Connacht Rugby Women’s League Final
Canterbury Warriors 0
Reported by Peter McCartan at Doctors Road, Ballyhaunis
The ladies of Castlebar Rugby Club made history last weekend when they captured the Connacht League Title in Ballyhaunis. The final score of 45-6 however does not really reflect the nature of the game as the Warriors made Castlebar fight for every inch of ground.
After soaking up some early pressure from the Warriors, Castlebar struck for two tries in a three minute spell. The first try came from a searing run out of defence by Nicola Hall which brought play into the Warriors half. Yvonne Byrne kept the move alive and her pass found Cora Staunton who ran a superb support line. Staunton broke several tackles and ran in under the posts making Darwyn O’Halloran’s conversion that much easier. Three minutes later winger Emma Doyle picked up a loose ball on the Canterbury Warriors 10 metre line and used her speed to outpace her opponent and score in the corner to give Castlebar a 12-0 lead after just eight minutes.
The Warriors responded with some good work from their pack and they reduced the margin to six points by the 21st minute when outhalf Emma Dardis landed two penalties. The physical exchanges were intense and the Warriors continued to carry the fight to the Castlebar ladies. Some big carries by Nuala McGoey and Yvonne Dowd brought the Warriors deep into the Castlebar 22 in the 24th minute and they were awarded a scrum in a very promising position. When Dowd picked from the base of the scrum she looked certain to breach the Castlebar defence but a crunching tackle by Castlebar’s Yvonne Byrne brought the big Number 8 crashing down and the Mayo side cleared the danger.
Castlebar closed out the remainder of the first half in commanding fashion and they scored two more tries. Their third try came from outhalf Darwyn O’Halloran when she broke through the Warriors defence on the 22 and crossed under the posts. Cora Staunton scored her second try two minutes later when she took a pass from O’Halloran on the half way line and left the Warriors defence in her wake to run in for a brilliant score. O’Halloran converted the two tries to give Castlebar a 26-6 half time lead.
The second half was littered with stoppages as the physical intensity began to take its toll on the players. Castlebar extended their lead in the 58th minute when Yvonne Byrne caught a weak Warriors clearance on the 22 and sped down the touchline to touch down in the corner. Cora Staunton completed her hat trick in the 67th minute when she got on the end of a great break by Caroline Staunton from the half way line and broke through for a fine try.
To their credit, the Warriors kept looking for that elusive try, but solid defending by the Castlebar ladies kept them out. Castlebar’s seventh and final try came two minutes from time. Cora Staunton burst through the Warriors defence and seemed odds on to claim her fourth try, but the big hearted centre unselfishly passed to Emma Doyle who touched down beside the posts.
Castlebar: Tries – Cora Staunton (3), Emma Doyle (2), Darwyn O’Halloran and Yvonne Byrne.
Conversions – Darwyn O’Halloran (5)
Canterbury Warriors: Pens – Emma Dardis (2)
Castlebar: J. Walsh; S. Kenny, N. Hall, Cora Staunton, E. Doyle; D. O’Halloran, M. Fitzgibbon; Y. McNabb, Caroline Staunton (Capt.), Y. Byrne; A M. O’Hora, T. Grufferty; A. McNicholas, F. Nic Ruairi, M. Egan.
Replacements from: N. Kilduff, G. Kelly, K. Kelly, A. Feely, M. Derrig, C. Cuffe, S. Flynn, C. Connor, C. Brennan, C. Blake, R. McLoughlin, P. Niland and J. O’Reilly.
Canterbury Warriors: M. Duffy; S. Treacy, M. Gonzalo, L. Corcoran, M. Cronogue; E. Dardis, N. McGoey (Capt.); Y. Dowd, C. Manning, L. O’Donnell; A. Kelly, M. Coy; M. Murphy, C. Kielty, K. Richardson.
Replacements from: M. McKeown, G. Butler, C. McDermott, C. O’Donnell, T. Pennamon and L.Mulvill-Farrell.
Referee: K. Quinn (Connacht Branch)
Player of the Match:
Yvonne Byrne (Castlebar) The Ballyhaunis native was part of a destructive back row that broke up numerous Warriors attacks. Impressive tackle count and a well taken try rounded off an impressive display.