Carrick’s maiden Connacht League campaign came to a heroic and heartbreaking halt on Saturday, trailing by two at full-time to a valiant Buccaneers.

Carrick’s finest (and fairest) were under no illusions at kick-off having won by seven over Buccaneers in regular season play, that the do-or-die element of knockout semi-final football meant little more than a single score would separate them this time round. The single score separation rang true, albeit narrower than first imagined.

The 5-3 scoreline may have scuppered Carrick-on-Shannon’s women’s trophy designs but it showed all those in Leitrim, the Midlands, and greater Connacht that womens rugby is on the rise again.

Carrick coach Ian Fowden said on Tuesday two prevailing thoughts lingered with him after the close of play. One was involved the leaps and bounds made by the Carrick girls since pre-season, and their enthusiasm to kick on next year; and the other was a general shortage of competitive fixtures some of which related to a dearth in teams, some of which lay with weather-induced interruptions.

Fowden was delighted with the emergence of an under16 and 18 tri-series this year and couldn’t wait for the player-trickle of promising youngsters into womens senior ranks.

Saturday’s was a fierce contest, played at a tempo he said, but one which rightly leaned the way of its victors. While Carrick had shown on several occasions this year they could play the grade’s best rugby, they did not show enough of it on Saturday to stamp their authority on the outcome.

Niamh Spellman slotted Carrick’s solitary penalty shortly after the Buccaneers try for 3-5 at halftime, and the score remained unchanged.

Claire McDermott and Martina Flattery threatened Buccaneers’ defenders throughout but three yellow cards against Carrick affected continuity.

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