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Ugwueru And Flannery Fire UL Bohs To First League Title Since 2018

Ugwueru And Flannery Fire UL Bohs To First League Title Since 2018

Retiring prop Fiona Reidy joined captain Chloe Pearse to lift the trophy for UL Bohemian, this season's Energia All-Ireland League Women's Division champions ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Ireland prospects Chisom Ugwueru and Kate Flannery made sure UL Bohemian brought their table-topping form to the big stage, as they got the better of Railway Union in an enthralling Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division final.


Sunday, April 28 –

Scorers: UL Bohemian: Tries: Aoife O’Shaughnessy, Chisom Ugwueru 3, Éabha Nic Dhonnacha, Aoife Corey 2, Brianna Heylmann; Cons: Kate Flannery 4
Railway Union: Tries: Lindsay Peat 2, Kayla Waldron, Maddy Aberg, Niamh Byrne, Ailsa Hughes; Cons: Nikki Caughey 4
HT: UL Bohemian 22 Railway Union 21

The teams made history in the first Women’s final to be held at the Aviva Stadium, and electric winger Ugwueru marked the occasion with a hat-trick of tries in an eventual 48-38 victory.

Featuring in the build-up to a number of scores, 20-year-old out-half Flannery also contributed handsomely to a record 14th Energia All-Ireland League title for UL Bohs, who were last crowned champions back in 2018.

Fiona Hayes’ first season back as their head coach had finished with a deserved All-Ireland League and Cup double, beating Railway on both occasions, but the Dubliners can hold their heads high after playing their part in a pulsating eight tries-to-six encounter.

Despite evergreen Lindsay Peat lighting up Railway’s performance with two tries, it was retiring Bohs prop Fiona Reidy who got to bow out with her eighth league winner’s medal, lifting the trophy with captain Chloe Pearse at the post-match presentation.

There was a point between the teams in the final table, and it was the same at half-time after Aoife Corey’s late try, while Claire Bennett was in the sin bin, gave UL a 22-21 lead.

With Ugwueru and Kate Flannery showing the benefit of their recent training time with Ireland, Bohs led on four seperate occasions during a furiously-paced first half. Aoife O’Shaughnessy, Ugwueru, and replacement Éabha Nic Dhonnacha also crossed the whitewash.

Peat, Kayla Waldron, and Maddy Aberg, with her 20th try of the campaign, ran in three impressive individual scores for Railway, who had two brief leads but were unable to hold onto them.

Ugwueru, the 21-year-old player-of-the-match, squeezed over before second row Bennett’s return, and the scoring continued to be tit-for-tat with Railway captain Niamh Byrne and Peat sandwiching a 59th-minute maul effort from Brianna Heylmann.

Stephen Costelloe’s side were only 34-33 behind when Flannery created two crucial scores in the 68th and 77th minute. Her cross-field kick put Ugwueru racing away to complete her hat-trick, before her run and pass played in Corey, widening the margin to 15 points.

Railway rounded off the scoring past the 80-minute mark, with scrum half Ailsa Hughes sniping over from a close-in ruck. The 2019 and 2022 champions had their moments, but Hayes’ charges had the answers, particularly during a strength-sapping final quarter.

UL were quickest to settle, scoring from their first visit to the opposition 22. A Bennett turnover led to Ugwueru spinning out of a couple of tackles on a dangerous raid down the right touchline. It took the covering Aberg to stop her.

Bohs were able to retain possession, and Clodagh O’Halloran and Corey kept a good pace to the attack, passing out to the left where winger O’Shaughnessy finished crisply in the fourth minute. Flannery’s surefooted strike saw her add the difficult conversion.

However, Railway were quick to respond, initially gaining ground through Byrne. Nikki Caughey then gobbled Beth Buttimer’s loose lineout, swatted Flannery away and offloaded for Peat to charge over from the edge of the 22, fending off Jane Clohessy along the way.

Following Caughey’s levelling conversion from close range, the pace continued to lift with Hughes taking a couple of quick taps, and her opposite number, Muirne Wall, wriggling through on a break until Byrne won a turnover penalty.

The Red Robins made sure to come away with points from their next visit in the 16th minute. Clohessy carried well off a lineout, and with Railway caught narrow in defence, Stephanie Nunan put Corey through a gap and she fed Ugwueru to cross in the right corner.

Railway had to absorb some further pressure, with Bohs’ Heylmann knocking on just a few metres out. UL were on a warning for high tackles, and the resulting lineout saw them leak a second try, 23 minutes in.

From an initial maul set-up, Katie O’Dwyer unleased centre Waldron who sliced open the defence on a slaloming run, aided by a decoy line from Peat. Caughey converted to give her side a 14-12 advantage.

Their lead lasted barely four minutes, as UL continued to thrive in broken play. With their offloads sticking, Tipperary youngster Flannery ghosted past halfway, connecting with Ugwueru who powered up into the 22. Quick ruck ball led to teenager Nic Dhonnacha scoring out wide.

Canadian Aberg hit back with a superb solo try, punishing Bennett’s yellow card for a high tackle. She evaded four defenders on a weaving run from 45 metres out, backing her pace to evade the covering Flannery and score to the right of the posts.

Caughey’s conversion should have sent Railway in at the break leading 21-17, but 14-woman Bohs had other ideas. They used a penalty to press from a late lineout, before Flannery’s cross-field kick bounced off Ava Ryder, allowing the inrushing Corey to collect the ball and touch down.

Railway were sent right back to their own try-line, early on the restart. UL’s front row, including veteran tighthead Reidy, all went close to getting over the line. It took Ennis flyer Ugwueru to turn the pressure into points, going over past Aberg’s tackle with just inches to spare.

