Muirne Wall’s 78th-minute try got UL Bohemians over the finish line against a determined Ballincollig side, as the Red Robins made it two wins in three games.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE WOMEN’S DIVISION: Saturday, October 22
BALLINCOLLIG 7 UL BOHEMIANS 19, Tanner Park
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
Niamh Briggs’ charges have climbed up to sixth place in the table, but were made to fight all the way as Heather Kennedy’s slickly-taken try in the 14th minute inspired a strong performance from the hosts.
UL Bohs led 12-7 at the interval, with teenage winger Clara Barrett and Sarah Garrett (pictured below) both touching down amid a prolonged first half downpour at Tanner Park.
The scoring chances dried up during a defence-dominated second period, replacement Wall deciding the outcome when scampering over from a ruck for Kate Flannery to convert.
Bohs had all the early territory, with captain Chloe Pearse to the fore in the heavy rain. A very heavy shower made handling conditions and building attacking phases particularly difficult.
Ballincollig full-back Kennedy managed to break past Barrett from deep, but her attempted chip through went straight into touch. Barrett showed her pace soon after, reaching a Flannery kick only to knock on then under pressure from Alison Kelly.
The breakthrough looked on the cards when Barrett countered nicely off a Ballincollig clearance, a sidestepping Ciara Farrell going close before a couple of dropped passes halted UL’s momentum.
Still, Bohs kept pressing and got their reward in the 10th minute. Fiona Reidy and Garrett both carried well, the latter from Brianna Heylmann’s offload, before Barrett showed nice footwork to score in the right corner from a Flannery pass.
Ballincollig claimed the lead by the quarter hour mark, though, as Kennedy ran in an excellent solo score from 45 metres out. Fed from a scrum, she evaded Alana McInerney’s tackle and also rounded Aoife Corey to dash in behind the posts.
Denise Redmond’s conversion split the sides, and while Katelyn Fleming forced a turnover penalty for ‘Collig, Pearse was rallying her UL troops by continually lifting the tempo with quick taps.
The Ireland-capped number 8 treaded a well-weighted kick through, Briggs’ team building more pressure from a knock-on but Jayne Pennefather intercepted a pass to allow ‘Collig to clear the danger.
Flannery continued to probe with the boot as the rain abated, Barrett going close to scoring from one of the out-half’s kicks. Ballincollig were scrambling well in defence, aided by turnovers won by Clare Coombes and Redmond.
However, Bohs struck for their second try five minutes before half-time. A double tackle from Pearse and Heylmann dislodged the ball, and centre McInerney was able to scoop it up and drive forward in the hosts’ 22.
Barrett secured possession with a well-timed clear-out in front of the posts, and Claire Bennett made use of numbers on the right to send flanker Garrett over untouched. Flannery tagged on the extras for a five-point lead.
Early in the second half, incisive running from Pearse, Bennett and lively replacement Lily Brady had Bohs knocking on the door of another try. Crucially for Ballincollig, openside Fleming was in quickly at the breakdown to win a clearing penalty.
‘Collig’s gritty, hard-hitting defence was rewarded with another Clare Coombes turnover, and a pacy kick chase involving Kennedy and Michelle O’Driscoll saw the retreating Flannery concede a penalty outside the UL 22.
The visitors forced Fiona Hayes’ side back with a couple of lineout steals from Garrett and Brady, while Kennedy gained back those metres with a quick-witted counter-attacking run, only for Flannery to win the battle at the breakdown.
Heading into the final quarter, UL’s power was beginning to tell with their scrum getting on top and some ground-gaining carries from the likes of Brady, who pinched another lineout, Heylmann and Eilis Cahill.
Ballincollig were drawn back towards their own try-line after Bohs replacement Rebecca Reilly earned a penalty at the breakdown, Flannery took it quickly and Corey and Barrett (pictured above) both made metres out wide.
The Red Robins pounded away, Cahill, Farrell and Brady all going the direct route. Wall spotted her chance to break clean through from a close-in ruck and score under the posts.
Flannery’s conversion put a dozen points between the Munster rivals, with Bohs seeing out the game without their skipper Pearse who unfortunately had to go off injured.
Wall’s ball-dislodging tackle on her opposite number, Michelle Stafford, off the back of a scrum ended ‘Collig’s hopes of building for a last-gasp response.
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.