Railway Union wrap up first-ever league and cup double in style

The Dublin side won today’s Energia AIL Women’s Cup final, while Blackrock College triumphed in the plate decider.

Energia All-Ireland Women’s Cup finals round-up

Energia AIL Women’s Cup final

Railway Union 51-12 UL Bohemians, Templeville Road

Railway Union scorers

Tries: Erin Coll, Niamh Byrne 3, Tess Feury, Ava Ryder, Chisom Ugwueru, Aimee Clarke, Lindsay Peat; Cons: Christine Coffey 2, Lindsay Peat

UL Bohemians scorers

Tries: Aoife Corey, Eilis Cahill; Con: Rachel Allen

RAILWAY UNION WRAPPED up their first-ever Energia All-Ireland League and Cup double in fine style with a 51-12 final defeat of UL Bohemians at Templeville Road.

Captain Niamh Byrne shone with a hat-trick of tries and there were nine in all from John Cronin’s charges who, despite missing 16 players due to Ireland commitments, closed out the domestic season in dominant fashion.

Disappointed to miss out on Six Nations selection, Byrne’s slickly-finished brace of tries guided Railway to a 22-0 half-time lead, with Erin Coll and Tess Feury also touching down

lindsay-peat-jumps-through-the-winners-board Lindsay Peat (front, centre) and Railway Union celebrate. Evan Treacy / INPHO Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Kate McCarthy and Daisy Earle had powerful presences up front, and while Railway’s scrum also had the upper hand, UL were able to punch some holes with their forward carrying.

Number 8 Clodagh O’Halloran was Bohs’ best player, helping to spark tries for Aoife Corey and replacement Eilis Cahill, but Railway’s breakdown smarts and elusive running ensured they passed the half-century mark.

Second-half tries from Ava Ryder, Byrne, Chisom Ugwueru, on her first team debut, replacement Aimee Clarke and the ageless Lindsay Peat saw Cronin’s side lift the All-Ireland Cup just a few weeks after retaining their league crown.

Railway had the better of the early exchanges, skipper Byrne an incisive runner as they began to stretch a resolute UL Bohemians defence. The pressure resulted in O’Halloran seeing yellow for a stray hand at a ruck.

Peat’s barnstorming run up into the 22 deserved a try, but Niamh Kavanagh’s crucial tackle, combined with Stephanie Nunan getting over the ball, saw UL win a relieving penalty.

Railway’s persistence paid off in the 18th minute as good passing opened up an overlap on the right and centre Coll was able to finish off the opening five-pointer.

They struck again just three minutes later, centre Byrne shrugging off a tackle and accelerating clean through to score from the edge of the 22, with a final fend-off to boot.

Christine Coffey converted with the aid of the left hand post, and Railway soon added an opportunist third score when a threatening Bohs break broke down between Corey and Alana McInerney.

Byrne swooped in to pick up the loose ball and burst through from 40 metres out, with the chasing Abbie Salter-Townshend unable to prevent her from scoring. Coffey missed the conversion from the left, leaving it 17-0.

Leading the response for the Niamh Briggs-coached UL outfit, McInerney did really well to collect an instinctive kick through from her centre partner Kavanagh.

However, Claire Bennett was stopped short from a quickly-taken penalty and Byrne was in first at a subsequent breakdown to win a Railway penalty.

The Dubliners were clinical again closing in on the interval, prop Peat gobbling up possession from a big counter ruck. Nice interplay between Aoife O’Shaughnessy and flanker McCarthy then sent USA international Feury tearing away to score in the left corner.

A Kavanagh interception and a superb Rachel Allen offload put Bohs on the front foot on the resumption, but once more Railway were edging the breakdown battle with the excellent Deirdre Roberts and Byrne both earning penalties.

The league winners managed to break from deep, some well-timed passes releasing Ryder to romp home from the right wing. Scrum half Coffey converted the try, widening the margin to 29 points.

UL’s bench had a timely impact, Lily Brady and Michelle Ring both carrying strongly and improved ruck clear-outs provided quicker ball. The forwards carried up close before good hands put winger Corey over for an 53rd-minute unconverted try.

Nonetheless, any hopes of a concerted comeback from the Red Robins were extinguished by Byrne’s hat-trick score, which saw her jink over after good work by the freshly-introduced Ugwueru and wily prop Peat.

clodagh-ohalloran-with-lindsay-peat-after-the-game UL Bohemian's Clodagh O'Halloran with Lindsay Peat of Railway Union after the game. Evan Treacy / INPHO Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Coll added a drop-kicked conversion and Ugwueru, with only her second touch, darted away up the left wing with aplomb for Railway’s seventh try of the afternoon.

Bohs cancelled that one out when replacement Cahill crashed over, rewarding an initial break by back rower O’Halloran, but Railway still had more in the tank.

Lisa Callan had a very good cameo off the bench, featuring in the build-up to two closing tries from the Sandymount side, who had moved the versatile Roberts to scrum half.

Clarke showed impressive pace to run in the penultimate score, and then Peat, collecting Callan’s offload, produced a swan dive in under the posts. She also displayed her kicking skills with a successful final conversion.

RAILWAY UNION: Aoife O’Shaughnessy; Tess Feury, Niamh Byrne (capt), Erin Coll, Ava Ryder; Hazel Simmons, Christine Coffey; Lindsay Peat, Chloe Blackmore, Megan Collis, Keelin Brady, Siobhan McCarthy, Kate McCarthy, Deirdre Roberts, Daisy Earle.

