Old Belvedere 26
OLD BELVEDERE BACKED their stunning form from throughout this season to seal the Women’s AIL Division 1A title in a fast-paced final against an extremely dogged Blackrock.
It was clear from kick off under the Donnybrook lights that this would be a high-intensity match. Blackrock were keen to knock the defending champions off their perch as in the match’s opening moments they attacked with great gusto.
However, when after just three minutes with Blackrock making all the metres, a stray pop pass from Ireland international Vikki McGinn found its way into the hands of outside centre Elise O’Byrne White, who capitalised to touch down for Old Belvedere.
After starting so brightly Blackrock were not willing to succumb and their work rate was immense. Talented inside centre Jeamie Deacon and former Canadian international number eight Jessica Belchos were running lots of hard lines, making life difficult for the opposing defenders.
Old Belvedere began to leak penalties due to the sustained Blackrock pressure and referee Helen O’Reilly sent try scorer O’Byrne White to the sin bin just before the half hour mark. Just seven minutes later Niamh Fitzgerald also saw yellow and the league holders were down to 13 players.
Blackrock’s persistence finally paid off when wing Tammy Breen scored after 35 minutes but Deacon missed the conversion, meaning the sides went into the break at 5-5.
Jeamie Deacon of Blackrock tackles Kamila Rousova of Old Belvedere Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO
After the interval, there was a reversal of fortunes with Old Belvedere making all the attacking metres. There was a big blow for Blackrock when their captain Debbie Clarke O’Connor was yellow carded on 48 minutes.
After a number of scuppered chances ‘Belvo scored via replacement prop Roisin O’Donnell with Nora Stapleton adding the extras.
From the hour mark the pressure began to get to both sides and the match drifted into being a rather cagey affair. Old Belvedere began to show their ability to close out a match and it looked as if they had sealed the title when another front row replacement Ruth McElroy went over after a series of pick and goes.
Stapleton, who had been controlling the match from out half with great composure, successfully kicked the conversion to take the score line to 19 points to five with just over five minutes on the clock.
With Old Belvedere in the driving seat, Jenny Murphy – just back from captaining Ireland at the Dubai Sevens – powered through the Blackrock defence to score under the posts.
The final score did not fully account for the massive endeavor of Blackrock’s players but yet again this season Old Belvedere showed their clinical side that keeps the silverware safely locked up at Anglesea Road.
Earlier in the afternoon on the Donnybrook back pitch, the Division 2 final was played out between Cooke and Carlow. Cooke with international players such as Ashleigh Baxter in their ranks ran out 47-0 winners.
The Ulster club will play in Division 1A next season. Next week Carlow will face St Mary’s to decide who will have the final place in the top flight for 2015.
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