Despite missing 17 international players, Railway Union prevailed 24-15 at home to Blackrock to move back to the top of the Women’s All-Ireland League this afternoon. Elsewhere, Cooke and Galwegians claimed the scalps of defending champions UL Bohemians and Old Belvedere respectively.
RAILWAY UNION 24 BLACKROCK 15, Park Avenue
Railway Union called seven of their seconds players into action due to many of their frontliners being away at an Ireland 15s training camp and on Ireland Sevens duty at a tournament in Spain. Their squad depth was thoroughly tested and flanker Emma Murphy and prop Katie O’Dwyer led by example, turning in outstanding performances.
Having started slowly last week against UL Bohemians, Blackrock’s intensity in the opening 30 minutes today was much improved. They were rewarded with a Hannah O’Connor try off the back of a five-metre scrum, and the talented number 8 landed the conversion not far from the touchline.
However, Railway’s greater firepower guided them to a fourth successive win – and a bonus point to boot – thanks to tries from Emma Taylor, Niamh Byrne, Larissa Muldoon and out-half Claire Keohane, with a superb individual effort. A close range penalty from O’Connor tied things up at 10-all with 20 minutes remaining, but the home side held the edge in the final quarter.
Despite a break through the heart of the Railway defence by former Ireland international Jackie Shiels, ‘Rock could only muster one more try when Ali Coleman finished off a well-worked team score. Their head coach Philip Doyle admitted: “The team learned a lot from today’s performance and we’re looking forward to two weeks of hard work before the next challenge (away to St. Mary’s).”
OLD BELVEDERE 12 GALWEGIANS 17, Anglesea Road
There was a major upset at Anglesea Road as fourth-placed Galwegians continued to shake up the league with a 17-12 victory over Old Belvedere, last season’s runners-up. Centre Orla Dixon was their ‘super sub’ with two vital tries as the Blue Belles closed out a confidence-boosting result.
Denise Redmond has had a big impact at the base of the scrum for Fraser Gow’s side since her return from injury, and this afternoon she continued her fine form by scoring the visitors’ opening try. Fiona O’Brien and Franziska Klappoth stood strong for ‘Belvo in the pack, but the Dublin 4 outfit will rue their many missed chances as they fumbled the ball on three occasions with the try-line in sight.
There were two opportunities lost through knock-ons and one forward pass from Ailbhe Dowling to Alison Miller, who has made a welcome return from a long-term ankle injury, in a two-on-one situation. The two tries ‘Belvo did score were registered by Amber Redmond and Dowling, with the latter blazing through in a Jordan Larmour-style run.
COOKE 27 UL BOHEMIANS 22, Shaw’s Bridge
Cooke head coach Wayne Kelly was ‘delighted with their performance’ in a 27-22 bonus point success at home to UL Bohemians as they built on their recent third round triumph over bottom side St. Mary’s.
UL, who trailed 17-3 early on, fought back with tries from Claire Bennett, captain Fiona Hayes and Niamh Briggs but missed the influence of their Ireland squad members. Teenage centre Kelly McCormill was at the heart of Cooke’s best play. The Ireland Under-18 Sevens international has proven to be a great asset for them in their opening rounds, and this afternoon was no different as she ran in two tries.
The Belfast club notched a brilliant second try when dazzling footwork from Katie Hetherington saw her step past three defenders and offload for the onrushing McCormill to apply the finishing touches under the posts. There were additional touchdowns from Peita McAllister and Beth Cregan to secure the bonus point, and although Bohs got back level thanks to Briggs with three minutes remaining, a late break from Claire Johnston saw the home side triumph.
Cooke captain Beth Cregan told Irish Rugby TV afterwards: “We knew that UL Bohs were always going to be one of the hardest teams in the league. Between us it’s always going to be an up-front battle. But I’m really proud of the girls today. We dug in for the full 80 minutes. We’ve three girls there starting from the Under-18s. That didn’t show. Everybody out there showed composure, showed experience. It was just brilliant to play as a team.”
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