Happy new year! Old Belvedere guarantee that they'll start 2017 as AIL leaders

Old Belvedere move top on points difference as Railway Union and Highfield also win.

Old Belvedere's Nora Stapleton and Maria Kenny: Win clinches top spot as AIL takes December break (file photo).
Old Belvedere's Nora Stapleton and Maria Kenny: Win clinches top spot as AIL takes December break (file photo).
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Women’s All Ireland League Round Eight

  • Highfield 8-5 Blackrock
  • Old Belvedere 18-10 Galwegians
  • Railway Union 50-14 St Mary’s
  • UL Bohemians P-P Cooke

OLD BELVEDERE WILL go into the New Year as league leaders after their eight-point victory over Galwegians at Anglesea Road on Sunday. The defending champions clambered ahead of unbeaten UL Bohemians on points difference after the Limerick side’s game at home to Cooke from Belfast was postponed.

The new format of the league is working if the tightness of the table is anything to go by. Old Belvedere and UL Bohs are both on 32 points with four try bonus points apiece. Old Belvedere have played one more game than their Munster rivals and only their slightly better scoring difference has them a nose in front of the rest as the league takes a break for December’s interprovincial series.

Sunday’s game was a tight and odd affair with momentum hard to control for both teams because of the huge volume of turnovers conceded in contact by the two sides. The home team worked their way into a 10-0 lead in the first half with tries from hooker Jenny Finlay, deploying the afterburners of a winger, and a mazy run by Franziska Klappoth putting them in front. Ciara O’Connor pulled one back for Galwegians to leave just five points between the teams at half-time.

Laura Feeley levelled the game with her try midway through the second half, but Finlay, who had a magnificent game, popped up with her second try. Jenny Murphy, who normally plays at centre, was in the 10 role today and landed the penalty that gave Old Belvedere the victory.

“It was a strange game with plenty of turn-overs,” said Ruth McElroy of Old Belvedere.

“Jenny Murphy’s tactical kicking was excellent and when we did manage to keep the ball and go through phases, we played well.”

It was also a good weekend for Railway Union who continued their rise up the table to fourth place courtesy of a 50-14 success at home to St Mary’s. They now occupy the fourth play-off place just behind UL Bohemians and Galwegians.

Star of the show was Sinead Taylor, who scored 20 of her team’s total points, racking up two tries and five conversions. Scrumhalf Ailsa Hughes, Sarah Jane Cody and Niamh Byrne’s superlative individual try were the standout moments in Railway Union’s bonus-point victory.

Taylor is a relatively recent addition to Railway Union’s team but the army private is an enormously talented sportswoman and has represented Offaly in camogie and football and combines rugby with her role as a striker for Shelbourne Ladies in the Women’s National League.

“Her form has been improving as she plays more rugby,” said John Cronin, director of rugby at Railway Union. “She is very strong and very quick and none of her tries today were easy ones, she had to run them in from 50 or 60 metres.”

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Highfield’s back-to-back wins over Blackrock have transformed their fortunes and on Sunday they prevailed by 8-5 at home in a low-scoring game. In October the Cork team languished at the foot of the table but following their double defeat of Blackrock, they have improved to sixth and are just two points behind the Dublin team.

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Aisling Crowe

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