Magical Corinthians win classic U18 Girls League Final

Galway United's Anna McGough who started and scored for the Republic of Ireland's U15 schools squad on Sunday in Limerick.

Galway United's Anna McGough who started and scored for the Republic of Ireland's U15 schools squad on Sunday in Limerick.

Ever since girls’ and women’s rugby was established at Galway Corinthians RFC, the search for silverware has sometimes been fruitless. Some years ago, plate titles would have been their lot despite the coaches’, parents’, and players’ efforts.

That all changed on Sunday afternoon when an outstanding effort against a brave and talented Gort/Monivea team saw Corinthians take home the Division Two league title for the first time.

Both teams played wonderful rugby worthy of the historic venue, and in the end, the large crowd was treated to a game that may sound clichéd but will live long in the memory.

The introduction of Girls’ rugby in both clubs has proved very successful. Through Give It A Try and other initiatives, numbers have increased, and these players will be an inspiration for the teams that come after them.

Both teams had been impressive during the league season and when they met, only five points had separated them with Corinthians winning 15-10. The feeling before the game was that this too was going to be close and exciting and it was exactly that. Aisling Whyte opened the scoring with a try after eight from a tap and go penalty and the conversion from Jemima Lees was incredible with the player opting to drop kick the extras as the wind had been taking the ball off the tee.

Gort/Monivea, in only their second season as an amalgamation, hit back with a try from Molly Fahey. When Kaylee Barbosa Dias scored a second soon after, the atmosphere went up another level. Corinthians, who had been impressive all season in all their games, knew they would have to battle to win this one and with both teams now playing sublime rugby, a classic was in the making.

With the clock touching thirty three minutes, Gort/Monivea were in the ascendancy and pushing for another score. However, number eight Lily-mae Johnstone produced a moment of brilliance to intercept and left the backs in her wake as she sprinted towards the line. It was the last score in a breath-taking opening half and Corinthians supporters sensed that the long awaited title could be theirs.

Eight minutes into the second half, that sense was beginning to prove right. Grace Rodgers broke through the cover and touched down. Minutes later Lucy Forde did likewise with Lees kicking another incredible conversion fifteen metres in from the touchline to give Corinthians some breathing space. Gort/Monivea’s heads did not drop however and with players like Grainne Farragher outstanding, they got back into the game when Barbosa Dias scored her second and her side’s third try of the afternoon. Hazel Burke’s conversion cut the gap to seven and again it was game on.

Here are where cool heads are needed and Corinthians used their experience to close the game. A penalty from Lees extended their lead once again and this time Corinthians did not let Monivea back into the game. The full time whistle led to wild celebrations among the Corinthians support.

Both teams deserve credit for what was an outstanding game of rugby. The skill levels were high, the determination obvious and even though it kicked off at 11am, it was a classic in every sense of the word.

Both teams will not have long to dwell on this however, next up is the Bank of Ireland Cup with Gort/Monivea in Group B along with Westport, Castlebar and Ballinasloe and Corinthians in Group C along with Tuam/Oughterard, Galwegians and Corrib with these games beginning in the next couple of weeks.

Corinthians: M Flannery, C Koller, A Whyte, A Keady, E McEvoy, J Lees, R Comer. G Rodgers, N M Stone, A Kelly, E Cormican, M Mullen, S Kenneally, E Devoy, LM Johnstone.

Replacements: I Davis, A Marnell, A Patton, M Connolly, S Ni Ghibne, L Forde, L Fox Colleran, L Ryan.

Gort/Monivea: M Geary, S Kearney, A Langan, G Farragher, H Scanlon, M Fahey, C Maloney. A Higgins, A Kearns, A Greaney, M Donaldson, M Neilan, C Fahey, S Sheridan, M Goldsworthy.

Replacements: H Burke, S Flynn, M Kennedy, L Kearney, BJ O’Connor, M Higgins, K Barbosa Dias, L Kerans, E Biesty, N Murray.

Referee: D O’Loughlin (ARCB )

 

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