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Club Notes | Killarney U18 Girls Reach Munster League Final

23rd January 2024 By The Editor

Club Notes | Killarney U18 Girls Reach Munster League Final

The Killarney U18 Girls squad celebrate their win over Clonakilty. Photo Credit: Killarney RFC

Our latest edition of Club Notes comes from Killarney RFC with the club’s U18 Girls squad securing passage to the Munster Girls U18 League final.

By Liam Murphy, Killarney RFC PRO. 

Killarney U18 Girls advanced to the Munster League Final, after a super result last Saturday in Clonakilty. Played in horrendous weather conditions, this was never going to be a high scoring game.

Killarney won the toss and started with the wind and dominated both territory and possession for the entire half but couldn’t covert several good scoring opportunities and after some good play by both Killarney backs and forwards, the Killarney out-half Fia Whelan was held up over the line. The Clonakilty defence was excellent throughout the game and both sides’ tackling was of the highest standard. The score at half time was 0-0 and advantage to the home team in this evenly contested match.

Right from the kick off the second half, Killarney showed they meant business, and continued to have long periods of possession but any mistakes were severely punished with the strong wind and the kicking tactics of the home side. The first points of the game went to Clonakilty who converted a penalty from just outside the 22, 3-0 to Clonakilty.

Right from restart Killarney attacked and again threw everything they could at the home side’s defence but again they withheld the constant Killarney pressure. Then with 15 minutes to go, Killarney gained valuable hard yards through a series of magnificent carries from Ava O’Malley, Lily Morris, Ella Guerin, Annie O’Reilly, Molly Gabbett and Cara Reilly.

They went through nine phases which was a massive achievement, as the handling conditions deteriorated, then Killarney Co-Captain Fia Whelan saw the opportunity to unlock the home defence and landed a perfect chip ahead over the on-rushing players and was just about to gather to go under the posts but was tackled without the ball and referee had no hesitation to award the penalty try, 03-07 to the visitors.

A view of last weekend’s semi-final between Clonakilty and Killarney. Photo Credit: Killarney RFC

Over the last 15 minutes, both sides played incredibley impressive rugby in the conditions and after some heroic tackling by the Kerry girls notably Clodagh Foley, Melissa McCarthy, Ali O’Donoghue, and Joanne O’Keefe, the Killarney girls held on for a well-deserved win.

Killarney Coach Diarmuid O’Malley said: “To come down to West Cork and beat a very good Clonakilty side was very pleasing. We always ask for 100% commitment and the girls today gave a lot more and needed to, to get the job done. I couldn’t single out any one girl today as today was all about the entire squad giving it there all, and that’s exactly what they did.

“We had one girl Mary Ellen McDonald who just arrived back from a skiing school tour this morning at 5am, the easiest option was for her to look out the window at the weather and stay in bed but no, she wanted to play this match. Girls’ rugby in Munster is in a very strong place with the numbers growing across every club.

“Clonakilty have nearly 200 girls playing rugby now which is a massive achievement and takes a huge amount of work at grassroots level by clubs and Munster coaches and administrators. Today we had a Listowel girl, Cara Reilly make her starting debut and slotted in seamlessly but that wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work that is been done in clubs like Listowel, Killorglin, Iveragh, Tralee and across Kerry and the province with girls starting to play rugby from much earlier ages now.”

Next up for the Killarney girls is the Munster League final against Ennis on Saturday the February 3rd.

Killarney

1. Annie O’Reilly
2. Ella Guerin-Crowley
3. Molly Gabbett
4. Joanne O’Keefe
5. Melissa Mc Carthy
6. Clodagh Foley
7. Lily Morris (joint captain)
8. Ava O Malley
9. Bronagh Dorian
10. Fia Whelan (joint captain)
11. Holly O’Sullivan
12. Cara Reilly
13. Ali O Donoghue
14. Mary Ellen Mc Donald
15. Marina Eagar
16. Jess O’Sullivan
17. Niamh Enright
18. Sarah Slattery
19. Isabella O’Leary

Coaches:

Josh Whelan
Diarmuid O Malley
Manager: Elaine Clifford

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