Ahead of their crunch meeting next Saturday, unbeaten pair Railway Union and Blackrock College both maintained their winning form in the Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE WOMEN’S DIVISION: Saturday, November 5
RAILWAY UNION 15 OLD BELVEDERE 11, Park Avenue
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
Full-back Aoife O’Shaughnessy’s dramatic last-minute try saw understrength leaders Railway overcome Old Belvedere 15-11 at Park Avenue.
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.
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.