Post-Match Reaction: European Rugby Champions Cup Pool One – Leinster V Benetton – Leo Cullen & Ian Keatley – Press Association – November 16 2019

Cullen hails returning stars after Leinster dismiss Benetton

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen hailed his returning international contingent after their 33-19 bonus point victory over Benetton Rugby in their Heineken Champions Cup Pool One opener.

Last season’s beaten finalists welcomed back a number of players who featured for Ireland at the World Cup, including hat-trick hero Garry Ringrose and captain Jonathan Sexton, who also touched down and kicked three conversions.

Cullen said: “That’s the pleasing piece – we’ve got more guys through games.

“Off the back of what a lot of guys have been through, trying to come back in, it’s like their season is starting again. In many ways, it’s round one for us as an entire squad.

“We still have a couple of more guys that are still yet to appear. Overall we’re pleased. It wasn’t perfect, far from perfect, but it’s a win. We’ve got the job done in many respects.”

Following Ringrose’s early brace young hooker Ronan Kelleher marked his Champions Cup debut with a well-taken try as Leinster established a 19-7 half-time lead.

But second-half scores from Hame Faiva and Luca Sperandio, adding to Dean Budd’s eighth-minute effort, showed the continuing improvements in Benetton’s game under Kieran Crowley.

Although Leinster were always able to stay at least 12 points clear after the break, Cullen sounded a warning ahead of next weekend’s trip to Top 14 pacesetters Lyon.

Having served up a first-round demolition to Wasps in last season’s tournament, they subsequently fell short against a rejuvenated Toulouse just nine days later.

The Leinster boss is eager to avoid a repeat performance in France next Saturday, adding: “We went away to France in round two last year and got beaten by Toulouse. We go away to Lyon this year and can we be better? That’s the question we’re asking ourselves.

“The challenge is the fact that we’re not really up and running with this group yet. I think everyone thinks, ‘Okay, the group is going well’, but the PRO14, as we know, is very different to the challenge of Europe.”

This game was a homecoming of sorts for Benetton fly-half Ian Keatley. A product of the Leinster academy, the Dublin native went on to represent Connacht and Munster before making the switch to the Crowley-coached Treviso outfit.

Keatley felt a lack of killer instinct played a part in his side’s downfall, saying: “European Cup nights in Ireland are something special, especially in (Munster’s) Thomond Park and (Leinster’s home) the RDS. It was a great atmosphere out there.

“Kieran said we were coming with a positive attitude and that’s why we went for the corner early on and that gave us confidence when we scored.

“If you give Leinster access to your 22 they are quite clinical, as they showed. We got into their 22 and we weren’t clinical. That was the difference.”

Posted in European Rugby | Comments Off on Post-Match Reaction: European Rugby Champions Cup Pool One – Leinster V Benetton – Leo Cullen & Ian Keatley – Press Association – November 16 2019

Euro 2020 Qualifier Group D: Switzerland V Georgia – The Irish Times – November 16 2019

Cedric Itten scores on dream debut as Switzerland scrape past Georgia

Substitute striker scores in front of his home fans in St Gallen to secure victory

NoSwitzerland 1 Georgia 0

Debutant Cedric Itten pounced for a 77th-minute winner in St Gallen on Friday night to lift Switzerland into second place in the Euro 2020 Group D qualifying table.

In a generally frustrating encounter for the hosts, it was left for the towering 22-year-old – playing in front of his home fans – to break the stubborn resistance of a plucky Georgia.

It also prevents a possible three-way tie after Monday night’s final two games, which would require Ireland to win by two goals against the Danes, rather than the straight shootout that remains on the cards. Switzerland travel to play face basement side Gibraltar in their final game.

Despite the absence of star striker Haris Seferovic, both Denis Zakaria and Ricardo Rodríguez had long-distance efforts turned away by Giorgi Loria in a bright opening for the Swiss.

Switzerland breathed a sigh of relief when Giorgi Kvilitaia hit the post from close range, before Loria denied Premier League duo Granit Xhaka and Albian Ajeti at the opposite end.

Georgia defender Otar Kiteishvili also cleared a Nico Elvedi header off the line and Manuel Akjani spurned another glorious opportunity as the sides proved inseparable at the interval.

The longer Vladimir Petkovic’s men went without securing a breakthrough, the more apprehensive they became. Conversely, the Georgian challenge gathered pace as the action progressed.

The lively Levan Shengelia fired just past the target off a swift counterattack and Valeri Qazaishvili also went close on 71 minutes. This was the cue for local star Itten to be thrown into the mix and it was a move that paid dividends.

Zakaria lofted a precise ball into the area, where Itten was ideally placed to head into the bottom right-hand corner.

