Surviving on underage rugby plate-scrapings for so long, Connacht’s most-promising female youngsters welcomed the Branch’s latest venture – a month long tri-series – with open arms.

Ballina, Westport and a composite Dunmore-Connemara (Dunnemara…Conmore) complement contested the first of four one-day tournaments in Westport on Saturday. Rain has scuppered this weekend’s Dunmore leg, much to Branch women’s co-ordinator Wendy Hickey’s disappointment.

The Miss Hickey-spearheaded initiative has drawn considerable support from throughout the province, and involves at least 100 players and managers from the western extreme of the Galway Ghaeltacht to Mayo’s far north.dunmoreG_640x320

Miss Hickey said the tri-series opener in Westport proved there was a real thirst for competition football, and presented a showcase forum from which to better appraise the depth and breadth of talent within the Connacht catchment. Run according to a blitz format, the six games comprise 30minutes of rugby, 15 minutes apart.

The tournament resumes February 4 and plays out in Clifden the week after. A full-length final showdown is scheduled for the weekend of February 18.

“Westport did a great job hosting the first round and it’s up to Dunmore, Ballina and Clifden to follow Westport’s lead. From the response thus far, I’m convinced all clubs involved are well up for it, and it’ll be a great project from start to finish,” Miss Hickey said.

BallinaG_640x220Ballina’s 16s took top-spot last weekend sneaking home 5-0 over Dunmore. And while Westport struggled to contain Ballina in their match-up, the Bull-ettes acquitted themselves well against Dunmore however, limiting Dunmore to three scores and picking up one themselves.

Ballina, so prevalent in the juniors managed just the one point in the senior competition by way of a losing bonus point to Westport. Dunmore perched themselves atop the 18s with two 15-nil wins over their counterparts.

Aside from occasional exhibition matches, and a Connacht v Munster interpro rugby opportunities were limited in Connacht given the absence of a formal competition. If successful, this winter’s tri-series has scope to expand as female underage club ranks grow elsewhere.

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