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.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE WOMEN’S DIVISION: Saturday, November 5
BLACKROCK 71 BALLINCOLLIG 7, Stradbrook
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
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.
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.