Sligo Rugby 40
Westport RFC 17
Heffernan Park, Ballina played host last Sunday to the final of the Women’s 10-a-side Connacht Invitational Plate. Having won the Invitational Shield the previous season, the Sligo outfit were determined to go one better and secure the Connacht Plate this year.
The torrential rain of the morning had passed, and the game was played in the winter sunshine on the large 5G pitch. Westport RFC got off to the better start, scoring a try with the opening passage of play. Sligo were unperturbed and had a swift reply from the restart with Aisling Feely running 80m to dot down under the posts and level the scores. Westport hit a purple patch, scoring an additional two tries and a conversion without reply until Sligo’s Emma Cox made another of her trademark, sweeping runs to claw back another 5 points and reduce the gap to 7 points at the half time whistle.
Coach Jamie Bowes’ halftime pep talk inspired a storming performance from his charges and Sligo came out all guns blazing. Their defence remained rock solid as the team grew in confidence and determination, their tactical kicking provided a platform for a relentless attack. Sligo’s captain Emma Cullen lead from the front, her first try reduced the difference to a mere two points. Sophie Kinghan gave a Player of the Match performance at outhalf and added a try of her own to put Sligo ahead for the first time in the game.
A real game of two halves, Sligo produced a real team performance, with every member of the matchday squad running with conviction and showing good hands. A second try for Emma Cullen was the result of total domination in the corridor of power, followed by a quick spinning wide of the ball. Strong rucking from Sligo continued to secure possession and it wasn’t long before Cliodhna O’Sullivan burst through the Westport defence to score Sligo’s sixth try. Strong running from a determined Victoria Lee clocked up another score out wide. The final play of the game gave newcomer Rachel Enright the chance to power over the whitewash and score the eighth and final try of the game.
The Connacht Invitational Plate was presented to Emma Cullen, captain of the Sligo Women’s team by Liz Brady, Head of Women’s Rugby in Connacht and President of Westport.
Sunday 4th December sees a return to the Connacht Women’s League when Corrib RFC come to visit. The match is currently scheduled for 1pm in Hamilton Park. Sligo Rugby hope to continue their unbeaten run in the league and remain at the top of the table.
Sligo: Aisling Feely (1 try), Rachel Dolan, Emma Cullen (C) (2 tries), Joanne Williams, Victoria Lee (1 try), Cliodhna O’Sullivan (1 try), Hannah Walsh-Kerins, Emma Cox (1 try), Sophie Kinghan (1 try), Jessica McGuinness, Rachel McPartlin, Sarah Woodmartin, Michaela Watts, Jenny Cregg, Rachel Enright (1 try)
Caption – women’s team
Front row L-R: Jamie Bowes (Head Coach), Rachel McPartlin, Emma Cox, Pippin (mascot), Joanne Williams, Emma Cullen (Captain), Sarah Woodmartin, Hannah Walsh-Kerins
Back row L-R: Jean Mc Connell (President Sligo Rugby), Cathy Benson (Mamager), Michaela Watts, Aisling Feely, Sophie Kinghan, Victoria Lee, Rachel Dolan, Cliodhna O’Sullivan, Jenny Cregg, Rachel Enright, Jessica Mc Guinness, Padraic Morgan (Manager)