Tuam/Oughterard win BOI Connacht League decider

06 March 2023

Tuam/Oughterard win BOI Connacht League  decider

Westport 14 - 34 Tuam/Oughterard 

Tuam/Oughterard is the 2023 Bank of Ireland Connacht Women’s League champions.

The side, inspired by an incredible display from Karly Tierney, overcame Westport in an intense encounter in The Sportsground. Tierney, who ended up with four tries on the day, was flanked by several other top performers, with each member of the Tuam/Oughterard squad playing their part.

Not least Éabha Nic Dhonnacha, who showed her attacking prowess during the opening moments of the game. The centre took a quick tap-and-go, drawing in several Westport players and creating space for Tierney to run off her shoulder and cross the line for the opening try of the game.

Nic Dhonnacha took the resulting conversion, sending her team 0-7 up.

It wasn’t long before Westport put its own stamp on the early stages of the contest. Brionna Claffey demonstrated brilliant footwork to get away from the County Galway side’s defensive line, getting over the try line, but was unable to touchdown.

That was a sign of things to come,  as Westport fullback Noreen Coyne cut through another hole in the Tuam/Oughterard’s defence soon after. She passed off to Aisling Browne, who crossed the line near to the posts in the Bohermore end. Browne converted her own try to make it 7-7.

The excellent attacking display continued with Tuam/Oughterard's backs showing great hands getting the ball out wide to Sarah-Jane Fox not long after that score.

The winger brilliantly offloaded to a perfectly positioned Tierney, who touched down for her second try of the game. Nic Dhonnacha hit the bar with the resulting conversion, leaving it 7-12 in her side’s favour.

In a back-and-forth half, both sides continued to have their chances, but it was Tuam/Oughterard who added to their tally next. It came from a turnover inside Westport’s 22. They were able to build phases until the ball reached Nic Dhonnacha, who was somehow able to get the best of three Westport defenders and break away to score her side’s third try of the game.

Westport showed excellent spirit and once again bounced back, getting the next score of the game with 10 minutes left in the half. It came when Tara McNulty cut through a gap in the opposition’s defence, spotting space caused by Tuam/Oughterard over-committing players to the breakdown.

Browne once again converted, making it 14-17, leaving the Mayo side within reach of their rivals as the break approached.

However, Tierney and Tuam/Oughterard had a different idea. The number eight once again showed brilliant finisher’s instincts to carve the Westport defence open with a strong carry and touch down over the line, re-establishing a commanding eight-point 14-22 lead for her side at the break.

The second half was a much more tentative affair, with both sides playing much of the opening 20 minutes of the half between the two 22s.

However, as it went on, Tuam/Oughterard appeared to be gaining the upper hand. Scrumhalf Rachel Forkan tackled with an intensity rarely seen, with the pack stepping up for the 10 minutes that Tierney was in the sinbin for not wrapping in the tackle.

Shortly after she returned to the fray, Nic Dhonnacha once again showed her own power and pace, breaking the second-half deadlock. The talented back broke through several tackles before outpacing a couple of defenders to touch down on the mainstand side of The Sportsground Bohermore end.

Westport continued battling, with Browne putting boot to ball for several excellent defensive exits as Tuam/Oughterard attempted to add to their lead. 

However, the pressure told. Somewhat suitably, it was Tierney who put the stamp on Tuam/Oughterard’s victory, completing one of the great Sportsground performances with her fourth try of the game and completing the 14-34 victory.