SWITZERLAND: Sommer; Elvedi, Akanji, Rodriguez; Lichtsteiner, Zakaria, Xhaka, Steffen; Fernandes (Sow, 84 mins); Ajeti (Itten, 71 mins), Vargas (Fassnacht, 78 mins).

GEORGIA: Loria; Kakabadze, Kashia, Grigalava, Khocholava; Kankava, Kiteishvili (Papunashvili, 84 mins); Davitashvili (Gvilia, 84 mins), Shengelia, Qazaishvili; Kvilitaia.

Referee: D Makkelie (Netherlands).

Posted in International Soccer | Comments Off on Euro 2020 Qualifier Group D: Switzerland V Georgia – The Irish Times – November 16 2019

Camogie All-Star Tour Launch: Amy O’Connor (Cork) – The Evening Echo – November 15 2019

CAMOGIE

O’Connor can’t wait for NY trip

Daire Walsh

CORK camogie ace Amy O’Connor was understandably thrilled with the news that team manager Paudie Murray will be returning for a ninth season.

In the wake of their one-point defeat to eventual champions Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final last August, there was speculation that Murray could vacate his role.

Having failed to reach an O’Duffy Cup decider for the first time since 2013, O’Connor admits Cork could be entering into “a transformation phase”. However, she also insists that Murray’s continued presence within the group gives them the best possible chance.

“It’s difficult to come in from the outside and get to know a group of players. Paudie has been there, he knows us better than anyone and I think camogie has come on so much because of Paudie,” O’Connor stressed.

“He deserves huge credit for that. I think he raised the standard of the game. Obviously as players we’re delighted to have him back, because we do believe that he is the man to try and take Cork camogie back to the top. We don’t know how long it’s going to take. We’re going to go through a bit of a transformation, but we’ll see how it goes.”

A familiar face will be missing from the backroom team in 2020, though, as Murray’s brother Kevin has left the set-up to focus on his PhD studies. O’Connor is quick to highlight how the former Cloughduv and St Finbarr’s attacker helped to improve her game, but is also looking forward to working with new coaches in Liam Cronin and Eoin Galvin.

“Kevin is a huge loss. Kevin has a very unique style of coaching. I love the way he coaches. It suits me because Kevin was a forward himself. He’s attacking and as a forward we love that. Our defenders in training probably don’t!

“We’ve gotten in some management now, Liam Cronin from Clare and Eoin Galvin from Ballincollig. We’re really excited to get going with them and see what they have to offer.”

O’Connor was speaking in Croke Park last Thursday at the launch of the latest Camogie All-Star Tour, which takes place in New York from November 21-26.

While the St Vincent’s star is the county’s sole representative on this year’s selection, eight Rebelettes will feature on the 2018 team.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve never been to New York. I was on the last tour to Madrid, but I think by going it takes the whole thing to another level. New York being the big city that it is. It’s very exciting and it’s a very exciting time for camogie.

“I went the last time and there was a good few Cork girls and a good few double-ups. They’d gotten them both years, from different counties as well. It was great to be able to go, but it’s a bit better again this time.”

Nevertheless, as pleasing as this individual prize may be, it can’t make up for the crushing disappointment of Cork relinquishing their All-Ireland crown.

“I always say, if you’re from Cork and you don’t win, it’s not good enough. A very disappointing year because of that. I suppose by winning an All Star, it was a huge achievement for my club and it was brilliant for the club. But it doesn’t make it up either for losing with Cork in the semi-final.

“That’s your main focus at the start of the year, to win an All-Ireland. You don’t go out to win an All Star. You kind of set your goal at the start of the year, you want to be in an All-Ireland on the second Sunday in September.”

Given it was the first time since she joined the panel that Cork didn’t played a part in an All-Ireland senior showpiece, O’Connor was left with a strange feeling watching Galway and Kilkenny battle for national supremacy on September 8.

The open nature of their contest was a clear departure from the defence-orientated finals of previous seasons with a first-half goal blitz ultimately propelling the Tribeswomen towards a third O’Duffy Cup success.

O’Connor experienced mixed emotions as the action unfolded, but is confident her side can return to this stage sooner rather than later.

”The months of August and September were very strange for me and I’m sure an awful lot more of the Cork girls. It was great to watch [the final]. It was an open game, which I was surprised to see in a way. It was a breath of fresh air really to see it so open. Obviously it broke my heart a little bit to not be in it. Hopefully we’ll get back there soon,” O’Connor added.

