Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 8°C
# Decider
Dramatic Belvo win sets up All-Ireland league final against UL Bohs
Jackie Shiels scored all the points in a victory over Railway Union, while Bohs beat Galwegians well.

IRFU All Ireland League Semi-finals

Jackie Shiels Ryan Byrne / INPHO Jackie Shiels was a key figure for Belvo in their semi-final win. [file photo] Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

UL Bohemians 41 – 17 Galwegians

Railway Union 12 – 13 Old Belvedere
Willow Lodge

OLD BELVEDERE NABBED a dramatic victory over Railway Union in Sandymount to secure their place in next weekend’s All Ireland League Final, where they will take on UL Bohemians.

Railway Union built up a nine-point lead midway through the second half thanks to tries from Niamh Byrne and Kim Flood, but Old Belvedere, who were hunting for a fourth final appearance in a row, showed the benefit of their nous and experience to pull off an improbable triumph.

The tension was ratcheted up when the game was halted at a critical juncture so that an injury to Old Belvedere’s scrumhalf Katherine Dane could be treated.

Dane suffered a blow to the neck and shoulder area with six minutes remaining on the clock, her team holding a slender one-point lead and Railway Union attacking five metres from the line.

Play resumed after a break of roughly 30 minutes, the time it took for an ambulance to arrive and Dane to be conveyed appropriately on board. Her injury is not believed to be serious at this time.

Wave upon wave of Railway Union’s attack crashed on the rocks of Old Belvedere’s defence in those final six minutes.

Kim Flood kicks Ryan Byrne / INPHO Kim Flood scored a try for Railway Union. [file photo] Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“It was a hugely intense game,” said thrilled Old Belvedere forward Ruth McElroy. “In those final few minutes we put in seven smashing tackles in a row and drove them from our five-metre line back to the 22. We got a penalty and took the lineout with ten seconds to go, kept possession and then, when time was up, kicked it out.”

Old Belvedere’s comeback from 5-3 down at half time and a deficit of 12-3 in the second half was orchestrated by Jackie Shiels, who scored all 13 of her team’s points.

Starting at inside centre, Shiels ended the game at out-half when Nora Stapleton was substituted for a blood injury that prevented her from returning to the field.

For John Cronin, Railway Union’s Director of Rugby, this was a game he knows was let slip away.

“We are bitterly disappointed but we have only ourselves to blame,” said Cronin. “We didn’t manage the game well at all and failings in our 22 cost us the 13 points. Belvo squeezed out a result and they got what they deserved from the game and so did we.

“The players and myself have lots of regrets about today but we have nobody to blame but ourselves. We wish Belvo the very best of luck in the final.”

Belvo will face UL Bohemians in Donnybrook at 5.30pm on Saturday next, 8 April.

Anna Caplice Donall Farmer / INPHO Ireland's Anna Caplice scored for Bohs against Galwegians. [file photo] Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

The Limerick team topped the league in the regular season by a wide margin and lost just one of the 14 games they played.

But Galwegians went toe-to-toe with their western rivals in the first half of their semi-final and the half-time scored was 12 points apiece.

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The home team, Bohs, opened the scoring after six minutes when Anna Caplice intercepted a pass inside her own 22 and raced the length of the pitch for a try which was converted by Kerry goalkeeper Edel Murphy.

Nicole Fowley claimed a try for Galwegians that wasn’t converted, before Emer Considine made it 12-5 to the home side. Mairead Coyne made a break on the left and eluded the Bohs’ defence for a try that was converted by Claire Rafftery to bring the sides level.

The Limerick outfit were forced to up their game in the second half and Murphy’s penalty three minutes after the restart restored a lead that Bohs would not relinquish.

Four tries followed the first from captain Fiona Hayes, but Galwegians got in a riposte as Denise Redmond’s try in the 56th minute brought the score back to 20-17.

Niamh Kavanagh went on a solo run that was rewarded with a Bohs try near the posts which Murphy converted. Two minutes later Elizabeth Burke tore down the right wing and dashed over the line for a try that was converted by Claire Keohane as Bohs opened up the lead.

Fiona Hayes in the dressing room before the game Dan Sheridan / INPHO Captain Fiona Hayes was a try-scorer for Bohs. [file photo] Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

In the final minute, Galwegians were still on the attack but a fumbled possession was pounced on by Kavanagh who was away down the pitch before anyone noticed and with Keohane adding the conversion, the game finished 41-17.

“It was a fine game between two strong teams,” remarked John Keane of UL Bohemians. “We were quite evenly matched in the first half but I feel we played the better rugby and deserved the victory.

“It has been a very good season so far, we only lost a single league game and we have nothing to fear ahead of the final. We are as good as any team in the league.”

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