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Energia All-Ireland Women’s Cup Series: Round 1 Review

Energia All-Ireland Women’s Cup Series: Round 1 Review

Back rower Helen McGhee bagged a brace of tries for Cooke in their Energia All-Ireland Women's Cup Series opener against Ballincollig ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

The Energia All-Ireland Women’s Cup Series kicked into gear with Cooke joining some of the league’s leading lights in claiming a bonus point win.

Long-serving Ulster prop Ilse van Staden, who has announced her retirement from interprovincial rugby, got amongst the tries as Cooke beat Ballingcollig 29-10 in their opening fixture at Shaw’s Bridge.

Two-try number 8 Helen McGhee stood out in a strong second half performance from the Belfast side, as they erased Ballincollig’s 10-7 lead following unconverted scores from recent Munster cap Heather Kennedy and Laurileigh Baker.

Despite missing a number of players called up to the Combined Provinces squad, Blackrock College began their bid to add the Cup title to their AIL crown with a 31-5 bonus point triumph at Suttonians.

It was Sutts who took the lead at a windy JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds, as versatile forward Grainne Tummon charged down a Lisa Mullen kick, dribbled through and scored to the left of the posts.

However, Blackrock were quick to respond through Niamh Tester from a lineout maul, and a second converted try from captain Michelle Claffey saw them close out the first half with a hard-earned 14-5 lead.

Ireland Under-18 internationals Abby Moyles and Alanna Fitzpatrick lifted the tempo with a quick tap and a subsequent break, the latter darting up close to the Sutts posts before offloading off the ground for Claffey to crash in under the posts.

Aoife Moore’s powerful burst to the line extended ‘Rock’s advantage early in the second half, although Sutts remained ultra competitive, particularly at the breakdown and set-piece time.

A quick tap saw influential half-back Mullen pocket the bonus point for Ben Martin’s charges, and good hands from the backs put Mairéad Ní Chathasaigh stepping in off her left wing for the fifth and final try.

Meanwhile, AIL runners-up Railway Union outscored Conference champions Wicklow by seven tries to two to register a 39-15 bonus point victory at Park Avenue.

It was a tight contest in the first half, Railway holding a 17-10 lead with Deirdre Roberts breaking off a fifth-minute lineout maul to send Nikki Caughey over for an unconverted effort.

Seven minutes later, Roberts used turnover ball to slip through a defensive gap and offload for Lindsay Peat to touch down. Hazel Simmons converted from the left.

Aoife McDermott floated a skip pass out for Railway captain Niamh Byrne to make it 17-0, but with their strong scrum growing in influence, Wicklow hit back when tighthead Lauren Barry barged over for a deserved try.

Beth Roberts drove over a fine conversion from the left and as the rain hammered down, the left-footed out-half clipped over a penalty with the last kick of the first half.

A wicked bounce from a Caughey kick allowed the pacy Byrne to double her tally early on the resumption, with Caughey also converting.

Barry was unstoppable from a close-in ruck, reducing the arrears to 24-15, but that was as close as Wicklow got in a second half that Railway gradually took control of.

Replacement Aimee Clarke gobbled up a bouncing pass from McDermott to raid over in the right corner, before a big hand-off and burst of pace took Stephanie Carroll over on a 35-metre run-in.

Evergreen prop Peat saved the best for last, hitting the line at pace to open up the Wicklow defence in the final play and evading the clutches of two defenders to complete her brace.

Fresh from winning the Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship with Munster, young prop Eilís Cahill picked up two tries during UL Bohemians’ 29-10 bonus point defeat of Galwegians. Former Ireland international Niamh Kavanagh also crossed twice.


Saturday, January 28 –

COOKE 29 BALLINCOLLIG 10, Shaw’s Bridge
Scorers: Cooke: Tries: Ilse van Staden, Hannah Downey, Helen McGhee 2; Cons: Amanda Morton 3; Pen: Amanda Morton
Ballincollig: Tries: Heather Kennedy, Laurileigh Baker
HT: Cooke 7 Ballincollig 10

COOKE: Lucy Thompson; Tamzin Boyce, Teah Maguire, Christy Hill, Megan Edwards; Amanda Morton, Hannah Downey; Ilse van Staden, Megan Simpson, Aishling O’Connell (capt), Gemma McCamley, Cara O’Kane, Chloe McMorran, Katie Hetherington, Helen McGhee.

