- Result: Galwegians Women 7 - Blackrock 17
- Venue: Blackrock on Sun Sep 15th 2013
- Competition: AIL Womens League
Galwegians’ women launched their season with defeat to Blackrock on Sunday last, albeit with a commendable performance punctuated with some exceptional individual displays. The game was also the first under new coach George Naoupu who, despite the loss, was positive with the team’s showing and confident about the weeks to come.
A half-time score of nil all betrayed the entertaining rugby played by both teams in the first forty minutes. The vast majority of play belonged to Wegians, for which they had their immaculate defence to thank. Tricia McNamara set the standard early on with a powerful tackle on the wing; any failure would surely have resulted in a try for Blackrock. She maintained her impeccable tackling throughout the first half, shepherding many of Blackrock’s dangerous backs into touch with debutante Pamela Devaney ably maintaining the security of the other wing.
Emma Clery, who has dedicated her allegiance to Wegians this season, was simply masterful at full-back, quenching any scoring opportunity the home side sniffed, and attacking just as powerfully. Fellow Tipp native Michelle Fitzpatrick fared equally well on her Galwegians debut in the centre. Textbook backrow play was provided by Kate O’Flynn, Heather Cary and new cap Fiona Malone. The three worked hard across the park, chaperoning the tight-five’s hard runs, and turning-over opposition ball seemingly at will.
Blackrock’s one encroachment into Galwegian territory at the end of the second half was countered by this defensive prowess, culminating in a superb turnover by Mar Sheridan. Outhalf Claire Raftery, stand-in captain for the absent Ruth O’Reilly, kicked to clear, ending the half.
While Wegians defended tremendously, they failed to capitalise on the home side’s high penalty count, due mainly to early wet conditions. Strong winds helped dictate that play would be within Wegians’ half for the majority of the second half, and practically negated the clearance kick as an option. Blackrock’s experience and street smarts allowed them to take the advantage on the hour mark, with veteran Tania Rosser finally getting the better of the defence to score out wide. This was followed soon after by a similar score, but with both going unconverted Galwegians were never too far behind.
Enter Mairead Coyne, whose introduction for new cap Fiona Glynn at half time injected much needed bite into Galwegians’ attack. Her entry into the game was seamless, her defensive efforts on par with her hardened colleagues. A trademark Coyne line through the opposition defence, thanks to a fine scrum, and the hands and vision of Mary Healy and Rafterty, ended with a bold score under the posts. Rafterty converted to close the gap to three.
Another debut was handed to forward Fiona Farrell who replaced the indomitable Sheridan with fifteen to go. The excitement of the previous few minutes, however, petered out as Galwegians failed to create any more concrete chances. Rather undeservedly, they conceded once more – Rosser going over for her second of the day – and the subsequent conversion put too much daylight between the teams with only minutes remaining.