- Result: Galwegians Women 33 - Cooke 0
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sun Mar 11th 2012
- Competition: AIL Womens Cup
Galwegians Women, unsuccessful semi-finalists in the All-Ireland Cup last winter find themselves back in familiar territory now after a convincing 34-nil win over Cooke of Belfast on Sunday.
En route to last year’s top-four, they dealt to Dublin’s Old Belvedere in Dublin, and Belfast Harlequins in the far north. They met current champions UL Bohemians in Annacotty and fell 3-nil.
This winter, again at semi-final time, and again away from home they meet Division Two heavyweights Tralee, who vanquished Nenagh 19-3 on Sunday.
Unlike last year, the rampant ‘Wegians women find themselves travelling to Kerry on the 25th having already beaten last year’s finalists in the previous two weeks.
If the UL Bohemians victory was an exercise in clinical discipline and stoic defence, Sunday’s Cooke encounter was a tribute to attacking football. Quite aside from posting six tries of their own, they locked Cooke out altogether.
Once again, not unlike the previous weekend’s Annacotty upset, Galwegians started with all guns blazing. Unlike last week, mistakes all-too-often reduced what might have been a musical opening aria to little more than a stammer.
That said, the Blue Belles’ defence was on song, and Cooke too were unable to press home an advantage in the first quarter.
Twenty minutes in hooker Tosh Haywood cruised through a defensive lapse eight metres from the Cooke line and never looked like slowing up.
From the opening scrum, the formidable visiting front row asserted its ascendancy on proceedings and stamped a brand of authority seldom seen this year by Glenina’s girls. Normally in the driving seat come set-piece time, Galwegians found themselves backpedalling at a rate of knots and under severe pressure at both the feed and at the back.
Bizarrely, the disparity did not carry beyond scrumtime, Galwegians clearly ahead at ruck and maul time, lineouts and kick-offs.
Cooke’s strength was a front row, ably-backed by number-eight and skipper Nikita Armstrong, which bullied Galwegians’ own and operated as a mobile reserve loose-forward trio. Galwegians, by comparison, matched them in the forwards everywhere but the scrum, and all but eclipsed them in the six numbers between 10 and 15.
While Haywood posted one score for the forwards it came from a Sorcha Ni Chadhan and Becky McPhilbin (fullback/wing) combination which began inside their own half. The two centres Nuala Ni Chadhain and Lisa McDonagh grabbed a brace each, with McPhilbin the other scorer.
That said, the forwards won near enough to all of their own breakdowns, and the best part of half the others contested. With that amount of possession, any backline can cut loose.
Tralee have had a dream run through this competition thus far, winning by default in the first round over Belfast Harlequins and overcoming seventh-placed Division Two minnows Nenagh Ormond 19-3.
They will host Galwegians this weekend in Kerry on Sunday, kick-off 2.30pm. They will do so with an innate knowledge of several visiting stars having played with several of them on recent Connacht interprovincial sides.
Tralee has amassed an astonishing 246 points from five matches conceding a miserly 20 against them. It makes for an impressive average match score of 49 points to 4. Impressive mathematically, best-measured against a 41-nil demolition of third-placed Young Munster.
Galwegians is a Division One league heavyweight, recent Paul Flood Leinster Cup champion, and responsible for halting current cup champion and longtime league titleholder UL Bohemians. Galwegians will have to sink a Division before shaking in their boots, but should best approach this semi-final the same way they approached the last two matches: with confidence, and application.