Blackrock women miss out on AIL title

by Gazette Reporter

BLACKROCK College found reigning champions Old Belvedere just too strong as the Anglesea Road club fulfilled their season-long progression to land the All-Ireland League title last weekend in Donnybrook.

They fell 26-5 to a side that had bossed the regular season, going unbeaten and leading ’Rock by five points at the end of the preliminary phase of the competition.
The Stradbrook club ended that phase in second place and duly dismissed Galwegians in the semi-final, overturning a regular season defeat.
But they knew they were up against it when they met Belvo, a side who put 39 points on them without response in the regular season.
But ’Rock showed little trepidation as the game started off under the Donnybrook floodlights at a high intensity match, keen to knock the defending champions off their perch. They attacked with great gusto.
However, after just three minutes when Blackrock were making all the metres, a stray pop pass from Ireland international Vikki McGinn found its way into the hands of outside centre Elise O’Byrne White who raced away to touch down for Old Belvedere for a breakaway try.
After starting so brightly, Blackrock were not willing to succumb. Old Belvedere began to leak penalties while referee Helen O’Reilly sin-binned O’Byrne White in the 25th minute. Openside Niamh Fitzgerald also saw yellow just seven minutes later and the title holders were down to 13 players.
Blackrock’s persistence finally paid off when winger Tammy Breen scored a try after 35 minutes. Deacon missed the conversion, and the first half ended honours even at 5-5.
But the second half saw a reversal of fortunes with Old Belvedere making all the attacking metres. There was a big blow for Blackrock when their captain Debbie Clarke O’Connor was yellow carded in the 48th minute.
After a number of scuppered chances, Belvo grabbed their second try through replacement prop Roisin O’Donnell just shy of the hour mark. This time Stapleton added the conversion for 12-5.
And Belvo sealed the title when another front row replacement, Ruth McElroy, went over, helping to put 14 points between the sides with five minutes left.
Jenny Murphy added a fourth try at the death for a misleading final scoreline of 26-5 that did not reflect the endeavour of Blackrock’s players, but yet again this season Old Belvedere showed their clinical side.

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