Old Belvedere progressed to the final of the All Ireland Cup after a dramatic and entertaining semi-final against Suttonians at Ollie Campbell Park on a perfect evening for rugby in Dublin 4.
Report and images by JC Sports Photography
Suttonians started brightly, forcing a couple of early penalties and having the bulk of possession and territory without, however, troubling the scoreboard. Once Belvo settled into the game, their first score arrived on 10 mins as Jenny Murphy produced a fine offload out of the tackle to release Elise O’Byrne-White who sliced through the visitors’ defence to dot down with Jemma Jackson adding the extras.
The second Belvo score was not long in coming and it was the end result of a nice burst down the right flank by winger Alba Marlasca Abasolo. Jackson sent over an excellent conversion from right out on the touchline to see the home side into a 14-0 lead and this was stretched to 19-0 when O’Byrne-White went over in the same corner for her second of the day on 22 mins.
Suttonians didn’t buckle and finished the half on the front foot, held up at the end of one powerful surge on the half-hour and finally getting over the line as Greer Muir went over to see us turn around at 19-5. Unfortunately we lost Murphy to injury just before the interval which was a shame as she had been her usual all-action self up until that point.
The second half saw the home side lose Vanessa Hullon to the bin and then a remarkable comeback from the visitors as tries from Sophie Gibney, which she duly converted herself, and a second from Muir – a couple of phases on from an intercept and terrific gallop up the pitch by Aisling Layde (who would see yellow herself not long after) – saw them close the gap to 19-17 and, only for a conversion coming back off the post, we would have been all-square.
Jackson pushed the home side back out to 22-17 with a penalty that sneaked over off the crossbar but the visitors were not done as a fourth try from Brenda Barr leveled matters at 22-all. It was left to Jackson to seal the win for Belvo as she held her nerve to dispatch her second penalty of the day in the dying minutes and leave us with a final score of 25-22, although not before one last throw of the dice from the visitors down the left wing was snuffed out by a great covering tackle which forced the turnover.
Special mention for Suttonians’ tighthead prop Julia Bauer who was immense in the loose and a made a ton of hard yards for her team. It was also great to see former St Mary’s regulars Melissa Hayden and Emma Lackey lining out for Belvo and we wish them well with their new club.