- Result: Galwegians Women 10 - Old Belvedere 14
- Venue: Old Belvedere on Sun Mar 10th 2013
- Competition: AIL Womens Cup
Galwegians cannot defend their national title this winter stumbling 19-nil on Sunday at their first real hurdle quarter of an hour after the campaign got under way.
Gifted a first round default victory by a Cooke team unable to field away from home, Galwegians drew a second round encounter with Old Belvedere – ironically, the team which ousted them prematurely from the Leinster Cup last season.
Played in Barnhall in Baltic and windswept conditions after rainwater rendered Belvedere’s hometrack unplayable, Galwegians boasted one substitute upon kickoff, hardly ample cover for a knockout competition against the Leinster Cup finalists three years running.
Old Belvedere kicked off with the crosswind at their backs but struggled to secure any possession for the first four minutes. The visitors opting for a forward onslaught through stalwart Emer O’Dowd and ball-carriers Beth Mallard, Ruth O’Reilly and Laura Feely. It bode well for the visitors who marched to the halfway line within half a dozen phases before turning it over through a handling error.
Safe in the knowledge they had a gusting security blanket behind them, Old Belvedere declined the boot in favour of possession and themselves marched two metres inside the Blue 22, before plundering a poorly-guarded blindside for easy yards down the right-hand touchline.
A concerted sameway assault and slick short passes stretched defensive resources and the black’n’whites coasted over on the seven-minute mark to score 15m in from touch to go five nil ahead.
Their second try, again the result of handling issues from the national champions, was near enough to a carbon copy of the first, Galwegians learning little from the previous passage.
Slack defence, two missed tackles, and a refusal to drag extra numbers to cover a targeted short side contributed to the points disparity 10minutes in.
Old Belvedere waited no more than another five minutes to once again stretch defenses.
A straightforward missed tackle on the halfway mark allowed Belvedere to carve off 35m on the fly, and a second lapse straight after took them to within 12 of the ‘Wegians goal-line. Two offloads ensured OB guaranteed their second converted try on top of the first to go 19-nil up after 17minutes.
Galwegians took another quarter of an hour to cross the halfway into Old Belvedere territory but looked sharp probing the immediate fringe or the sideline extremes.
Number nine Sorcha Ni Chadhain and Mallard combined well using deft back passes to breach an Old Belvedere defensive line seemingly more concerned with the midfield.
Galwegians forced a verbal warning after opposition infringing of tackled players and finally crossed the line two minutes from halftime only to watch mouths agape as the ball bizarrely spilt in the process of scoring.
With the breeze mellowing only marginally, Galwegians sought the far left corner with the wind behind them, skipper Clare Raftery giving the ball every chance to seek the corner.
Ruth O’Reilly crossed first crashing over ably-backed by her forward colleagues, and Lisa McDonagh (centre) floated a miss pass in trying conditions to free Mairead Coyne to score Wegians’ second. Both went unconverted.
Old Belvedere’s casualty count began to climb as several sought running repairs with 18minutes left on the clock but with a nine-point buffer they responded stoically to snuff out any belated designs Galwegians had on the tryline, and the silverware at stake.
A woefully-inept and gutless first quarter-hour from the visitors and a clinical Old Belvedere first half left little doubt at the 40minute mark who would advance to a third fixture.
The result leaves Old Belvedere well-placed to grab a rare cup rugby double at provincial and national level. With the heavily-favoured UL Bohemians on the other side of the draw (and Galwegians and Cooke no longer a factor), Old Belvedere have only a Highfield hurdle to clear before booking a place in the All Ireland feature final.
The Leinster Cup of course holds palatable appeal still, given Old Belvedere must put a wounded Galwegians away for a fifth time this season should the BlueBelles beat St Mary’s in the two-plays-three semi-final.