Railway turned to their hard-working pack to do most of the damage in the 45th minute, Bohs holding out until Caughey’s skip pass gave Byrne the chance to hand off Ugwueru and register her side’s fourth try. The experienced out-half missed the left-sided conversion, leaving Bohs just 27-26 ahead.

Impressive prop Ciara O’Dwyer, Clohessy, and Heylmann showed their ability to regularly make metres, giving UL a solid attacking platform approaching the hour mark. They duly forced a sixth try, with a well-controlled lineout drive landing Heylmann over the line.

Flannery nailed the conversion from the right, finally putting more than a converted score in it. Railway regained the initiative, though, as Peat took an inviting return pass from replacement Sophie Barrett to storm over past three covering defenders.

With Caughey’s conversion made it a one-point game again (34-33), Railway were suddenly flooding forward with Peat leading the charge in midfield. Bohs looked vulnerable out wide, but they survived a Ryder run and a tap penalty from Hughes.

Having lost the unfortunate Waldron to injury, Railway suffered a further blow when Faith Oviawe was tackled short with an overlap not exploited. A couple of knock-ons allowed Bohs to exit, and Ugwueru turned match winner just moments later.

Flannery showed good awareness to spot the space out wide, her bouncing kick fastened onto by Ugwueru who shrugged off Tarpey to break free and score from Railway’s 10-metre line. Flannery’s right boot made it 41-33, but what had Railway left in the tank?

Aberg continued to carry with great intent, but O’Shaughnessy intercepted her pass to prevent a breakout. Indeed, with Hughes soon tackled over her own try-line by the tenacious Wall, UL managed to stretch their lead.

Having watched O’Dwyer be held up, Flannery came hunting again down the right hand side, slipping through a gap and cleverly passing back inside for Corey to finish strongly under two defenders. The try’s creator clipped over her third successful conversion of the second half.

There was no way back for Railway but they took the final’s scoring totals to 86 points and 14 tries. The tireless Aberg battered her way through the middle, setting up Hughes to go over at the end of what was an excellent exhibition of Irish Women’s club rugby.

TIME LINE: 4 minutes – UL Bohemian try: Aoife O’Shaughnessy – 5-0; conversion: Kate Flannery – 7-0; 8 mins – Railway Union try: Lindsay Peat – 7-5; conversion: Nikki Caughey – 7-7; 16 mins – UL Bohemian try: Chisom Ugwueru – 12-7; conversion: missed by Kate Flannery – 12-7; 23 mins – Railway Union try: Kayla Waldron – 12-12; conversion: Nikki Caughey – 12-14; 28 mins – UL Bohemian try: Éabha Nic Dhonnacha – 17-14; conversion: missed by Kate Flannery – 17-14; 34 mins – UL Bohemian yellow card: Claire Bennett; 35 mins – Railway Union try: Maddy Aberg – 17-19; conversion: Nikki Caughey – 17-21; 38 mins – UL Bohemian try: Aoife Corey – 22-21; conversion: missed by Kate Flannery – 22-21; Half-time – UL Bohemian 22 Railway Union 21; 41 mins – UL Bohemian try: Chisom Ugwueru – 27-21; conversion: missed by Kate Flannery – 27-21; 45 mins – Railway Union try: Niamh Byrne – 27-26; conversion: missed by Nikki Caughey – 27-26; 59 mins – UL Bohemian try: Brianna Heylmann – 32-26; conversion: Kate Flannery – 34-26; 62 mins – Railway Union try: Lindsay Peat – 34-31; conversion: Nikki Caughey – 34-33; 68 mins – UL Bohemian try: Chisom Ugwueru – 39-33; conversion: Kate Flannery – 41-33; 77 minutes – UL Bohemian try: Aoife Corey – 46-33; conversion: Kate Flannery – 48-33; 80+1 mins – Railway Union try: Ailsa Hughes – 48-38; conversion: missed by Claire Keohane – 48-38; Full-time – UL Bohemian 48 Railway Union 38

UL BOHEMIAN: Aoife Corey; Chisom Ugwueru, Stephanie Nunan, Alana McInerney, Aoife O’Shaughnessy; Kate Flannery, Muirne Wall; Ciara O’Dwyer, Beth Buttimer, Fiona Reidy, Clodagh O’Halloran, Claire Bennett, Jane Clohessy, Brianna Heylmann, Chloe Pearse (capt).

Replacements used: Éabha Nic Dhonnacha for McInerney (8 mins), Lily Brady for Clohessy (58), Sarah Garrett for Heylmann (64), Rachel Allen for Nunan (66), Abbie Salter-Townshend for Wall, Eva McCormack for Bennett, Nicola Sweeney for Reidy, Ciara McLoughlin for O’Dwyer (all 78).

RAILWAY UNION: Aimee Clarke; Maddy Aberg, Niamh Byrne (capt), Kayla Waldron, Ava Ryder; Nikki Caughey, Ailsa Hughes; Grainne O’Loughlin, Meabh Keegan, Megan Collis, Keelin Brady, Faith Oviawe, Katie O’Dwyer, Molly Boyne, Lindsay Peat.

Replacements used: Patricia Doyle for Collis (half-time), Sophie Barrett for O’Loughlin, Emily Gavin for Keegan (both 48 mins), Leah Tarpey for Clarke (56), Claire Keohane for Waldron (66), Dani Franada for Caughey (69), Kirstie Stevenson for O’Dwyer, Salome Trauth for Oviawe (both 78).

Referee: Stuart Douglas (IRFU)