Posted in Camogie | Comments Off on Camogie All-Star Tour Launch: Amy O’Connor (Cork) – The Evening Echo – November 15 2019

Camogie All Star Tour Launch: Grace Walsh (Kilkenny) – The Kilkenny People – November 14 2019

Camogie

WALSH: CATS HAVE A CLEAR VISION FOR 2020

Ahead of the All-Stars tour to New York, Kilkenny’s Grace Walsh tells Daire Walsh the Cats are ready to go again next year

Kilkenny camogie star Grace Walsh expects Brian Dowling to make a seamless transition to the role of senior team manager in 2020.

The O’Loughlin Gaels club man assumes the mantle from Cats legend Ann Downey, who stepped down in the aftermath of September’s All-Ireland final defeat to Galway. Dowling was added to the coaching set-up for her final season in charge and will be joined by Tommy Shefflin and Philly Larkin in the new backroom team.

While Walsh admits Downey’s departure leaves a considerable void, she firmly believes Kilkenny have acquired a natural replacement in Dowling.

“Ann is incredible. She’s unbelievable, she is Kilkenny camogie. It’s disappointing that she’s gone, but Brian is brilliant and he has shown us what he’s capable of in the last year. Very approachable and everyone respects him so much. To be honest, him becoming manager isn’t going to change things too much,” Walsh remarked.

“They all kind of shared the roles last year. He is a brilliant trainer as well as manager. We all know him really well at this stage. It’ll be great to see the two new lads in, Tommy Shefflin and Philly Larkin. Both with great hurling experience. Something to look forward to.”

PUTTING THINGS RIGHT

Instead of focusing on where it went wrong against the Tribeswomen, Walsh has her sights set on putting things right in next year’s championship. Despite falling to a third consecutive defeat in an O’Duffy Cup final decider – Cork got the better of them in 2017 and 2018 – she is confident they can remain in the shake-up for top honours.

“You go back if you believe your team are good enough to win,” she said. “I don’t even think – I know that we’re good enough. It’s just about reaching our potential on the day of the big games.

“For us this year, Galway blew us out of the water. It’s very disappointing for us to lose, but it’s something we can’t dwell on. We can’t change what has happened in the past. We just have to look forward to 2020.”

In stark contrast to the pessimism that greeted the game 12 months earlier, the impressive fare produced in the 2019 showpiece was the perfect footnote to an exciting year of camogie action. Walsh credits the role referees have played in helping the sport to evolve.

“I think 2019 has actually been incredible. There’s been a huge change, the game has been way more free-flowing and girls are able to express themselves and play real camogie when it’s not stop-start, stop-start,” she said. “It just showed what can happen when the referees let it go this year, because all the games were really exciting and very skilful.”

Walsh was speaking in Croke Park at the launch of the latest Camogie All Star Tour, which takes place in New York from November 21-26. The 2018 and 2019 All Star teams will face each other at Gaelic Park on November 23, with a reception at the Irish Consulate also forming part of the trip.

Seven Kilkenny players in total will be making the Stateside journey, with Walsh joining Anne Dalton, Meighan Farrell, Katie Power and Denise Gaule on the 2018 selection.

“When I was told we were going to New York City for the All Star trip, I couldn’t believe it to be honest. Something that not everybody will say they got to do before, is go to New York. I feel very lucky,” Walsh said.

“It’s nice to have some of your own crew with you. Equally, it’s nice to get to know the girls you’re playing against every year. It’ll be nice to make a few new friends.”

Posted in Camogie | Comments Off on Camogie All Star Tour Launch: Grace Walsh (Kilkenny) – The Kilkenny People – November 14 2019

Leinster Schools Senior ‘A’ Football Championship Round-Up: The Evening Herald – November 14 2019

LEINSTER COLL SENIOR ‘A’ FC

Leinster wins for Eoin and Benildus

Daire Walsh

CHAMPIONS of 2014 Coláiste Eoin began their Leinster Schools Senior ‘A’ Football Championship campaign with a gritty 0-13 to 0-9 triumph over Good Counsel, New Ross at UCD on Tuesday afternoon.

The Gaelscoil are a regular fixture at the business end of this provincial competition and are odds-on to reach the knockout rounds regardless of how their final group game – against fellow Dublin school St Fintan’s HS, Sutton – pans out.

Eoin didn’t have it all their own away against the Slaneysiders and found themselves on level terms (0-8 apiece) at an advanced stage in the second half.

POWERFUL

However, a powerful final-quarter showing eventually got Eoin over the line in clinical style.

Meanwhile, St Benildus College also enjoyed a winning start to Group E on home soil yesterday. Despite encountering a stubborn resistance from the ever-competitive Patrician Secondary School, Newbridge they emerged with a precious 3-8 to 1-11 success.