Replacements: Ella Garland, Emma Kearney, Fiona McCaughan, Beth McCamley, Georgia Boyce, Annie Timoney.

BALLINCOLLIG: Heather Kennedy; Sinéad O’Reilly, Michelle O’Driscoll, Kelly Griffin, Alison Kelly; Jayne Pennefather, Mona Fehily; Roisin Ormond, Clodagh Walsh (capt), Clare Coombes, Gillian Coombes, Sarah O’Donovan, Tiare Siguenza, Laurileigh Baker, Denise Redmond.

Replacements: Annie Laffan, Orla Rea, Aoife Flynn, Tamsin Richards, Nicola Akande, Grace Buckley, Aoife Buckley.

Scorers: Galwegians: Try: Ellen Connolly; Con: Nicole Fowley; Pen: Nicole Fowley
UL Bohemians: Tries: Niamh Kavanagh 2, Eilis Cahill 2, Chloe Pearse; Cons: Kate Flannery 2
HT: Galwegians 3 UL Bohemians 10

GALWEGIANS: Mairéad Coyne; Laoise McGonagle, Maelle Jouve, Ursula Sammon, Sinead O’Brien; Nicole Fowley (capt), Mary Healy; Jessica Loftus, Emily Gavin, Ellen Connolly, Dearbhla Canty, Orla Fenton, Nolwenn Dubois, Mollie Starr, Grace Browne Moran.

Replacements: Ruby Lynch, Hannah Coen, Niamh O’Grady, Camille Lassalle, Aoife Williams, Gemma Faulkner, Olivia Haverty.

UL BOHEMIANS: Stephanie Nunan; Aisling Stock, Alana McInerney, Rachel Allen, Niamh Kavanagh; Kate Flannery, Abbie Salter-Townshend; Geena Behan, Lily Brady, Eilís Cahill, Eva McCormack, Rebecca Reilly, Sarah Garrett, Jane Clohessy, Chloe Pearse (capt).

Replacements: Ciara O’Dwyer, Nicola Sweeney, Fiona Reidy, Sarah Quin, Aoibhe O’Flynn, Muirne Wall, Nina Mathastein.

Scorers: Railway Union: Tries: Nikki Caughey, Lindsay Peat 2, Niamh Byrne 2, Aimee Clarke, Stephanie Carroll; Cons: Hazel Simmons, Nikki Caughey
Wicklow: Tries: Lauren Barry 2; Con: Beth Roberts; Pen: Beth Roberts
HT: Railway Union 17 Wicklow 10

RAILWAY UNION: Aoife O’Shaughnessy; Ava Ryder, Niamh Byrne (capt), Nikki Caughey, Stephanie Carroll; Hazel Simmons, Christine Coffey; Lindsay Peat, Deirdre Roberts, Katie O’Dwyer, Sonia McDermott, Aoife McDermott, Carmen Rodera, Keelin Brady, Emma Murphy.

Replacements: Claire Byrne, Grainne O’Loughlin, Daisy Earle, Emerson Allen, Katie Heffernan, Aimee Clarke, Leah Tarpey.

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

Replacements: Noelle Ward, Laura Newsome, Loretta Gilbert, Leah Murphy, Suzanne Tyrrell, Megan McConnell.

Scorers: Suttonians: Try: Grainne Tummon
Blackrock College: Tries: Niamh Tester, Michelle Claffey, Aoife Moore, Lisa Mullen, Mairéad Ní Chathasaigh; Cons: Lisa Mullen 2, Abby Moyles
HT: Suttonians 5 Blackrock College 14

SUTTONIANS: Sophie Gibney; Moya Kernan, Meabh O’Brien, Catherine Martin (capt), Annie Buntine; Órfhlaith Murray, Amber Redmond; Grainne Tummon, Julia O’Connor, Roisin O’Driscoll, Brenda Barr, Nicola Bolger, Casey White, Ali Howick, Carrie O’Keeffe.

Replacements: Aislinn Layde, Louise Catinot, Clara Sexton, Jools Aungier, Ciara Spencer.

BLACKROCK COLLEGE: Ellen Boylan; Valerie Power, Alanna Fitzpatrick, Ciara Scanlan, Mairéad Ní Chathasaigh; Lisa Mullen, Abby Moyles; Shannon Heapes, Niamh Tester, Ava Fannin, Hannah Hodges, Aoife Moore, Michelle Claffey (capt), Beth Cregan, Laura Feely.

Replacements: Azhria Shweiki, Keely Doonan.