Cooke retained the Rosie Stewart Memorial Bowl for the fourth successive season after a convincing 56 – 0 win against, Ulster Women’s Junior Cup holders, Malone at Carrickfergus RFC on Saturday afternoon.
“The Rosie” is presented to the Ulster Women’s Senior Cup winners and Cooke proved just to experienced for a Malone side who were missing a few experienced players.
The Red Sox have made considerable progress, throughout a successful season in the Ulster Women’s League, and they certainly tried to take it to their experienced All Ireland League opponents but, despite their efforts, Cooke were just too sharp and were determined to finish of their own season with some silverware.
Ulster U18 Grand Slam Champions, Hannah Beattie, Brittany Hogan and Vicky Irwin have blossomed into key players for Cooke throughout the season and the club will be particularly pleased at the development of Megan Simpson and Caitlin Fisher into accomplished All Ireland players.
However the teams performance is still very much driven by the formidable Ilse van Staden up front and the seasoned Eliza Downey and Jemma Jackson in the backs, Jackson enjoying a very influential season at scrum half.
Cooke ran in ten tries in total though they were made to work for each of them.
Sarah Gibson opened the scoring with Claire Johnston crossing out wide at the end of the first quarter. The mercurial Irwin popped up for a brace before van Staden thundered to the line for a pair of her own, both converted by Jackson. The second quarter onslaught had pushed Cooke well clear with the teams turning round with Cooke leading 34 – 0.
Malone enjoyed another good period at the start of the second half but it ended when Downey chased down a kick ahead to dot the ball down with inches to spare. Gemma McCutcheon was up next, finishing off a driving maul out wide, before Downey bagged her brace with a dive into the corner to give Cooke a 49 – 0 lead with about ten minutes left.
A powerful run from Hogan ended under the posts to give Cooke, with Irwin’s conversion, a 56 – 0 win.
Despite the one sided score line Malone can take a lot of positives from the game, not least the formidable display from Neve Jones who was The Front Row Union Player of the Game with an absolutely tireless display in defence.
Cooke: Sarah Gibson, Claire Johnston, Eliza Downey, Brittany Hogan, Natasha Moore, Vicky Irwin, Jemma Jackson, Ilse van Staden, Megan Simpson, Alanagh Chipperfield, Sorcha Mac Laimhin, Hannah Beattie, Caitlin Fisher, Beth Cregan (c), Gemma McCutcheon. Replacements: Lesley Megarity, Shannon Heapes, Helen McGhee, Caoimhe Rooney, Claire McLaughlin, Teah Maguire.
Malone: Alison Boal, Brogain Ni Chiarran, Ella Durkan, Erin Caughey, Anna Stanfield, Zara Ryan, Jenna Stewart, Sarah Murphy, Ashleigh Currie, Neve Jones, Danielle Williamson, Rebecca Lawlor, Eimear Hagan, Bethany McDowell, Jolene McMorris Cloughey. Replacements: Lynn Wilson, Melissa Halvey.
The match was attended by past international players of Cooke RFC Women who had recently been awarded their International caps after the IRFU finally recognised the competitive fixtures of the forerunners of the Women’s game in Ireland.
The past players, represented by Jill Henderson, Ireland Women’s First Captain, presented Rosie Stewart’s cap to her mother Kathleen Gallagher in an emotional speech before the trophy presentation. More pictures of the presentation in the match gallery below.