History was made last Saturday (March 5) at the Sportsground in Galway when Connacht played Barbarians from Munster in the first ever girls youth rugby match. The privilege of being the first captain of the Connacht girls’ youth team went to Emma Fabby from who led the team from the number 8 position.
The Connacht girls were out of the traps very fast and got stuck into their much bigger opponents right from the first kick, which was fielded magnificently by Rebecca Fabby at full back. She immediately turned defence into attack which led to the first try in inter-provincial girls’ rugby being scored by Bríd Reddington.
The Connacht girls kept up a very fast tempo game moving the ball at every opportunity. This led to a second try, scored by Serena O’Shea, to make it 10-0 to Connacht. After this score their opponents attacked up the middle and from a set scrum 5 metres out their number 8 burst over for a try which was converted.
Just before half time Connacht broke up field with their flying winger Marian Donnellan who scored a fine try in the corner to make the half time score 15-7 to Connacht.
The second half started with the advantage going to the Barbarians from Munster after a knock on by Connacht from the kick off. The bigger Barbarians from Munster pack drove hard at Connacht and eventually got over for their second and last try which was not converted. This score seemed to galvanise Connacht and, with Lucy Golden dominating the lineouts, Connacht began to put some great moves together. After several phases the Connacht prop Eileen Gayndi finished off a great move to score under the post.
From the kick off the Barbarians from Munster attacked and this is where the Connacht backline came into its own. Some ferocious tackling by all the girls led to a turn over ball on the line which Connacht ran all the way into their opponents 22. From the resulting lineout, which Connacht took against the head, they scored their 5th try. This was the last play of the game and led to great scenes of jubilation after an historic win was sealed by 27 point to 12.
“This is such a historic day for us here in Connacht”, says Wendy Hickey, WCRO Connacht Rugby. “I was thrilled with the girls’ performance on the day, but even more so, was delighted that we could make this day happen. The opportunity is there to build this into something really interesting for the girls at that level, and I am looking forward to building on this in the future. I would also like to thank Michael Lyons who supplied the commerative key rings for everyone on the day, and who supported this initiative whole heartedly. I would also like to thank Emer O’Dowd, Carol Staunton and Lisa McDonagh for coaching the girls on the day.”
Connacht’s next match is March 26th against Abbeyfeale in the Sportsground.
Article by Gearoid O’Rian (Westport RFC)
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