When you consider holders Naas CBS are the third team in this pool, there was a ‘must-win’ feel to this clash. While Patricians had the better of the opening exchanges, a well-time goal propelled Benildus into a 1-4 to 0-5 interval cushion.

Though the tie remained delicately poised, a second Benildus major on the stroke of 40 minutes created fresh daylight between the sides. Patricians fired back with a goal of their own from Cian McHugh – only for their southside hosts to immediately respond with another three-pointer.

To their credit, the Lilywhites persevered with their challenge and Ben Scanlon was agonisingly close to claiming an equaliser in the dying moments. Yet, Benildus ultimately held out and can now look forward to an away meeting with Naas on November 27.

Posted in Schools GAA | Comments Off on Leinster Schools Senior ‘A’ Football Championship Round-Up: The Evening Herald – November 14 2019

Post-Match Reaction: Women’s Rugby International – Laura Feely – Ireland V Wales – Irishrugby.ie – November 11 2019

‘The Finish Of That Game Is Fixable’ – Feely

By Daire Walsh

Despite suffering a frustrating 15-13 defeat to Wales at the UCD Bowl yesterday afternoon, Ireland Women’s prop Laura Feely saw considerable cause for optimism.

Courtesy of tries in each half from Linda Djougang and Enya Breen, the girls in green had put themselves in a strong position for a breakthrough November Test victory.

Keira Bevan’s 83rd-minute try ultimately denied them in the cruellest of fashions, but Feely pointed to their committed defence and the introduction of new blood as signs of progression within the Adam Griggs-led set-up.

“Definitely plenty of positives to take from that. We’ve been working hard on our defence and that really showed in the first and second half,” admitted the Galwegians and Connacht loosehead.

“That’s what we were really focusing on and hoping to get out of that match. Delighted with the defensive structure. Definitely work-ons taking into another camp next week. Straight into working on things that went wrong, but definitely positives.

“That’s the whole thing about this November Test and camps. It’s great leading into the Six Nations, we can hit the basics of our system and stuff. Really ramp it up after Christmas.

“We’ll go away now as individuals as well over Christmas. Get our fitness up and get our individual skill level up. Coming back knowing the system we put in place this last few weeks.”

Reflecting on the nail-biting end to the contest in Belfield, Feely is confident that the errors that led to Wales creating a platform for a last-gasp winner are something that can easily be rectified.

“The finish of that game is fixable. Our own penalties kinda killed us and that. Our own ill-discipline the whole way through that match is all that went wrong. Easy fixes. We were dominant in that match and we should have just trusted our system.”

While Hannah O’Connor, Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony and Niamh Ni Dhroma earned their first international caps off the bench, Judy Bobbett was making her own Ireland debut alongside Nichola Fryday in the second row.

Although it has been a baptism of fire for the Meath youngster, who won her first Leinster senior cap as recently as August, Feely believes the strong-carrying Bobbett will give the Irish pack added dynamism.

“Judy has been going great this last while in training. She’s really come in and just fitted so seamlessly into the squad. She’s a powerhouse of a young girl and it’s great having that dominant carrier in the pack. It’s something we’ve been looking for, for a long time.”

In the build-up to Sunday’s game, the Ireland Women had training weekends in France and Scotland. While they did not face their Six Nations rivals in competitive fare, they nevertheless got a taste of what to expect in the fast-approaching 2020 Championship.

“We’re very lucky that we’re just back from a week in France of training over there with the French squad. We got to play a match against them as well,” explained the 27-year-old Feely.

“We also got to play our younger girls against their Under-20s as well, so that was great for our younger members and uncapped players coming into the squad.

“We were in Scotland for a training game over there as well. Leading into this game, we feel like we’ve come on a lot since the last time we played in the Six Nations. It has been a good few months of camp.”

Like the majority of Ireland’s squad – the English-based players being obvious exceptions – Feely came into the November clash on the back of the newly-expanded IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship.

The Donegal native was part of the Connacht side that shocked Munster on their way to booking a final date with eventual champions Leinster and felt the benefits of the extra Interpro matches on her return to the Ireland camp.

“Even personally, I’ve found that I was at a different level coming into this November block than ever before. The five games really stood to us. We’re playing against each other during that series, but you’re learning a lot about each other at the same time. It’s good.”

Posted in International Rugby, Women's Rugby | Comments Off on Post-Match Reaction: Women’s Rugby International – Laura Feely – Ireland V Wales – Irishrugby.ie – November 11 2019

Post-Match Reaction: Women’s Rugby International – Adam Griggs – Ireland V Wales – Irishrugby.ie – November 11 2019

Griggs: We Showed Some Glimpses Of Really Good Rugby

By Daire Walsh

Ireland Women’s head coach Adam Griggs admitted his side produced a patchy performance in their last-gasp 15-13 defeat at the hands of Wales in a keenly-contested November Test at the UCD Bowl.

