Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
# Final Countdown
Old Belvedere and UL Bohemian clinch spots in AIL final
Semif-finals serve up thrilling rugby despite the difficult conditions.

Blackrock 13 – 18 Old Belvedere

UL BOHEMIAN WILL do battle with Old Belvedere in the final of the Women’s All Ireland League next week after they came out on top in their respective semi-finals today.

Storm Desmond was hitting the headlines this weekend but this did not deter from the exciting action today which showcased the best of the women’s club game.

Due to the inclement conditions both fixtures had delayed kick-off times and there was a change of venue for UL Bohemian’s semi-final against Railway Union from Annacotty to the University of Limerick artificial pitch 4G.

First up were Blackrock, who finished the regular season in second place, hosting reigning champions Old Belvedere at Stradbrook in a close encounter. Their last meeting in September was also a tight affair with Blackrock winning 6-5 at home.

The visitors began brightly in attack but the Rock women showed their grit in defence and when the time came they took their chances extremely well, opening the scoring just after 20 minutes with wing Carrie Hanley running in for a try. Ireland international Jeamie Deacon, playing at inside centre, failed to add the extras.

However, Old Belvedere showed their pedigree as Sophie Spence crashed over the line just a few minutes later. Two-time Six Nations winning out-half Nora Stapleton also missed her conversion.

Sophie Spence scores a try Donall Farmer / INPHO Sophie Spence touches down for Old Belvedere. Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

Showing the break-neck pace of the game, Blackrock replied straight after the kick-off as Deacon ran a hard line to score in the left corner on 29 minutes. She could not convert from a tricky angle.

Putting Blackrock under pressure at scrum time led to a successful penalty kick from Stapleton at the 35-minute mark. The score at half-time was 10-8 to Blackrock.

The Belvo girls began the second half as they had the first, applying the pressure in attack and this was eventually awarded with another three-pointer from Stapleton at 48 minutes, which edged the visitors into a 10-11 lead.

As with the ebbing and flowing rhythm of the game, Blackrock pushed back ahead with a Deacon penalty at 60 minutes after Old Belvedere’s openside flanker Niamh Fitzgerald was sent to the sin-bin for consistently not rolling away at the ruck.

Yet again Old Belvedere held their composure to come back ahead with a try from hooker Sharon Lynch at 72 minutes after a superb lineout steal from Spence.

Stapleton’s conversion proved to be the final score of the game, the match finishing 13-18 in favour of Old Belvedere.

UL Bohemian 21 – 16 Railway Union RFC

A physical yet open encounter was played between UL Bohemian and Railway Union. The last meeting between these two sides was a low-scoring 6-3 win in favour of the Limerick side in Annacotty in the competition’s opening round in September.

Despite Ireland and Munster captain Niamh Briggs playing at out-half scoring all of her side’s 10 points in the first half, including a try under the posts the Bohs’ forward pack were the stars of the show with some great work from the likes of back-row Chloe Pearse and lock Aoife O’Sullivan.

Railway’s first half scores came via a Cliodhna Moloney try converted by Ireland sevens player Kim Flood and a Flood penalty. Going into the interval it was 10 points apiece.

Despite another penalty from Flood early in the second half, Railway could not break through and the Limerick side gained momentum when O’Sullivan crossed the white wash at 52 minutes. A penalty from Flood three minutes later would be the Dubliners’ final score of the evening.

Briggs’ 62-minute penalty proved to be the match-sealing score for the home side, Bohs running out 21-16 winners to book a date with Old Belvedere in Donnybrook next Saturday.

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