Natasja Behan, Mairead Holohan, Méabh Deely; Cons: Méabh Deely 2
HT: Old Belvedere 7 Blackrock College 0

OLD BELVEDERE: Aine Donnelly; Elise O’Byrne-White, Aoife Dalton, Jenny Murphy (capt), Emma Tilly; Dannah O’Brien, Jemma Farrell; Niamh O’Dowd, Vic Dabanovich O’Mahony, Aine Rutley, Caoimhe Guinan, Elaine Anthony, Fiona Tuite, Lesley Ring, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird.

Replacements: Melissa Hayden, Katie Layde, Jane Neill, Clodagh Dunne, Katie Whelan, Emma Kelly, Éadaoin Murtagh.

BLACKROCK COLLEGE: Ella Durkan; Méabh Deely, Michelle Claffey (capt), Enya Breen, Natasja Behan; Lisa Mullen, Tatum Bird; Laura Feely, Emma Hooban, Shannon Heapes, Eimear Corri, Mairead Holohan, Aoife Moore, Beth Cregan, Ali Coleman.

Replacements: Niamh Tester, Mya Alcorn, Jackie Shiels, Ciara Scanlan, Maeve Liston, Roisin Crowe, Abby Moyles.