One last battle before the final!
2010.. The last year in which UCC Ladies Rugby team felt that euphoria of winning an All Ireland Semi Final knowing the final is in sight. Six years on, on a windy Wednesday March evening saw UCC Ladies experienced that same exhilarating feeling.
IT Carlow travelled to the Mardyke for a highly anticipated game against our ladies. Knowing that an All Ireland Final could be within touching distance the Cork girls kicked off and put immediate pressure on the Leinster side. Within the opening ten minutes, at the 22 metre line, UCC had secured a lineout and commenced a thundering maul towards the try line. “Fastest maul of all time” some would say. IT Carlow were blown out of the water and with fantastic team effort, Dinah O Mahony stationed the ball right over the try line (Not converted). IT Carlow kicked off once again and UCC were again within arms length of the try line, Carlow defence was set but UCC were making very hard work of getting through their defence. Phase after phase from the forwards saw a quick ball out to the backs but even their attempts were unprofitable. Frustration grew as simple mistakes were being made, a number close to a 1000 scrums seems accurate for the entire game. With Becky O Sullivan on form with her hooking skills, UCC managed to turn over a few balls and gain more ground towards the try line. Minutes later saw Ciara Scanlan exploding her way through the Carlow defence line and across the white wash. Her line speed noticeably similar to Justin Gatlin in his Olympic gold win in 2005, converted by Ellen Murphy (12-0). In the 25th minute, Carlow were penalised for their high tackling, which saw their flanker being sent to the bench as a result of the yellow card. With Carlow down to 14 women one would think they would take complete advantage of it, but the UCC girls couldn’t gain any scores from the position they were in. Again frustratingly close to the try line with forwards like Orla Rea, where once ball was in hand, there was no stopping her. Sarah O Donovan with support from Hannah O Sullivan had made a tremendous pick and made a break for the line, when a mistake from the ref blowing the whistle at the five metre left O Donovan in disgust after a fantastic effort.
The second half got underway and within moments IT Carlow were penalised again giving Ellen Murphy a shot at goal. With a distance of what seemed like the try line to Cork city gaol, Murphy slotted it over with ease (15-0). For the first time in the game IT Carlow put some serious pressure on the Cork side, with a gap in the defence left Carlow gone for road and across the try line, not converted. The Cork girls kicked off again but managed a aggressive counter ruck by Ciara O Dwyer. With Hannah O Sullivan on her side there was no stopping these two ladies up the field. The rucks were fast and clean, and gave UCC’s Laura Delaney swift passes out to the back line. The ball was put in the forwards hands once again, five metres out, Michaela O Reilly had crossed the white line but could not achieve the five points we all hoped for, the Carlow girls held her up strong and UCC were denied the try.
A UCC ladies rugby match wouldn’t be the same without tremendous tackling from Cliona O Shaughnessy. Some few minutes later, Laura Sheehan, an absolute champion in dancing around the opposition found her putting two tries on the score sheet. The latter being fabulously converted by Aine Fitzgerald. With this being the last kick of the game, the reality of an All Ireland Final finally became real. A final score of 27-5 mean UCC will now go on to play NUIG on the 16th of March. Time and venue to be decided.
A big thank you to all our supporters and the rest of the club; especially the J3’s for changing their training schedule. A little support can go a long way!
Forward of the match: Hannah O Sullivan
Back of the match: Cliona O Shaughnessy