Hayes targets hat-trick for UL Bohemians
UL Bohemians captain Fiona Hayes lifted the women’s trophy for a second year in a row after the table toppers overcame Old Belvedere in yesterday ’s sun-kissed final in Portlaoise.
Seán Fitzpatrick’s UL’s powerful scrum forced a first-half penalty try and Niamh Briggs’ pinpoint crossfield kick set up winger Laura Sheehan for the clinching score, 17 minutes from time. There was hardly a bigger smile than that etched across the face of UL loosehead and skipper Hayes. “Three in a row – I was think of retiring, but now the three in-a-row looks inviting, and sure I could go peacefully after that,” she quipped.
Bohs may have dominated long spells of the first half but some costly turnovers denied them scoring opportunities. Old Belvedere look dangerous on the counter attack – including a snappy break from Nora Stapleton – but all too often poor handling let them down when they looked to have created some hard-earned space.
UL should have taken the lead midway through the half when the power of their pack told once again.
Having gone through the phases inside the Old Belvedere 22, they moved the ball left only for winger Laura O’Mahony to knock on with the line at her mercy. However, just minutes later, they took the lead after a series of five-metre scrums when referee Daithí Flood’s patience ran out and he awarded the penalty try. Bohs’ experienced frontrow of Hayes, Gillian Bourke and Fiona Reidy the trio from Munster’s Interprovincial title-winning campaign - did the damage.
With 37 minutes on the clock, Bohs outhalf Briggs split the posts with a penalty from 35 metres out, after Old Belvedere had been penalised for not releasing.
Belvedere winger Gemma Matthews earned plaudits for a try-saving intervention out wide. Halfbacks Nicole Cronin and Briggs combined to set Áine Staunton free close to the halfway line. The fullback went on a mazy run only to be stopped inches short by scrumhalf Kathryn Dane. From the ensuing scrum, UL worked the phases and when the opportunity arose, Briggs delivered her crossfield kick into Sheehan’s arms for a touchdown.