Ladies Rugby - Round 5 of All Ireland Division 1 College League
UCC 17 - NUIG 14
The visitors came within two minutes of a huge win at the Mardyke's rugby pitch last Thursday but were beaten in heart-breaking fashion right at the end. UCC came into this crucial game with two key players sidelined, Orlagh Ryan missed out entirely with a damaged wrist while Aoife Deasy was deemed unfit to start the game after injuring her ankle against UL. The game could have gone either way but College will be delighted that it was they who walked away with the points.
Galway started the game much the better and pressured the UCC line in the opening minutes. This pressure resulted in a succession of penalties being conceded by the home team. The early onslaught came agonisingly close to producing the opening try but the College defence held on before managing to turn the ball over. Now it was their turn to advance on the opposition and Tamar Jayawardene's neat offload to Roisin Fahey allowed the winger to make good ground before being tackled into touch. College continued to advance slowly but failed to get quick ball to the wings to expose NUIG. It was difficult to see how they would pierce this Galway line but the answer came in the 34th minute. Finally the ball came fast to the numbers out wide and Jayawardene once more offloaded to Fahey, who crossed the line. Clare Rigney failed to add the extras. Rigney was having an excellent game however, driving her team on and the Captain was behind much of College's better play. The home side saw out the half comfortably but they were in for a much more shaky second 40 minutes.
With only six minutes gone in the second half, Carol Staunton produced a devastating line break on her own 22 before sidestepping two challenges to find herself clean through on the halfway line. She had the pace and stamina to reach the line and touch down under the posts. Anne O' Callaghan added the conversion to put her side two points ahead. UCC immediately tried to restore their lead and did so in the 11th minute through Jane O' Rahelly. After going through a couple of phases on the edge of the Galway line, O' Rahelly pushed her way through for the try. Rigney's subsequent conversion attempt dropped short. If her place-kicking was letting her down, the centre's tactical kicking remained sound in a parallel to former UCC student, Ronan O' Gara's last International game. Her cross field kick showed razor sharp thinking and was very unlucky not to find the hands of Fahey.
College almost surrendered their lead again in the 65th minute when Staunton looked to be through again, only for an excellent last-ditch tackle by Sinead Cremin. Galway did however regain the lead just 8 minutes later as Staunton produced another line break and strode under the posts for her second try of the game. O'Callaghan was again successful with the conversion. This was the signal for the home side to introduce Aoife Deasy, so often the spark for this College team.
Galway appeared to be seeing out the game with relative comfort and spent most of the remainder of the game in possession in the UCC half. They even looked like extending their lead towards the end. However a turnover in the final two minutes found Deasy with ball in hand on her own line. She beat two challenges before toe poking the ball past another; two more kicks found the winger clean through and within metres of the line only for her to be pulled back illegally before she could cross over. The referee awarded the penalty try immediately and College jumped for joy and breathed a sigh of relief all at once. Rigney added the conversion to seal a dramatic three point victory for UCC.
UCC: F Casey, L Barry, T Thorman, C Rigney(Cpt.), R Fahey, T Jayawardene, J Barry, J O' Rahelly, M Wood, S Ni Riain, M Keohane, C McCarthy, B Arnott, S Cremin, H Horvath. Replacements: L Shanahan, H Glynn, N Flanagan, L Kelly, Y Hickey, A Deasy
NUIG: A Mohan, C Kinnarvey, N Kelly, C Staunton, S Keating, A Condell, A O' Callaghan (Cpt.), M Moriarty, M Mulkerris, M Byrne, K Stephens, L Kelly, J Handel, N Quinn, R O' Neill. Replacements: E Egan, N Scully, A Nolan, F Cantwell.
Referee: B. Brunt. MAR