Class Act

In-form Niamh Briggs shines once again as UL Bohs beat Railway Union

Meanwhile, there were wins for Cooke and Blackrock in the Women’s AIL.

UL Bohemians 35

Railway Union 19

TWO-TIME SIX Nations winner Niamh Briggs and talented teenager Enya Breen played leading roles as UL Bohemians triumphed 35-19 in their Women’s All-Ireland League clash with leaders Railway Union.

Niamh Briggs Niamh Briggs is Bohs colours [file photo]. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

As the title contenders went head-to-head on the University of Limerick’s 4G pitch, out-half Briggs stood out with a 15-point haul and was a driving force for Bohs. Railway head coach John Cronin noted her impact, saying she “played with a smile on her face and controlled the game, kicking well from hand and tee.”

19-year-old centre Breen “showed the promise that she had with Munster at U18 level” with a very solid performance, as the defending champions racked up five tries.

Avenging their November defeat to Railway, UL had an early try from Briggs who added a terrific touchline conversion and also kicked two penalties on the way to establishing an 18-7 half-time lead.

Edel Murphy, Chloe Pearse, the joint-player-of-the-match with Briggs, Clodagh O’Halloran and Rosie Newton also crossed the whitewash, with back rower Pearse finishing off an excellent team try ten minutes into the second half for an 18-point advantage. Railway got a little closer with their three tries scored by Katelyn Faust, Katie O’Dwyer and Emma Taylor.

The table-topping Dubliners are now just a point clear of the Red Robins, who have a game in hand, in the race for the home semi-final berths. Cronin fielded a young squad that included thirteen players in their first year of Women’s All-Ireland League rugby, and he added: “Hopefully we’ll be meeting Bohs again before the league is done.”

Blackrock 48

St Mary’s 0

Blackrock climbed above Old Belvedere into third place thanks to a resounding 48-0 bonus point victory over bottom side St. Mary’s. Philip Doyle’s side were boosted by the return of their top scorer Hannah O’Connor at number 8 and she finished with 13 points following a try and four well-struck conversions.

Hannah O'Connor with Rachel Allen Hannah O'Connor returned for Blackrock [file photo]. Ben Whitley / INPHO Ben Whitley / INPHO / INPHO

Mary’s made an encouraging start at Stradbrook with several entries into the Blackrock 22, but once the deadlock was broken, the hosts were able to take control of the scoreboard. Winger Roisin Crowe went over out wide for the game’s opening try and flanker Grace Kelly soon converted forward pressure into points.

A well-executed team move saw young winger Maeve Og O’Leary touch down on the half hour mark, with Ray Lawless securing the bonus point with a slashing run through the heart of the Mary’s defence just before the break. Blackrock’s offloading and support play was causing havoc for the Mary’s defence despite the strong tackling of captain Aoife Moore, Heather Cary and Annie Laffan.

Ali Coleman, Amy Cotter, O’Leary and O’Connor rounded off the scoring in the second half, making Blackrock the league’s top try scorers with 31 tries ahead of the final three rounds. St. Mary’s are not involved in the next round so Stephen Costelloe and his squad will be keen to regroup in the coming weeks and finish what has been a testing season on a more positive note.

Cooke 22

Galwegians 17

Cooke returned to winning ways with a well-judged 22-17 success at home to Galwegians, putting an end to a four-match losing run. Cooke head coach Wayne Kelly described it as “a very physical encounter” and his players had to come from behind after ‘Wegians number 8 Denise Redmond registered her eighth try of the league season.

Kathryn Dane with Vicky Irwin after the game Ulster's Vicky Irwin [right] kicked seven points for Cooke. Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

“We dominated the first half and they couldn’t handle the intensity of the carries from our forwards,” said the visitors’ head coach Fraser Gow, but ultimately it was Cooke who produced the goods and proved more clinical courtesy of tries from winger Maeve Liston, full-back Kate Keaney and lock Naomi McCullagh. Out-half Vicky Irwin supplied seven points with the boot.

The result keeps Cooke just about in the semi-final hunt for another round at least, and Kelly said afterwards: “We took our chances well this week and were able to close out the game. We started slow allowing them to get an early try, but for the middle 60 minutes of the game, we dominated possession and field position.”

‘Wegians have three tough fixtures to finish their campaign, facing Belvedere, Railway and Bohs, but Gow knows his team – when at their consistent best – are capable of pushing the league’s leading clubs.

“It’s difficult coming away from games that you could and should have won, but it just makes us more determined to respond next time out,” he remarked.

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