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Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division: Round 7 Review

Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division: Round 7 Review

Centre Niamh Byrne captained Railway Union to a hard-fought win over Old Belvedere at Park Avenue ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Meagan Parkinson’s intercept try from near halfway was worth its weight in gold for Wicklow in the latest round of the Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division.

The experienced winger ran in the only score of a defence-dominated second half, as Wicklow edged out Galwegians 16-14 to move into the dizzying heights of the top four.

With two fixtures against top-three teams still to come, Jason Moreton’s side are up against it to claim a semi-final spot, but they have undoubtedly made huge progress in just their second AIL season.

Converted tries from Elizabeth McNicholas and Mairéad Coyne had ‘Wegians on course, leading 14-9 at half-time. However, Beth Roberts converted Parkinson’s effort to add to her three earlier penalties.

Ahead of their meeting next Saturday, unbeaten pair Railway Union and Blackrock College maintained their winning form. Full-back Aoife O’Shaughnessy’s dramatic last-minute try saw understrength leaders Railway overcome Old Belvedere 15-11.

Railway had to dig deep to avoid a rare home defeat, with two Dannah O’Brien penalties and a try from Elise O’Byrne-White seeing Old Belvedere lead for almost all of the second half. Some missed opportunities came back to haunt them, though.

Railway battled away despite not being at their best, and captain Niamh Byrne sent O’Shaughnessy sidestepping over to decide the outcome of this Dublin derby right at the death.

Old Belvedere took a third-minute lead when out-half O’Brien, the division’s top scorer, knocked over a central penalty after her initial chip kick had been collected by centre O’Byrne-White.

Railway’s impressive flanker Carmen Rodera slipped through from a ruck, and Lindsay Peat was also a prominent carrier early on. Aimee Clarke and her replacement Stephanie Carroll provided plenty of threat on the left wing.

Punching holes during a pacy attack, Peat was twice involved as Belvedere were sent back towards their own posts. Byrne and Chloe Blackmore got the ball wide for Ava Ryder to step inside Jemma Farrell and crash over the whitewash.

The young winger’s 11th-minute try went unconverted, and the reliable left boot of O’Brien quickly moved ‘Belvo back in front at 6-5 as some big tackles continued to leave their mark.

Early in the second quarter, Railway attacked crisply off a midfield scrum to get O’Shaughnessy striding up into the visitors’ 22. They went close from a quick tap before Rodera neatly jinked past Clodagh Dunne for her sixth try of the season.

Nikki Caughey pushed the conversion wide before ‘Belvo prop Alice O’Dowd fought hard to gather in an overthrown Railway lineout. Johnny Garth’s side followed up with some of their best attacking phases of the game.

Incisive running from skipper Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird and Dunne had them knocking on the door for a try, Aine Donnelly going close from O’Brien’s lofted pass but then loosehead O’Dowd was held up.

Nonetheless, on the stroke of half-time, O’Brien’s slashing run up into the 22 saw her combine with Vic Dabanovich O’Mahony who offloaded off the ground to Nic a Bhaird, and the quick ball allowed O’Byrne-White to charge over to the left of the posts.

O’Brien missed the tough conversion on the near side, and with the scoreboard showing 11-10, the Tullow teenager also curled a penalty wide inside the opening minutes of the second half.

The ‘Belvo number 10 drew a 35-metre effort wide soon after, but displayed her quality again with ball in hand. She opened up the defence with an injection of pace and a slick offload out of a tackle to O’Byrne-White.

Railway showed their resilience through replacement winger Carroll’s sin bin period, with their Spanish back rower Rodera twice forcing lineout steals and Peat coming up with a timely turnover penalty.

Ireland international Emma Tilly gobbled up the metres on a pacy run from deep, with O’Byrne-White and Donnelly driving Belvedere back into the hosts’ 22. The nugget-like Nic a Bhaird carried determinedly again, the first one off the back of a close-in scrum.

When the ball was moved back infield, O’Brien and O’Byrne-White freed up full-back Donnelly for a try but it was ruled out for an apparent knock-on. It was a huge let-off for Railway who went on to make ‘Belvo pay for leaving behind those points.

Garth’s charges lost O’Brien to injury, and with 10 minutes remaining Railway gradually worked their way back downfield. They won a scrum penalty, taking it quickly to carry back up towards halfway.

After Donnelly had kicked out on the full, Railway maintained their presence in ‘Belvo territory and Rodera deserved a try from her scintillating 50-metre break. Instead, just like Donnelly’s effort, it was chalked off for a knock-on.

