- Result: Galwegians Women 67 - Cooke 15
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sun Sep 23rd 2012
- Competition: AIL Womens League
Galwegians, so often in recent years in arrears after week one, rewrote the script in Belfast on Sunday running in 11 tries to two for a 67-15 win over Cooke.
Having bid farewell to three senior stalwarts following their landmark All-Ireland Cup victory last winter, Galwegians sought midweek to shore up the gaps vacated by Connacht-capped Emer O'Dowd and Sarah Healy, and test veteran Nuala Ni Chadhain. If the trio was missed on Sunday, it wasn't by much.
Fullback/centre Lisa McDonagh slotted in seamlessly outside number 10 and skipper Clare Raftery for Ni Chadhain's spot, openside flanker Carol Staunton ably-assumed O'Dowd's number-eight jersey, and Belfast ring-in Emma Kerr stood in on Healy's left wing.
Guilty so often of opening games with the handbrake on, the new-look Wegians tore into the opening quarter with a physicality more becoming of five or six weeks worth of a season under their belt. Largely responsible were tight-fivers Ruth O'Reilly, Beth Mallard and Katie McDonagh. McDonagh fielded the lion's share of restarts relishing the opportunity to launch at the swarming Cooke defence.
Cooke's pack fared well pound-for-pound in the initial shunt come scrumtime but were outhooked on all but two occasions by Tosh Haywood - who won all her own ball as well. Similarly, Cooke looked solid defending the set-piece and first phase but were found wanting beyond the initial breakdown as blue backs and forwards alike found ample space among the hosts' white jerseys.
Raftery plugged for position and forced the northerners to counter from within their own 40m, and the ever-present Haywood, Staunton and second-rower Heather Cary ensured breakouts in broken play were few and far between.
Galwegians surrendered their first try having scored two of their own to a penalty to go 12-8 ahead 12 minutes in but guaranteed the four-try bonus at the 30-minute mark, and racked up two more before halftime hit.
Wegians kicked off the second spell 36-8 ahead and despite staying scoreless for 15minutes scored three on the trot before 25minute ticked over.
Apart from a Carol Staunton plug down a vacant blindside 60m out, and a Lisa McDonagh intercept, the nine remaining tries came by way of sustained phase play and pressure from backs and forwards in concert.
Field position courtesy of skipper Raftery's educated right boot (assisted on occasion by Lisa McDonagh's own as well) enabled the visitors to mount attack after attack from within the Cooke 40m.
At 67-15, points for elevates Galwegians to the table top after round one albeit by the narrowest margin given Highfield (Cork), Old Belvedere and UL Bohemians all rustled up convincing victories over Blackrock, division one newbies Tralee and St Mary's respectively.
Galwegians host UL Bohemians on Sunday afternoon.
Galwegians (Lisa McDonagh 2, Beth Mallard 2, Carol Staunton 2, Clare Raftery, Maire Murray, Sorcha Ni Chadhain, Heather Cary, Ruth O'Reilly, tries; Clare Raftery 6conv) 67, beat Cooke 15. Halftime 36-8