- Result: Galwegians Women 41 - Portlaoise 0
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sun Jan 20th 2013
- Competition: Paul Flood Leinster Womens Cup
Galwegians continued their high-scoring run through the Leinster Cup, posting another bonus point win to join Old Belvedere atop their pool two weeks in. Whereas Blackrock suffered five points to 40 last week, Portlaoise headed west to Glenina to suffer a similarly convincing 41-nil loss to Galwegians in dry and mild, but fresh conditions. On paper, the division one heavyweights and current All-Ireland Cup champions would have been favoured by even the most skeptical pundit pre-kickoff. Number-eight Carol Staunton erased any lingering doubt seven minutes in weaving her way through for her second, two minutes after her first. She clocked up her third 10 minutes later and a fourth on 25minutes when the game risked devolving into a one-sided mismatch as both sides failed to guarantee breakdown ball in the first half’s latter stages. Galwegians opened their onslaught with textbook structure and found easy yards available by fourth and fifth phase. Portlaoise too showed early glimpses of promise and evasive running in patches, but much of it was across the paddock with little net gain. Clare Raftery (10) and Lisa McDonagh (12) were responsible for much of the yardage in broken play, Raftery’s boot probing both sidelines, and McDonagh pulling in two, if not three, defenders every time she met the gainline. In the pack, 2012 Six Nations international Ruth O’Reilly’s workrate was immense and found ample ball to play with between Raftery and McDonagh’s 10/12 channel. She was ably-backed by hooker Mele Tuimaga-Kiripati not nearly as conspicuous with ball-in-hand but every bit a force to be reckoned with on defence. She snatched four first-half turnovers against the Leinster visitors. Elsewhere, scrumhalf Anne O’Callaghan snatched three turnovers herself – admirable for a pint-sized number nine far outweighed on the frame stakes by most opposition ballcarriers. The hosts posted their bonus point try about 13 minutes short of halftime when Raftery threw a dummy 15m short of the Portlaoise goal-line, drew two and turned it back inside to a raging McDonagh. The midfield strike runner smoked through untouched and offloaded a short ball to the ever-present Staunton for what may have been the Wegians women’s try of the season thus far. Halftime chat focused on avoiding the mess and muddle of a structural breakdown, and for a short while Galwegians responded. Wing/fullback Jacqui Mulligan latched onto a looseball turnover 55m out and made short work of the distance gifting Raftery an easy conversion. The sixth try landed Beth Mallard’s way off a tap penalty seven metres out. The Kiwi ex-pat former Black Fern cannonballed her way through a raft of wouldbe tacklers and crashed over 12m left of the upright. Starting fullback Mairead Coyne dotted down for the final score of the afternoon having slotted in to the outside centre role. Mulligan dropped back to mind the last line of defence. Hampered by untimely injuries and fielding an inexperienced backline, Portlaoise showed occasional enterprise to rival the more-experienced Connacht crowd opposite. At the breakdown they were every bit the measure of the West Coasters but beyond the all-important fourth and fifth phases Portlaoise simply lacked the firepower to halt continuity and reign in Wegians’ flyers. Hooker Tuimaga-Kiripati’s contribution was indomitable in broken play popping up as a loose forward on defence and bullocking linebreaker with the ball-in-hand; an 80-minute effort deserving of the most valuable player points. Staunton, Lisa McDonagh, Mulligan and O’Reilly weren’t far behind.