Girls share the limelight with real rugby legends
Girls from two County Wexford rugby clubs got to share the limelight with some true legends of the game on the last Six Nations weekend in Dublin, ahead of Ireland taking on England in the Aviva Stadium.
On the Saturday night ahead of that Sunday afternoon match, an Ireland Legends v England Legends charity match took place in Donnybrook Stadium for the Stuart Mangan Memorial Cup, and the half-time entertainment there was provided by a match between the under-12 girls teams from Gorey RFC and Enniscorthy RFC.
The game was arranged through former Ireland and Lions hooker Shane Byrne, who is originally from Aughrim but who now lives in Castletown and whose twin daughters, Kerry and Alex, play for Gorey.
Shane was the captain on the night of an Ireland Legends team that also included County Wexford's own former Ireland and Lions star Nick Popplewell, as well as other stars of the past like Trevor Brennan and Mick Galwey. Meanwhile, the England team was backboned by the likes of Laurance Dallaglio and Austin Healey.
Larry Mackey of Enniscorthy RFC said there was great excitement when the girls there found out about the opportunity to line out on the same night. 'It was thanks to Shane Byrne,' he said. 'It was a wonderrful opportunity for the girls to play in a stadium like that and they loved every minute. It's also great to promote the girls rugby, because it's a new venture for us and numbers are steadily increasing.'
The game turned out to be a closely contested draw, with the sides scoring one try each. Nicola Doyle of Gorey RFC said: 'The girls were absolutely wired! They were so excited before the game and they really enjoyed it. It was great for them to experience playing somewhere like that.'
The omens were good for Nicola for the Legends game too as she had rushed to see it from the Ireland v England ladies rugby game. 'My husband is the coach for the Irish women's team and we had just come from a game where they beat England for the first time in 17 years, so we were really on a high for the game,' she said.
The Irish legends, under the leadership of Byrne, eventually went on to claim a narrow victory over England in a closely contested game. 'The legends game was great fun too,' Nicola said. 'A lot of them are still pretty good. Trevor Brennan in particular definitely hasn't lost it. He was throwing English men all over the place!'