Ex-Ireland boss Doyle's tenure kicks off, Belvo win and the weekend's Women's AIL action

Blackrock, Railway Union and Old Belvedere all clocked opening round wins.

Women’s All-Ireland League — Round 1 review 

By Katie Byrne

Blackrock 42-22 Galwegians, Stradbrook

Philip Doyle Philip 'Goose' Doyle (file pic). Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

IT DIDN’T TAKE long for Philip ‘Goose’ Doyle’s magic to rub off on an invigorated Blackrock side as they overcame Galwegians 42-22 in their Women’s All-Ireland League opener at Stradbrook on Saturday.

While Galwegians took the lead with Lisa Anglim’s sensational breakaway try against the run of play, the two teams were evenly matched, returning score after score up until half-time in the second match of a unique men’s and women’s All-Ireland League double header between the clubs.

Blackrock captain Michelle Claffey displaying her jinking footwork in the number 10 jersey, while league debutants Laura Delaney and Caoimhe Molloy showed no signs of nerves with both players touching down in a bonus point success in Doyle’s first match in charge of ‘Rock. 

Despite the scoreline, Galwegians head coach Fraser Gow was reasonably happy with his side’s overall performance, particularly the well-deserved try-scoring bonus point, saying that ‘at least we took something from a tough away match’. 

St Mary’s 0-63 Railway Union, Templeville Road

Railway Union celebrate after the game Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

There was no fairytale return to the top tier of Women’s club rugby for St. Mary’s as they fell to a 63-0 opening defeat to an ever-impressive Railway Union team at Templeville Road.

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“Our coaches place a huge emphasis on core skills,” explained Railway winger Emer O’Mahony, and this certainly showed as they started their season with a convincing 11-try win. The sheer pace of the game proved to be a problem for Mary’s from early on, with seven of the 11 tries scored by the Railway back-line.

Railway had nine different try scorers with braces from Stephanie Carroll and Niamh Byrne, along with singles from O’Mahony, Larissa Muldoon, Garazi Goikolea, Melissa Slevin, Juliet Short, Aoife McDermott and Emma Taylor. Railway head coach John Cronin said it was not as one-sided as some might suspect, with Mary’s growing into the game. “Mary’s will certainly grow into the league with each game they play,” he said.

Cooke 7-38 Old Belvedere, Shaw’s Bridge

Nora Stapleton Nora Stapleton. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Old Belvedere blew away the early season cobwebs with a well-judged 38-7 bonus point victory over Cooke at Shaw’s Bridge. It was a frustrating afternoon for the Belfast girls whose new head coach Wayne Kelly admitted that their ‘line-speed and first-up tackles’ need to improve.

Belvedere’s lynchpin out-half Nora Stapleton showed her play-making ability for the visitors, moving the ball around the pitch with confidence. The Donegal native linked up well with her team-mates off the back of numerous scrums and in open play.

Cooke showed plenty of promise however, with Ireland Under-18 Sevens starlet Kelly McCormill putting a big shift in at centre, along with some strong scrummaging from their Ilse van Staden-propelled pack.

‘The ‘Belvo backs cut loose with Gemma Matthews, Fiona Tuite and Grace Miller all crossing the whitewash and international duo Sene Naoupu and Megan Williams (2) adding three more tries off the bench’.

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