- Result: Galwegians Women 5 - Old Belvedere 10
- Venue: Old Belvedere RFC on Sun Jan 15th 2012
- Competition: Paul Flood Leinster Womens Cup
Barring an interplanetary re-alignment and stroke of good fortune, the Galwegians Women will not defend their Paul Flood Leinster Cup this season.
Last year's smash-and-grab on the Leinster trophy cabinet came by way of a 22-nil victory over Old Belvedere on the Blackrock pitch. Last weekend, bizarrely drawn against co-finalists Old Belvedere in round one, Galwegians were unable to repeat the result, falling five points short down 10-5 in Dublin.
With a makeshift front-row and re-jigged forward pack, Galwegians landed in the capital well-aware they might struggle in both set-piece and breakdown. Belvedere too were missing three to international duty.
While missed tackles were a major hindrance to staking a claim in the opposition half, handling errors prevented any continuity - imperative for any success against a more mobile forward contingent.
Time and again, balls went to ground in dry, mild conditions. Time and again Galwegians found themselves wondering why they were starved of any possession.
While defence on the whole was sound, occasional lapses of concentration allowed black-and-white ball carriers free reign to carve off easy yards. Nuala Ni Chadhain and Margaret Fitzgibbon did well in the midfield to contain the counter-attack, and Becky McPhilbin and Lisa McDonagh showed rare glimmers on attack but for the most part it was a barely recognisable performance compared to the one which put away Cooke in the league late last year.
The gravity of the loss, only too apparent for coaches Anthony Murphy and Luke O'Donnell, seemed to dawn only in the final quarter when the Blue Belles strung together a six-minute campaign of champagne football forging their way through forward cohesion 40m to cross the opposition 22m. Clare Raftery directed play well, used Sligo strike weapon Laura Feely to good advantage, and opened it up to her backline colleagues on the third phase.
Raftery missed one, found Ni Chadhain on the left hand 15m line who drew two, delayed the pass and lofted an eight or nine metre long lob to a flying McPhilbin who went over untouched.
Why it took 70minutes to resurrect pre-Christmas form will remain a source of debate over the months to come. Galwegians can only hope it takes a great deal less time in the weeks to come where Navan, Barnhall and Portlaois will determine their AIL national cup standing.