On home turf Buccaneers capitalised on two horrific first-half errors from the NUIG women and at 14nil up at the break, hunkered down into the wind to grind out a hard-won two-point victory in the Connacht Women’s League on Sunday.

Without lynchpin midfielder Niamh Ni Dhroma (midweek knee operation) Buccaneers reshuffled livewire looseforward Tina Kiernan to 12 to join fellow backline newbie Hazel Kilduff. Far from embarrassing themselves both Tiernan and Kilduff shone throughout for Buccaneers ably-backed by footballer Fabienne Cooney at 15. 

SorTarpemail500Short a few hard-hitting forwards themselves, NUIG’s pack toiled well into the wind but crowded each other in the early stages availing space farther out for the hosts.

NUIG skipper Rhona Julian had a clearance attempt charged on her own 22m. Buccs outhalf Colette McSpadden deftly toed it ahead, regathered on the line to score. She converted her own try.

Apathy and confusion conspired against the visitors for Buccaneers’ second where NUIG sauntered back in open space to gather a Buccaneers clearance, found themselves isolated deep within their 22m and were simply caught for numbers too close to their posts. McSpadden again successful with the extras in off the upright.

NUIG opened the second half with the wind and spent all but two six-minute periods inside the Buccs’ 40m. That said, Buccaneers withstood assault after assault in their own 22m surrendering a solitary try (and a yellow-card) with stoic goal-line defence. 

The try, a combined forwards-backs effort went to Marie Mongheal on the left wing who beat three in close quarters to crash over grandstand side scoreboard corner. Katie Kilbane gave the conversion every opportunity and was on-target but fell short two metres. 

Kiernan for Buccs carved off 45m with ball-in-hand 10minutes from time but was dragged down short by outhalf-cum-centre Sorcha Tarpey three or four strides from the NUIG goal-line. Kiernan, with Buccs captain and eight Emer Phelan and hooker supersub Mele Kiripati, dominated much of the one-on-one combat from the Midlanders’ side; Edel McMahon, Kristen Romes and 

Julian the pick of the crop for the Westerners. NUIG fullback Kilbane (at outhalf for the second spell) quick-tapped on fulltime, covered half a pitch width and scored wide right, five in from touch. It was Buccaneers’ frustrations redlining after a soaring second half penalty count against them which let Kilbane skip through a disorganised defence but it was too little too late for the tourists, 14-12 on full-time. 


Gillian McDarby appointed IRFU Head of Women’s Performance & Pathways