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Belvo continue free-scoring form as Highfield battle back to share spoils in Galway

A round-up of this weekend’s action in the Women’s All-Ireland League.

Women’s All-Ireland League Round 5

Elise O'Byrne-White Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Old Belvedere 57 Blackrock 0, Anglesea Road
Tullamore 0 Cooke 22, Spollanstown
Galwegians 15 Highfield 15, Crowley Park

THE MUCH-ANTICIPATED TOP-OF-THE-TABLE clash of Railway Union and UL Bohemians might have been postponed yesterday but that did not halt the entertainment in the fifth round of the Women’s All-Ireland League as big scores and huge enthusiasm decorated proceedings, writes Michael Gallagher.

Old Belvedere continued their free-scoring form today with a 57-0 bonus-point win over Blackrock at Anglesea Road. The ‘Belvo’ women ran up 49 points last week against Tullamore but bettered that in totting up 57 against their south Dublin rivals.

In truth, there was little doubt about the result after the first quarter as Belvo’s smart offloading game was causing their opponents all sorts of difficulties. Alison Miller, Linda Djougang, Jenny Murphy and their team-mates were carrying the fight to ‘Rock at every opportunity and the scores racked up.

The tries came thick and fast: there were hat-tricks from Miller and Djougang, with Murphy, Kathryn Dane and Elise O’Byrne-White scoring one apiece.

Following the game, head coach Joshua Brown said he was delighted with his charges, noting that the hard work on their attacking shape and timing of their offloads was paying dividends.

Blackrock captain Michelle Claffey said that while her team were very disappointed with the result, they believe there is much more to come from the squad this season.

“We have a lot of work to do over the next few weeks in order to rectify identified weaknesses and we’ll work hard to do so,” she said.

Third-placed Cooke followed up last week’s hard-fought win over Highfield with another victory on the road in Tullamore. The home side worked hard throughout but their failure to turn opportunities into scores once again proved to be their achilles heel.

The first half was a flustered affair with neither side setting the world alight, but Cooke made the most of their chances and some hard work and decent hands led to three tries from Teah Maguire, Eliza Downey and Brittany Hogan before half time, with Jemma Jackson adding a conversion.

Tullamore came out in determined fashion after the break and used their offloading game effectively, but a passionate defence from Cooke refused to yield a score. The Belfast side pushed for the bonus point try and it arrived in in the final quarter from Maguire after some excellent team play out wide.

Highfield came from behind to secure a share of the spoils at Crowley Park after Galwegians, who have moved up to sixth in the table, had led 10-0 and 15-10.

The game was an entertaining, physical battle at all times and ‘Wegians began impressively, integrating backs and forwards for Edel ‘Tricky’ McMahon to touch down. They doubled their advantage when Risa Egerter got on the end of a flashy move out wide.

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That left the home side well clear but Highfield hit back before the break when Leah Lyons rewarded some powerful forward play with a fine try to make it a five-point deficit at the interval at 10-5.

Galwegians began the second half explosively when Egerter got over for her second try of the day and the Blue Belles led 15-5 as they eyed a crucial victory but Highfield had other ideas. Ireland star Lyons drove her side up the pitch with some smart kicking and when the forwards created another opportunity, she was on hand to get her second try of the day to close the gap to 15-10.

The home side reacted well to that setback and launched a series of attacks but when Highfield’s Heather O’Brien gained possession near her own posts and brilliantly ran the length of the pitch to touch down, the scores were tied and that is the way it stayed up to the final whistle.

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Michael Gallagher

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