Galwegians women made history on Saturday beating Old Belvedere 22-3 in the Leinster Cup final, wresting west for the first time the trophy from its eastern stronghold.
It was the fourth and final clash this winter between Old Belvedere and Galwegians, the Dubliners drawing first blood in Galway with a one point victory.
The second and third clashes, both in the capital, went Galwegians way. Again away from home, Galwegians won the fourth and most important allowing captain Emer O’Dowd to raise the Paul Flood Memorial Trophy and carry it beyond the River Shannon.
Speaking after the match O’Dowd empathised with her Old Belvedere counterparts but congratulated them on their rapid rise through division one ranks in their second season in the premier competition.
“Fair play to ye, you play a great brand of rugby and have shown this season and last that you’re more than capable of footing it with the country’s best.
“Congratulations too to our girls though, we’ve worked so hard, had our hearts broken a couple of times, but come so far from the start of this season. The Paul Flood is a wonderful reward for a wonderful campaign.”
Old Belvedere notched first points seven minute in through a penalty on the Galwegians 22m after a furious onslaught from the kick-off.
An aimless clearance kick from Old Belvedere gave right wing Sarah Healy and fullback Ali Miller a chance to counter from the halfway mark. Miller broke one tackle, and evaded two more to score under the bar after 15minutes. Outhalf Clare Raftery added the extras.
Old Belvedere, so adept this season at retaining possession for prolonged periods, mounted an assault deep in Galwegians territory three times coming within inches of the tryline. Galwegians lock Katie McDonagh incurred the referee’s wrath and wound up with a yellow for her troubles. Despite the player disparity, Old Belvedere could not breach a scrambling defensive unit and minutes before halftime McDonagh’s fellow lock Tina Fitzgerald lurched at the line 12m wide of the left upright to score. Raftery’s radar was again on target and halftime arrived at 14-3.
Where Old Belvedere’s hopes lay with their forwards, Galwegians’ foremost concern for the second spell was to deny the black-and-whites any opportunity deep in blue territory. Raftery plugged the corners with her educated right boot, and O’Dowd, prop Ruth O’Reilly and substitute Carol Staunton upped individual tackle counts to snuff out any advances beyond the halfway line. Galwegians’ midfield pairing of former international Nuala Ni Chadhain and Grainne Egan exposed chinks in the Old Belvedere armour, left wing Lisa McDonagh and Miller reaped rewards with two scything runs apiece.
The visitors’ third try came after Raftery shot through a defensive lapse, recycled quick ball, and Healy dotted down unmarked after slick hands wide out on the right hand touch. On target, Raftery’s conversion ran out of juice and the score remained 22-3.
Left wing Sandra Gannon, on for the injured Lisa McDonagh 22minutes into the second half, latched on to the end of a classy 10,12,13 interchange but was dragged down by desperate defence 10m from the line. Fulltime came shortly after.

carol

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