Leaders Railway Union, UL Bohemians and Old Belvedere all enjoyed bonus point victories in the Women’s All-Ireland League, with Railway ending Blackrock’s five-match unbeaten run with a convincing 30-0 defeat at Stradbrook.
John Cronin’s dynamic young Railway squad ran in six tries through out-half Claire Keohane, flankers Emma Murphy and Juliet Short, full-back Aoife Shaughnessy, winger Katelyn Faust and replacement Lisa Callan. Despite the final scoreline, Cronin said that his side ‘lacked a little accuracy at times’.
Number 8 Hannah O’Connor admitted that Blackrock were ‘guilty of missing tackles which allowed Railway to implement an effective offload game’. ‘Rock trailed 20-0 at half-time and although energetic scrum half Niamh Griffin tried her best to spark the home attack into life, it was the visitors who were able to add two more unconverted tries.
Blackrock will still have a say in the destination of the league title as Cooke, who lost to UL Bohemians down in Limerick, cannot catch Philip Doyle’s charges in fourth spot. It could be a dress rehearsal for their semi-final trip when they visit Bohs in next Sunday’s penultimate round, hoping to ‘learn a lot’ from the mistakes made yesterday.
GALWEGIANS 14 OLD BELVEDERE 41, Crowley Park
Old Belvedere regained third place with a 41-14 bonus point dismissal of Galwegians at Crowley Park. Their head coach Josh Brown praised his assistant, former Ireland lock Marie Louise Reilly, for her tactical nous in shaping the attack which ‘was key to our win over an ever-impressive Galwegians side’.
Belvedere’s 18-year-old tighthead prop Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony impressed once again with a try and an average of eight metres made per carry. Fringe Ireland player Ailbhe Dowling also worked her way onto the scoreboard, along with loosehead Alice O’Dowd and Ireland winger Megan Williams who finished with a well-taken brace of tries.
Brown also credited the defensive efforts of Grace Miller and Elise O’Byrne-Whyte, who ‘both impressed in the centre’ on their return from injury. ‘Wegians’ prolific number 8 Denise Redmond converted her ninth try of the season and one from Elizabeth McKeever.
UL BOHEMIANS 39 COOKE 12, University of Limerick 4G pitch
UL Bohs sank Cooke by seven tries to two in a well-earned 39-12 bonus point success at the University of Limerick. Laura Cairns’ opening try, which saw her exploit a gap out wide after almost 15 minutes of consistent possession, boosted Cooke but the defending champions soon got a grip on proceedings.
Cooke boss Wayne Kelly admitted that his team were not strong enough at the breakdown, saying: “We allowed Bohs into the game with a lack of detail at the ruck. They countered us and beat us out wide for two scores in quick succession.” The relentless force of the Red Robins’ attack ultimately proved too much for the Belfast outfit.
A yellow card for a high tackle on Stephanie Nunan left Cooke down to 14 players, and Bohs were able to build a hefty lead with two tries apiece from Rosie Newton and Nunan and singles from Offaly woman Niamh Kavanagh, returning scrum half Nicole Cronin, who is coming back from an Achilles injury, and Aine Staunton.
A late try from Ireland prop Ilse van Staden was only a consolation score for the visitors whose head coach Kelly praised the work-rate of his inside centre Amanda Morton, while also acknowledging the skill and impact of Bohs youngster Enya Breen who made a number of advancing line-breaks. Breen was named in Ireland’s extended squad for the Six Nations and played at outside centre in the warm-up win over Wales.
Women’s All-Ireland League Results/Fixtures –
Women’s All-Ireland League Table –