- Result: Galwegians Women 19 - Blackrock 12
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sun Apr 14th 2013
- Competition: Paul Flood Leinster Womens Cup
The Galwegians women ground out a Leinster Cup finals berth on Sunday at Glenina in Galway by way of a gruelling and torrid battle 19-12 over one of Dublin Rugby's royal family.
The heavily-favoured Blackrock team has enjoyed a near meteoric resurgence since Christmas after starting this winter's AIL in poor form. Galwegians, by contrast, got away to the regular league season with a certifiable trouncing of Cooke in Belfast but faltered in the weeks to follow.
Cup rugby seldom follows the recipe however and pays little heed to current form, as was the case on Sunday. In blustery squally conditions, Blackrock tore into the locals with all the verve and passion required to book their seat next weekend against title-holders Old Belvedere.
They didn't disappoint.
Twenty-two minutes in Blackrock hammered home the wind advantage and camped deep in Galwegians territory. A defensive lapse near the ruck availed good space on the right hand side and the visitors posted the first points minutes after a cringeworthy Galwegians penalty miss six minutes prior.
Content to camp first and score later, Blackrock once again plugged the corners for field position and following an injury-induced first half backline substitution the resulting juggle allowed Blackrock's 12 to skip through off a short ball 14metres out and wind her way to the right-hand upright through some lacklustre tackle attempts. The kick on this occasion found its mark and 10minutes short of the break Blackrock looked well in control off anything but the set-piece.
Galwegians, who'd had the bulk of possession in the first 12minutes struggled to string together more than six or seven phases through poor handling and communication breakdowns.
That said, the Galway forwards managed to work three mauls for a combined yard advantage of about 65metres. The third of these pushed them well over the halfway line and freed up space for dual-status midfielder Niamh Ni Dhroma to poke through a weak grasp and streak 25metres to go under the bar. Stand-in outhalf and goalkicker Sorcha Ni Chadhain added the extras on the stroke of half time and closed the deficit once more to five points, 12-7 at the break.
Against the wind and with the weather worsening, Blackrock had to best manage a set-piece disparity which would have cost them clean possession at both scrum and lineout time but for Tania Rosser's cool head and slick hands. Under pressure throughout, the evergreen number nine gifted the Blackrock backs clean but hurried ball. In broken play however, it was another story. Galwegians forwards Ruth O'Reilly, Heather Cary, Chiara Ni Gabhainn and Mar Sheridan made life as unpleasant for the plucky nine as possible. Time and again, while Rosser hauled herself off the ground Galwegians were contesting the next breakdown and seven or eight times out of 10 won it outright or secured possession.
Ni Chadhain sent a spiralling rightfooter deep into the 'Rock dangerzone 15minutes in and O'Reilly, Emer O'Dowd and Beth Mallard hammered into blue and white defenses from the base of the ruck. It was O'Reilly who broke the deadlock to go in two wide of the left upright. Ni Chadhain put Wegians two points ahead with the conversion, 14-12.
Blackrock worked their way once more to within 18metres of the Wegians line but were penalised for holding on and gave Wegians the reprieve they so desperately sought.
Galwegians worked their way upfield and put the result beyond doubt when blindside Sheridan latched on to some width and a good ball 10m in from the lefthand touch 12m out from the goal-line and won the footrace to the chalk.
Blackrock, seven points adrift, were left wondering how they surrendered a first half score to Galwegians with a howling gale at their back. Galwegians on the other hand will replay the 2011 final against arch-rivals Old Belvedere without the benefit of a well-populated and vocal local clique cheering them on.