Cooke Women RFC retained the Ulster Women’s premier cup trophy, The Rosie Stewart Bowl, after a decisive win against Ballynahinch Women on Saturday afternoon at Malone Rugby Club.
The match was billed as youth against experience and I’m afraid it was an emphatic victory for experience as, Irish internationals, Ilse Van Staden, Eliza Downey and Amy Graham tormented the young ‘Hinch defence.
Naomi McCullagh and Lauren Maginnes carried strongly and Sorcha Mac Laimhin was prominent with some good link play as Cooke lay siege to the Ballynahinch line. As always, Cooke captain Shirelle Wilson led from the front, setting a frenetic pace, and Jemma Jackson pulled the strings at out half behind a dominant pack.
Vicky Irwin, Brittany Hogan and Storm Cobain featured well for ‘Hinch, Cobain in particular putting in a phenomenal amount of work, but their work was mostly in defense, though Irwin did land a second half penalty. However it was a mere blip on the scoreboard as Cooke went on to win the game 67 – 3 with Van Staden (3) Downey (2), Graham (2), Wilson, Teah Maguire, Natasha Moore and Imogen Porter all crossing, Jackson adding 7 conversions.
Ballynahinch can take a lot of credit from their appearance in the Rosie Stewart Bowl so soon after their formation. While well outgunned, by an experienced Cooke side on top form, their heads never dropped and their attitude throughout the game was a credit to the team and their coaches. I suspect they’ll be making a few more final appearances in the years to come.