Having pushed 10 points clear courtesy of Enya Breen’s impressive 43rd-minute try – Linda Djougang also crossed the whitewash during the first half – Ireland looked set to make a winning start to the international season.

A resolute Wales subsequently fought their way back, drawing level at 10 points each, and even though an Ellen Murphy penalty squeezed Ireland back in front, Keira Bevan’s 83rd-minute try propelled the Welsh over the finish line.

Understandably disappointed to miss out on a much-coveted win, which would have been just their second of 2019, Griggs also acknowledged the manner of their loss made it a tough pill to swallow.

“The last six weeks of our preparation have been building towards this Test match at home in front of our friends and family. It’s still disappointing and I guess the way the victory came for Wales was that much harder to take,” admitted Griggs, speaking after the game.

“I think we were just patchy. Again, there’s learnings for us. We showed some glimpses of really good rugby. We played with the ball quite well, we stretched them. Probably in the first half, I think we left a couple of opportunities for points behind us and let them out of their own half too easily.

“In Test match rugby, you can’t afford to do that. In the second half I think our intensity dropped off a bit. We let them in with a couple of line breaks.

“We started to soak tackle which gave them the front-foot ball that they wanted. Again, it was just ultimately we’ve got to remain focused and keep up our intensity for a full 80 minutes.”

Despite being pipped to the post, there was a number of positives for Griggs and his new coaching team of Kieran Hallett and Steve McGinnis. The versatile Eimear Considine stood out at full-back, while captain Ciara Griffin once again produced an all-action performance.

“You can see Eimear’s skill level, she’s very good with the ball in hand, she’s good under the high ball as well. We just made that switch between her and Lauren (Delany).

“We’ve been putting Lauren on the wing, who again is a really strong carrier. I thought Eimear was outstanding today, she was highly involved and I know she’ll get better and better from that.

“Ciara is such a good leader. She’s ultimately one who leads by example, she won’t say a lot but she’s someone who leads by the way she plays. I know the girls will always go to war for her as well. I thought she was really good.

“Even looking out wider, Enya I thought was really good today and she’s another one who only has a handful of caps. The way she played and the way she backed herself more, that’s the depth we’re going to need. In two or three years time, when she’s got 25 caps, you’re going to see ultimately a really good player there as well.”

Griggs also mentioned the impact made by Judy Bobbett, one of four Ireland players to make their international bows. The Meath teenager put in a strong 49-minute shift alongside Nichola Fryday in the second row, before making way for fellow new cap Hannah O’Connor.

Following a productive interprovincial campaign in the Leinster colours, Bobbett earned a spot in the extended Ireland squad for this window. Training weekends in Scotland and France helped her to settle into the international environment and a first Ireland cap rounds off a fine journey to the senior grade for the promising forward.

The New Zealander noted: “For Judy, she’s had a great few months, obviously winning the interpros with Leinster and putting her hand up for selection. We’ve been really impressed with what she’s done in camp.

“I think she’s one of those ones now that you see coming through from the underage system. I know there was a photo (on social media) of her running out for a Six Nations game as a mascot!

“Her family will be very proud of her. She’s grown up with rugby and you can see that in her rugby IQ, her knowledge of it and obviously her skill level as well. She’ll learn from days like today as well.

“There’a a few things I’m sure she’ll be a little bit disappointed with, but that’s that new breed of player coming through and for us, trying to build some depth. I thought she was really good today.”

Ireland’s focus now turns to their Women’s Six Nations opener against Scotland at Energia Park on Sunday, February 2. Griggs feels that their recent trips to Scotland and France will prove invaluable for the squad a hectic 2020 gets underway.

“Test matches are great. You don’t really want to learn from a loss like this in a Test match, but the camps we had the last couple of weeks have been brilliant,” he explained.

“We were over in France and that wasn’t just a game. We got to train against them fully opposed, full contact. They’ve been really accommodating to us, helping the girls as well.

“Something like that can actually be more beneficial than just going out and playing. We got five days over there with them (the French) and saw the way they worked as more professional and more full-time than us. I think it opened some of our girls’ eyes to what it takes to be one of the top teams in the world.”

Posted in International Rugby, Women's Rugby | Comments Off on Post-Match Reaction: Women’s Rugby International – Adam Griggs – Ireland V Wales – Irishrugby.ie – November 11 2019

Women’s Rugby International Test: Ireland V Wales – The Irish Examiner – November 11 2019

Women’s International: Defeat for disappointing Ireland as late score earns Wales victory

By Daire Walsh

Ireland 13 – 15 Wales

Ireland’s search for a maiden November Women’s International victory continues after they suffered an agonising defeat to Wales in the UCD Bowl on Sunday afternoon.