Railway certainly showed their mettle, some smart interplay between backs and forwards finally creating the opening. Byrne flashed the ball out to O’Shaughnessy who clinically cut inside Farrell and Emma Kelly for the match-winning score.

Ireland internationals Maeve Óg O’Leary (2) and Hannah O’Connor made try-scoring returns from injury in Blackrock College’s thumping 71-7 win over Ballincollig. ‘Rock’s 11-try haul included a brace from Ulster’s Ella Durkan.

Ballincollig got off to a solid start, even though they struggled for territory. They showed a willingness to keep ball in hand and get full-back Heather Kennedy involved as the strike runner at set moves.

However, they fell behind in the eighth minute when Maeve Liston was released just outside the 22 and the Ireland Sevens international weaved inside, breaking past Alison Kelly’s tackle on a 30-metre run-in.

Brilliant maul defence from Roisin Ormond, in particular, forced a turnover for Ballincollig in response, yet Blackrock’s back-three were soon flooding forward out wide in search of a second try.

Fit-again flanker O’Leary got her name on the scoresheet, a couple of neat sidesteps taking her in under the posts. Méabh Deely converted for a 12-0 lead on the quarter hour mark.

Kira Fitzgerald’s well-won turnover summed up ‘Collig’s tenacity in defence, but once Blackrock were able to take advantage of space on the edges, they pushed clear on the scoreboard.

Emma Hooban slung an offload out of a tackle for captain Michelle Claffey to score to the left of the posts, Deely converting and ‘Rock keeping the pressure on at the breakdown through Ali Coleman and O’Leary.

It was O’Leary who secured the Dubliners’ bonus point, hitting the line at pace to take a Laura Feely pass and go inside one defender and outside another. Deely’s conversion put 26 points between the sides.

An Ava Fannin charge-down effort and a long-range score from Durkan, who profited from Claffey’s rip in the tackle and Jackie Shiels’ well-timed pass, were both converted by Deely to make it 40-0 at half-time.

Ulster captain Beth Cregan kept the scores coming for Blackrock soon after the restart, as she snatched up turnover ball and her nicely-timed pass released Anna Doyle to dot down. Leinster Under-18 starlet Abby Moyles converted.

A penalty try pushed Ben Martin’s side past the 50-point mark, with Doyle caught by a high tackle as she attempted to score in the left corner.

Ballincollig maintained a high work rate, their scrum tested regularly by ‘Rock but number 8 Fitzgerald did well to carry strongly from the base and get them out of trouble.

The attacking momentum they craved was provided by direct running past halfway from Laurileigh Baker and Sarah O’Donovan. Kennedy showed her pace to surge up into the ‘Rock 22.

The ‘Collig forwards took over, Jayne Pennefather’s inviting pass putting prop Clare Coombes charging towards the posts. She was hauled down but presented the ball for lock Ormond to power over the line for a deserved try.

Following the conversion from winger Kelly, Blackrock built for strong finish to the game with a series of scrums paving the way for replacement Lisa Mullen to send Durkan over in the left corner.

Ballincollig saw out the 80 minutes with 14 players due to Ellen O’Keeffe’s sin-binning for a deliberate knock-on. Sent on from the bench, O’Connor showed her strength to shrug off two defenders on a big rumble to the line.

Moyles rifled over the conversion to make it 66-7, and after a kick through from the young out-half had forced a five-metre scrum, ‘Collig conceded a final try when replacement Natasja Behan darted over from a close-in ruck.

Meanwhile, vice-captain Nicole Cronin made her injury comeback in UL Bohemians’ 43-5 bonus point triumph over Suttonians, a game that was moved from their regular UL Arena base to Castletroy College.

Bohs, who had two tries each from Clodagh O’Halloran and teenage winger Clara Barrett, boosted their semi-final hopes with fourth-placed Wicklow now just three points ahead of them.


Saturday, November 5 –

Scorers: Blackrock College: Tries: Maeve Liston, Maeve Óg O’Leary 2, Michelle Claffey, Ava Fannin, Ella Durkan 2, Anna Doyle, Hannah O’Connor, Natasja Behan, Penalty try; Cons: Méabh Deely 5, Abby Moyles 2, Pen try con
Ballincollig: Try: Roisin Ormond; Con: Alison Kelly
HT: Blackrock College 40 Ballincollig 0

BLACKROCK COLLEGE: Méabh Deely; Maeve Liston, Michelle Claffey (capt), Ella Durkan, Anna Doyle; Jackie Shiels, Tatum Bird; Niamh Tester, Emma Hooban, Laura Feely, Eimear Corri, Mairead Holohan, Maeve Óg O’Leary, Beth Cregan, Ali Coleman.

