- Result: Galwegians Women 24 - Cooke 0
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sun Dec 4th 2011
- Competition: AIL Womens League
The Galwegians Women, buoyed by as complete a performance as any this season against Navan the weekend before, raised the bar on Sunday.
A resounding 24-nil win against a travelling Cooke allayed all but a few of O’Donnell and Murphy’s concerns, the coaching pair’s drawing board looking relatively clutter-free for the Christmas break.
Not-so-silent assassin Ruth O’Reilly and the ever-present Tosh Haywood welcomed back front row colleague Sarah Brennan who yet again staked a claim as one of the division’s most formidable scrummagers. Where Haywood raked near half-a-dozen tightheads against the hapless Navan the weekend before, she (and the Wegians pack) simply walked over the ball on Sunday.
Nigh impossible to single out any one among the starting XV and bench on Sunday, cohesion was the undercurrent throughout. As important given its rarity in recent seasons was the team’s opening onslaught.
Too often has this ‘Wegians team taken the entire opening quarter to grease its wheels. And while talent and clinical efficiency have never been entirely absent from any performance this winter, they’ve rarely appeared from the opening whistle.
Mauls and rucks were few and far between in the first half, Galwegians opting instead to feed on-hand support at the tackle. As Cooke defenders fell, the ball advanced. General movement has always been a strength of this team preferring to breach defences beyond structured parameters. In taking the ball through the contact, ‘Wegians found little need to “create” space, but simply “enjoy” it.
Lisa McDonagh grabbed a treble, and upon regathering a Cooke fumble, was instrumental in Nuala Ni Chadhain’s first-half try as well. McDonagh, still adjusting to the winger’s trade staked a claim on Sunday for higher honours, her off-the-ball work yielding a much greater return when on it.
In support, Katie McDonagh, Sabina Egan, Margaret Fitzgibbon and scrumhalf superglue link extraordinaire Sorcha Ni Chadhain were instrumental in continuity. Blindside Maire Murray, skipper Emer O'Dowd, and inside back combination Clare Raftery and Nuala Ni Chadhain were faultless in defence.
Carol Staunton, Rebecca McPhilbin, Fitzgibbon again, and Reilly all shone as ball-carriers, while Lisa McDonagh's positional nous and tactical kicking game was near perfect.
It has taken the best part of four months, but the Blue Belles are approaching the lofty heights of last season's latter stages. Long may it continue throughout what the greater Galwegian club hopes is are long and successful Cup rugby campaigns.