Adam Griggs’ charges looked set to hold out for their first Autumn Series triumph in seven attempts when Ellen Murphy knocked over a 74th-minute penalty. However, there was enough time for Wales’ replacement scrum-half Keira Bevan to strike a decisive blow deep into second-half stoppage-time.

Following a disappointing Six Nations campaign, Ireland were aiming to end 2019 on a high. Instead of opting for the posts off a succession of early penalties, out-half Murphy kicked to touch in a bid to create a set-piece platform.

While this didn’t paid dividends, the hosts ultimately broke the deadlock on 19 minutes. Full-back Eimear Considine embarked on a weaving run through the heart of the Welsh defence and was hauled down just shy of the whitewash.

The ball was quickly recycled to the left of the posts, where Cameroon-born prop Linda Djougang was on hand to power over for her first international try.

Wales started to find their feet as the action progressed, but disciplined Irish defence ensured they were kept at bay until the interval.

Whereas the opening period struggled to catch fire, a pulsating start to the second period brought much-needed life to the proceedings. Capitalising on impressive build-up play by Considine and Murphy, Skibbereen’s Enya Breen found herself in space on the left-flank.

She feigned a pass out wide to Beibhinn Parsons – and evaded a Kayleigh Powell tackle – on her way to grabbing Ireland’s second unconverted try. Wales refused to give in, though, and immediately responded with a coolly-struck Robyn Wilkins penalty.

Moving into the final-quarter, lively replacement Sioned Harries crashed over via a line-out move and Wilkins’ bonus strike brought her side back on level terms.

Murphy’s routine place-kick looked set to hand Ireland a morale-boosting success only for Bevan to snatch the spoils with a last-gasp finish off an attacking maul.

Scorers for Ireland: L Djougang, E Breen try each, E Murphy pen.

Scorers for Wales: S Harries, K Bevan try each, R Wilkins pen, con.

IRELAND: E Considine; L Delany, E Breen, S Naoupu, B Parsons; E Murphy, N Cronin; L Feely, C Moloney, L Djougang; N Fryday, J Bobbett; C Griffin, E McMahon, A Caplice.

Replacements: H O’Connor for Bobbett (49), V Dabanovich-O’Mahony for Moloney, AM O’Hora for Feely, K Dane for Cronin (all 52), N Ní Dhroma for Caplice (66), M Claffey for Breen (67).

WALES: K Powell; P Randall, A Donovan, R Wilkins, C Keight; E Snowsill, F Lewis; G Pyrs, K Jones, A Evans; N John, G Crabb; A Callender, B Lewis, S Lillicrap.

Replacements: K Bevan for F Lewis (53), R Lock for Callender, M Webb for Donovan (both 58), S Harries for John (64), C Phillips for Jones, C Hale for Evans (both 69), R O’Loughlin for Randall (76).

Referee: R Mahoney (New Zealand).

 

Posted in International Rugby, Women's Rugby | Comments Off on Women’s Rugby International Test: Ireland V Wales – The Irish Examiner – November 11 2019

Women’s Rugby International Test: Ireland V Wales – The Irish Times – November 11 2019

Ireland pipped at the post by Wales

Injury-time Keira Bevan try secures victory for Wales at UCD

Daire Walsh 

Ireland 13 Wales 15

Ireland’s search for a maiden November Women’s International victory continues after they suffered an agonising defeat to Wales in the UCD Bowl on Sunday afternoon.

Adam Griggs’ charges looked set to hold out for just their second win of 2019 when Ellen Murphy knocked over a close-range penalty on 74 minutes. However, there was enough time for Wales’ replacement scrumhalf Keira Bevan to strike a decisive blow deep into second-half stoppage-time.

Following a disappointing Six Nations campaign, Ireland were aiming to end 2019 on a high. Instead of opting for the posts off a succession of early penalties, outhalf Murphy kicked to touch in a bid to create a set-piece platform.

While this didn’t paid dividends, the hosts ultimately broke the deadlock in the 19th minute. Fullback Eimear Considine embarked on a weaving run through the heart of the Welsh defence and was hauled down just shy of the whitewash.

The ball was quickly recycled to the left of the posts, where Cameroon-born prop Linda Djougang was on hand to power over for her first international try. Murphy’s subsequent conversion was wide of the mark, but Ireland had established an encouraging platform on the first-quarter mark.