Replacements: Ava Fannin, Hannah Hodges, Hannah O’Connor, Natasja Behan, Lisa Mullen, Ciara Scanlan, Abby Moyles.

BALLINCOLLIG: Heather Kennedy; Alison Kelly, Ellen O’Keeffe, Meaghan Kenny, Aoife Buckley; Jayne Pennefether, Mona Fehily; Tamsin Richards, Clodagh Walsh (capt), Clare Coombes, Sarah O’Donovan, Roisin Ormond, Laurileigh Baker, Gillian Coombes, Kira Fitzgerald.

Replacements: Annie Laffan, Orla Rea, Aine Dunniece, Ella McCarthy, Christine Arthurs.

Scorers: Railway Union: Tries: Ava Ryder, Carmen Rodera, Aoife O’Shaughnessy
Old Belvedere: Try: Elise O’Byrne-White; Pens: Dannah O’Brien 2
HT: Railway Union 10 Old Belvedere 11

RAILWAY UNION: Aoife O’Shaughnessy; Aimee Clarke, Aoife Doyle, Niamh Byrne (capt), Ava Ryder; Nikki Caughey, Christine Coffey; Lindsay Peat, Chloe Blackmore, Megan Collis, Keelin Brady, Aoife McDermott, Carmen Rodera, Emma Fabby, Molly Boyne.

Replacements: Lisa Callan, Claire Byrne, Grainne O’Loughlin, Daisy Earle, Emerson Allen, Alaïs Diebold, Stephanie Carroll.

OLD BELVEDERE: Aine Donnelly; Éadaoin Murtagh, Elise O’Byrne-White, Emma Kelly, Emma Tilly; Dannah O’Brien, Jemma Farrell; Alice O’Dowd, Vic Dabanovich O’Mahony, Katie Layde, Clodagh Dunne, Elaine Anthony, Fiona Tuite, Niamh O’Dowd, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (capt).

Replacements: Rachel Murphy, Hannah Wilson, Lesley Ring, Caoimhe Guinan, Rachel Winters, Minnona Nunstedt, Finola Collins.

UL BOHEMIANS 43 SUTTONIANS 5, Castletroy College
Scorers: UL Bohemians: Tries: Clodagh O’Halloran 2, Claire Bennett, Laura O’Mahony, Clara Barrett 2, Rachel Allen; Cons: Nicole Cronin, Kate Flannery 3
Suttonians: Try: Grainne Tummon
HT: UL Bohemians 17 Suttonians 0

UL BOHEMIANS: Aoife Corey; Clara Barrett, Alana McInerney, Kate Flannery, Laura O’Mahony; Nicole Cronin (capt), Muirne Wall; Fiona Reidy, Kate Sheehan, Eilis Cahill, Rebecca Reilly, Clare Bennett, Sarah Garrett, Clodagh O’Halloran, Ciara Farrell.

Replacements: Ciara O’Dwyer, Geena Behan, Nicola Sweeney, Lily Brady, Abbie Salter-Townsend, Rachel Allen, Brianna Heylmann.

SUTTONIANS: Sophie Gibney; Annie Buntine, Meabh O’Brien, Catherine Martin (capt), Lena Kibler; Órfhlaith Murray, Amber Redmond; Janita Kareta, Julia O’Connor, Julia Bauer, Roisin O’Driscoll, Grainne Tummon, Louise Catinot, Casey White, Carrie O’Keeffe.

Replacements: Aoife Brennan, Nicola Bolger, Mary Healy, Brenda Barr, Jools Aungier, Clara Sexton, Shannon Touhey.

WICKLOW 16 GALWEGIANS 14, Ashtown Lane
Scorers: Wicklow: Try: Meagan Parkinson; Con: Beth Roberts; Pens: Beth Roberts 3
Galwegians: Tries: Elizabeth McNicholas, Mairéad Coyne; Cons: Nicole Fowley 2
HT: Wicklow 9 Galwegians 14

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

Replacements: Noelle Ward, Caitlin Griffey, Loretta Gilbert, Orla Molloy, Erin McConnell, Jocelyn Jones, Saoirse O’Reilly.

GALWEGIANS: Mairéad Coyne; Tanya Farrell, Orla Dixon, Kayla Waldron, Ursula Sammon; Nicole Fowley (capt), Mary Healy; Kiara Irwin, Elizabeth McNicholas, Jessica Loftus, Dearbhla Canty, Grace Browne Moran, Nolwenn Dubois, Emily Gavin, Lisa-Marie Murphy.

Replacements: Ruby Lynch, Hannah Coen, Faith Oviawe, Maelle Jouve, Olivia Haverty, Sinead O’Brien, Laoise McGonagle.