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Ballincollig became the story of the first round of the Women’s All-Ireland League after holding on to beat Suttonians 14-13 in a nail-biting finish at Tanner Park
The Cork club’s long-awaited return to AIL rugby kicked off in brilliant fashion, young out-half Kelly Griffin jinking through midfield to score and convert after just six minutes.
Suttonians scrum-half Lena Kibler soon sniped over, and the north Dubliners, who are now coached by Stephen Costelloe, edged ahead early on the restart thanks to a Catherine Galvin penalty.
Fiona Hayes’ Ballincollig side redoubled their efforts and with five minutes remaining, Heather Kennedy raced for the corner and a high tackle saw referee Carl O’Meara award a penalty try.
Although Katie Grant Duggan got over for Sutts’ second try in the dying moments, the conversion proved too difficult and Ballincollig, thanks to some sterling defense, pocketed four hard-earned points.
Munster’s Gemma Lane, who paired up with Griffin as Ballincollig’s half-backs, said: “We’d put in a lot of hard work in training but we were all just really excited to get going, to be honest. It’s great to start the club season with a win and we’re very happy.
“Our motto for the team is just ‘work, work, work’, like the Rihanna song! So it really was just about hard work the whole time. That’s what we were saying to each other throughout the game.”
Ballincollig (14) Suttonians (13), Tanner Park
Scorers: Ballincollig: Tries: Kelly Griffin, Penalty try; Cons: Kelly Griffin, Pen try con
Suttonians: Tries: Lena Kibler, Katie Grant Duggan; Pen: Catherine Galvin
HT: Ballincollig 7 Suttonians 5
Sinead O’Reilly; Ellen O’Keeffe, Christine O’Sullivan, Mona Fehily, Heather Kennedy; Kelly Griffin, Gemma Lane; Alix Cunneen, Clodagh Walsh, Claire Coombes, Eimear Perryman, Gillian Coombes, Niamh O’Regan, Katelyn Fleming, Denise Redmond.
Replacements: Olivia Hay Mulvihill, Roisin Ormond, Meaghan Kenny, Sarah O’Donovan, Eimear Minihane, Laurileigh Baker, Christine Arthurs, Kira Fitzgerald.
Lauren Farrell McCabe; Carrie O’Keeffe, Catherine Martin, Jools Aungier, Megan Cullen; Catherine Galvin, Lena Kibler; Ciara O’Brien, Aoife Brennan, Julia Bauer, Brenda Barr, Aislinn Layde, Louise Catinot, Aifric O’Brien, Katie Grant Duggan.
Replacements: Julia O’Connor, Sophie Brennan, Roisin O’Driscoll.