Nevertheless, Wales started to find their feet as the action progressed. Thanks to some fine tactical kicking from Osprey’s Elinor Snowsill, they kept their Celtic rivals on the back-foot for an extended spell.

However, they lacked a cutting edge in attack and disciplined Irish defence forced a series of turnovers deep inside their own ‘22’.

Whereas the opening period struggled to catch fire, a pulsating start to the second half brought much-needed life to the proceedings. Capitalising on impressive build-up play by Considine and Murphy, Skibbereen’s Enya Breen found herself in space on the left-flank.

She feigned a pass out wide to Beibhinn Parsons and evaded a despairing Kayleigh Powell tackle on her way to grabbing Ireland’s second unconverted score of the contest. Wales refused to give in, though, and immediately responded at the opposite end with a coolly-struck Robyn Wilkins penalty.

Moving into the final-quarter, lively replacement Sioned Harries crashed over via a lineout move and Wilkins’ bonus strike brought her side back on level terms. Murphy’s routine place-kick looked set to hand Ireland a morale-boosting success only for Bevan to snatch the spoils with a last-gasp finish off an attacking maul.

Ireland: E Considine; L Delany, E Breen, S Naoupu, B Parsons; E Murphy, N CroninL FeelyC Moloney, L Djougang; N Fryday, J Bobbett; C Griffin, E McMahon, A Caplice. Replacements: H O’Connor for Bobbett (49 mins), V Dabanovich-O’Mahony for Moloney, AM O’Hora for Feely, K Dane for Cronin (all 52); N Ní Dhroma for Caplice (66), M Claffey for Breen (69).

Wales: K Powell; P Randall, A Donovan, R Wilkins, C Keight; E Snowsill, F LewisG PyrsK Jones, A Evans; N JohnG Crabb; A Callender, B LewisS LillicrapReplacements: K Bevan for F Lewis (53 mins), R Lock for Callender, M Webb for Donovan (both 58), S Harries for John (64), C Phillips for Jones, C Hale for Evans (both 69), R O’Loughlin for Randall (76).

RefereeR Mahoney (New Zealand).

Posted in International Rugby, Women's Rugby | Comments Off on Women’s Rugby International Test: Ireland V Wales – The Irish Times – November 11 2019

Women’s International Rugby Test: Ireland V Wales – Irishrugby.ie – November 10 2019

Last-Gasp Try Denies Ireland Women A Winning Start To Season

By Daire Walsh

2019 NOVEMBER INTERNATIONAL: Sunday, November 10

IRELAND WOMEN 13 WALES WOMEN 15, UCD Bowl
Scorers: Ireland Women: Tries: Linda Djougang, Enya Breen; Pen: Ellen Murphy
Wales Women: Tries: Sioned Harries, Keira Bevan; Con: Robyn Wilkins; Pen: Robyn Wilkins
HT: Ireland Women 5 Wales Women 0

The Ireland Women’s search for a maiden November Test victory continues after Wales snatch the spoils in dramatic fashion at the UCD Bowl this afternoon.

Adam Griggs’ charges were on the cusp of a winning start to their international season when Ellen Murphy landed a 74th minute penalty. Ireland had created some daylight through Linda Djougang and Enya Breen tries, before Wales fired back with 10 unanswered points.

The Ciara Griffin-led hosts were still primed to hold out for just their second success of 2019, until replacement scrum half Keira Bevan sniped over for a last-gasp try from close range which saw Wales prevail 15-13.

For the Ireland Women’s first game in just under eight months – a St. Patrick’s Day defeat to Wales in Cardiff brought their 2019 Six Nations campaign to a close – head coach Griggs included one new cap in the starting XV.

Meath teenager Judy Bobbett was named alongside Nichola Fryday in the second row and joined her Blackrock club-mates Michelle Claffey and Hannah O’Connor in the matchday squad.

Back rower O’Connor was one of four uncapped players on the Irish bench and came on to make her debut in the second half along with her Leinster colleagues, Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony and Niamh Ni Dhroma.

Wales gave debuts to their starting back-three of Kayleigh Powell, Paige Randall and Courtney Keight. They made the trip across the Irish Sea on the back of a 29-5 defeat to Spain in Madrid last weekend, which saw them drop down to ninth in the World Rugby Rankings.

Ireland patiently put the ball through the hands during the early stages of the contest, with captain Griffin once again a prominent figure. Murphy, who made her first start at out-half, eventually found touch in the fifth minute – kick-starting a dominant spell of possession inside the Welsh 22.

The home side were awarded a series of penalties and they looked to their set piece for a potential deadlock-breaker. Galway teenager Beibhinn Parsons impressed during Connacht’s recent march to the Interprovincial final, and her strong carry brought Ireland within touching distance of the Welsh whitewash.

