Cooke 6 â00 Clonmel 13
Clonmel had to make the long trek to Belfast to take on Cooke in the All-Ireland Cup semi-final on Sunday last. In what can only be described as far from ideal conditions Clonmel came away with an excellent victory. The wind and hail showers did not deter the girls from a fine win that saw them reach the All Ireland Cup final for the first time.
Playing against a strong wind Clonmel had Cooke under pressure from the off. Great play from the pack saw Cooke concede an early penalty in front of the posts, which out-half Niamh Briggs, fresh from International duty, slotted over to give Clonmel an early lead. For the rest of the half Clonmelâ00s defense stood strong with come fine tackles being made by Sadhbh Dromey and Mairead Lyons. As half-time approached it became obvious that Clonmelâ00s pack were getting on top of a much fancied Cooke team and were able to provide a platform for the backs to clear our lines.
The second half started off pretty much the same as the first ended with Clonmel again putting ferocious pressure on Cooke and keeping them pinned in their own 22. After having 3 balls held up over the line, Kate O' Loughlin made a fine break off the back of the scrum, took out two defenders and laid off a pass to Bernie Carrageen to touch down in the corner. Our back-row of Jean Lonergan, Helen Hegarty and Kate O'Loughlin were dominating and it was only a matter of time before their dominance paid off as Kate touched down for our second try. With both conversions missed Clonmel took a 13-0 lead heading into the final quarter. Then Cooke hit a purple patch and some poor discipline let Cooke back into the game with 2 well taken penalties. Clonmelâ00s defense held firm and even though it was scrambled at times Cooke could find no way through. A last ditch tackle inside our 22 by full back Rebecca Hallahan just at the death helped Clonmel to a hard fought victory over our northern counterparts and paved a way for us into the cup final.
There were some excellent displays from Clonmel especially in the pack, while the backs were as good defensively as they have been all season. It is now back to the drawing board as the team prepare for a much anticipated cup final against fellow league semi-finalists Highfield, on Easter Sunday in Navan RFC.