Sunday the 21st of April saw a festival of ladies’ rugby in the south of the Province. Ulster U18 Ladies Regional Development Squads had been training for several months. Camps were based between the East and West of Ulster with a culmination of a head to head match between the two.
On the kick off the two teams seemed eager to play running rugby. The Western side got their hands on the ball and set off with a series of rucks from the strong forward pack, which pulled the Eastern defence in to give a great opportunity to (second centre) Vicky Irwin who found a gap at the half way line, beat three defenders and put the opening points on the board. Helen McDermott converted to make the score 7-0 within the first 7 minutes of the game. From this point the crowd knew this was going to be a very exciting game of rugby in Armagh Palace Grounds on this spring Sunday afternoon.
Not that the East team were not going to fight for every ball, and every opportunity, with aggressive runs coming from Storm Cobain and Chantelle Asquith, the East pressed the Western team back to their 22 for the remainder of the first twenty minutes, with exceptional play from the Eastern outhalf, Erin Caughey.
The second 20 minutes started off with the majority of possession going East’s way, the West’s defence held firm. A credit to players such as Laura Donnelly, Molly Lavery and Morna O’Hanlon who held their ground and worked together to keep the East off their try line.
The last 25 minutes of the game didn’t see either team tiring. The dedication, determination and skill continued throughout, with breaks coming from Rachel Tombs for the East side. However, great leadership skills from Shannon Heapes kept the Western team motivated.
The hard hits continued right to the final whistle but, with no further score the game ended 7-0 to the Western side.
Well done to all the girls involved, as they are the stars of the future, and thanks to Armagh Rugby for their facilities and great hospitality.
Ladies’ rugby is in its infancy at the moment but if Sunday is anything to go by, it is on the verge of becoming the new sport for females, as it accommodates everyone.
If interested please do not hesitate to contact your local club, or the Ulster Branch, to find out more details. Everyone welcome.
Pictures below courtesy of Henry Johnston © Milltown Farm Ltd