The determined Welsh defence held firm, though, and earned a turnover scrum on the 10-minute mark. Both sides found it difficult to create attacking momentum, with both packs largely dictating the flow of the game.

That was until Ireland’s flying full-back and player-of-the-match Eimear Considine took the initiative with a brilliant weaving run through the defence. She was stopped just short, but some quick recycling led to powerful prop Djougang crashing over to the left of the posts for her first try for Ireland.

While Murphy’s conversion attempt went wide, Ireland were enjoying an encouraging start. Establishing good territory in response, Wales threatened to draw level in the 23rd minute only for some disciplined defence to thwart them.

Wales forced Ireland to dig deep in defence for an extended spell as they won a number of penalties to advance up the left touchline. Even when their lineout maul had them hunting inside the Irish 22, the visitors were denied by superb work by scrum half Nicole Cronin who claimed a turnover penalty.

The sturdy Irish defence maintained the 5-0 lead up to half-time, with Wales flanker Alex Callender knocking on from a late attacking move to bring a scrappy first half to a close. While the game never truly caught fire before the break, that all changed on the restart.

Catching the eye again in attack, the impressive Considine carried with serious intent. She broke into the Welsh 22, combining slickly with Murphy who managed to release Breen who cut inside Powell a few metres out for a smartly-taken five-pointer.

However, a missed Murphy conversion kept Wales within reach and they soon opened their account. Centre Robyn Wilkins superbly judged a 30-metre penalty from the kicking tee, reducing the deficit to 10-3 in the process.

With both coaching teams looking to their respective benches, the intensity of the play dipped to a certain degree. The contest remained delicately poised moving into the final quarter and a smashing Welsh strike move squared things up in the 68th minute.

Using quick lineout ball, lively replacement Sioned Harries burst onto a Wilkins pass in midfield and sliced open the home defence to raid over to the right of the posts. Wilkins comfortably added the extras to make it 10-all and set up a fascinating finale.

Ireland were hell-bent on breaking their autumn duck and were on course to do so following Murphy’s successful penalty kick. However, there was enough time for Wales to gain a couple of crucial scrum penalties and forge a final assault on the Irish line.

Although the girls in green almost turned them over with an incisive counter ruck, they could not prevent the alert Bevan from spotting a sliver of space to score with 83 minutes on the clock. Wilkins’ conversion effort was pushed wide to the right, but Wales had done enough to come out on top.

IRELAND WOMEN: Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster); Lauren Delany (Firwood Waterloo Ladies/IQ Rugby), Enya Breen (UL Bohemians/Munster), Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe/Connacht); Ellen Murphy (Gloucester-Hartpury/IQ Rugby), Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians/Munster); Laura Feely (Galwegians/Connacht), Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps/IQ Rugby), Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Nichola Fryday (Old Belvedere/Connacht), Judy Bobbett (Blackrock/Leinster), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt), Edel McMahon (Wasps/Connacht), Anna Caplice (Harlequins/IQ Rugby).

Replacements used: Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock/Leinster) for Bobbett (49 mins), Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony (Old Belvedere/Leinster) for Moloney, Anne-Marie O’Hora (Galwegians/Connacht) for Feely, Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster) for Cronin (all 52), Niamh Ni Dhroma (Old Belvedere/Leinster) for Caplice (66), Michelle Claffey (Blackrock/Leinster) for Breen (67). Not used: Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union/Leinster).

WALES WOMEN: Kayleigh Powell (Ospreys); Paige Randall (Cardiff Blues), Alecs Donovan (Ospreys), Robyn Wilkins (Cardiff Blues), Courtney Keight (Ospreys); Elinor Snowsill (Ospreys), Ffion Lewis (Scarlets); Gwenllian Pyrs (RGC), Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Natalia John (Ospreys), Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Alex Callender (Scarlets), Bethan Lewis (Scarlets), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys) (capt).

Replacements used: Keira Bevan (Ospreys) for F Lewis (53 mins), Robyn Lock (Ospreys) for Callender, Megan Webb (Cardiff Blues) for Donovan (both 58), Sioned Harries (Scarlets) for John (64), Carys Phillips (Ospreys) for Jones, Cerys Hale (Cardiff Blues) for Evans (both 69), Rebekah O’Loughlin (Cardiff Blues) for Randall (76). Not used: Gwenllian Jenkins (Scarlets).

Referee: Rebecca Mahoney (New Zealand)

Posted in International Rugby, Women's Rugby | Comments Off on Women’s International Rugby Test: Ireland V Wales – Irishrugby.ie – November 10 2019