Replacements: Aimee Clarke, Grainne O’Loughlin, Lisa Callan, Sonia McDermott, Molly Boyne, Alex McGuinness, Emer O’Mahony, Chisom Ugwueru.

UL BOHEMIANS: Stephanie Nunan; Aoibhinn O’Loughlin, Alana McInerney, Niamh Kavanagh, Aoife Corey; Rachel Allen, Abbie Salter-Townshend; Leah Sweeney, Kate Sheehan, Fiona Reidy, Claire Bennett, Ciara O’Halloran, Aaliyah Te Pou, Sarah O’Gorman, Clodagh O’Halloran.

Replacements: Aoife O’Sullivan, Geena Behan, Eilis Cahill, Michelle Ring, Caoimhe O’Neill, Lily Brady, Lorraine O’Connor.

Referee: Kat Roche (USA).


Engergia AIL Women’s plate final

Cooke 12-24 Blackrock College, Templeville Road

Cooke scorers

Tries: Katie Hetherington, Naomi McCord; Cons: Amanda Morton

Blackrock College scorers

Tries: Judy Bobbett, Jackie Shiels, Maggie Boylan; Cons: Jackie Shiels 3; Pen: Jackie Shiels

Jackie Shiels played a starring role as Blackrock College overcame fast-starting Cooke to be crowned Energia All-Ireland Plate champions at Templeville Road.

With her side trailing 12-7, experienced centre Shiels kicked a penalty before half-time and then converted her own try and Maggie Boylan’s 56th-minute effort for a hard-earned 24-12 win.

Coming into the final with three straight wins, Cooke laid down an early marker as tries from Katie Hetherington and Naomi McCord propelled them into a 12-10 half-time lead.

Blackrock hit back with a Judy Bobbett score, converted by Shiels, before they kicked it up a gear in the second half despite Ann-Marie Rooney’s sin-binning.

blackrock-college-celebrate-winning Blackrock College celebrate winning. Evan Treacy / INPHO Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

It was a superb performance from Cooke, but Blackrock’s greater experience told as they ended the season with silverware, bouncing back from their recent All-Ireland League final defeat to Railway Union.

Ulster captain Beth Cregan was central to Cooke’s strong start in the sunny conditions, her quick-tapping of penalties producing two early try-scoring chances.

Helen McGhee was pulled back for a forward pass from Amanda Morton, but the quick-thinking Cregan brought Cooke up to the line again in the fifth minute and flanker Hetherington was able to lunge over from the ruck.

Following Morton’s missed conversion, Blackrock, who were without their 15s and Sevens internationals, wasted little time in threatening a levelling score with former international Shiels and their pacy back-three making headway.

Blackrock also sought a high tempo, with Lisa Mullen’s quick tap and pass allowing powerful lock Bobbett to barge over to the right of the posts. Shiels converted for a 7-5 ‘Rock lead.

Cooke moved back in front midway through the half, a typically forceful carry from Ilse van Staden igniting the attack and a sidestepping Dolores Hughes gaining further ground out wide.

Centres Lucy Thompson and Kelly McCormill brought them closer before another quick tap from Cregan paved the way for their second try, athletic lock McCord breaking in behind the posts with Morton supplying the extras.

Cooke’s defence then stood firm despite a brilliant break from deep by Blackrock full-back Boylan. Meadbh Scally carried closer in but the ever-influential Cregan managed to hold her up.

Ben Martin’s Blackrock side had a late purple patch approaching the interval, maintaining their presence in the Cooke half and a Shiels penalty to cut the gap to just two points.

The Meath woman increased her influence on the restart, threatening from a chip-and-chase before she used scrum ball to wriggle free from two defenders and touch down on a clever burst to the whitewash.

Shiels converted her own try, edging the Dubliners into a 17-12 lead, and with Boylan and Caoimhe O’Callaghan showing their speed in the wide channels, Cooke’s defensive workload was ramping up.

It took its toll in the 56th minute, Mairead Holohan going close with a strong carry before a neat necklace of passes via Mullen, captain Val Power, Shiels and Ellen Taite freed up Boylan to make it 22-12.

Shiels’ deft conversion cleared the crossbar to take her tally to 14 points, but Cooke knuckled down, looking to profit from Rooney’s sin-binning for a high tackle on the hour mark.

With their scrum becoming more of a weapon, Cooke hammered away and excellent number 8 India Daley and van Staden did get them into try-scoring range.

However, Blackrock kept them out, a combination of Shiels and Scally earning a relieving penalty and they closed out the game in Cooke territory, grinding out a deserved result in the end.

COOKE: Dolores Hughes; Claire Johnston, Lucy Thompson, Kelly McCormill (capt), Tamzin Boyce; Amanda Morton, Hannah Downey; Ilse van Staden, Beth Cregan, Fiona McCaughan, Naomi McCord, Helen McGhee, Megan Simpson, Katie Hetherington, India Daley.

Replacements: Eimear McQuillan, Sorcha Mac Laimhin, Cara O’Kane, Teah Maguire, Georgia Boyce.

BLACKROCK COLLEGE: Maggie Boylan; Caoimhe O’Callaghan, Adele Leogue, Jackie Shiels, Ray Lawless; Val Power (capt), Lisa Mullen; Aoife Moore, Niamh Tester, Joanna Mahon, Eimear Corri, Judy Bobbett, Mairead Holohan, Ann-Marie Rooney, Ali Coleman.

Replacements: Manuela McCarthy, Riana Roche, Meadbh Scally, Hannah Hodges, Anna Potterton, Laura Delaney, Ellen Taite.

Referee: Katie Byrne (IRFU).

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