SO CLOSE and yet so far might be an apt phrase for the Drumettes ladies rugby team from Rathdrum who finished on the losing side of a 8-5 score line in the Leinster League Division 1 final on Saturday last in Athy.
The final whistle in what was a fierce battle broke the hearts of the gallant Rathdrum women who have enjoyed a tremendous season.
They have had a very successful league campaign with six wins, one draw and five losses earning them a third place slot on the Leinster Division 1 table.
This standing led them to take on second place Cill Dara away at Beech Park Kildare on Sunday January 20 in the Division 1 semi-final.
This was to be a thrilling and tight match, which saw Cill Dara open the scoring with a well taken penalty, the home side only managed a second penalty score in the course of the game due to an outstanding Rathdrum defence.
Rathdrum were unlucky not to score on several occasions, as the battled hard. Eventually the answer came from the Rathdrum's captain Sue Brady, who touched down under the posts after a breaking the Cill Dara defence.
The conversion was easily slotted home by Mo Dowling leaving the final score 7-6. Rathdrum were through to their first ever Leinster Division 1 final.
The Leinster Division 1 final took place in the show grounds in Athy with Leinster Women's Rugby hosting four finals on the day from Development League to Division 1. Rathdrum were fighting for promotion to A.I.L. next season.
The Drumettes were to face a tough Edenderry side that had won 11 out of their 12 league games this season and had been in the final of the league last year. Rathdrum knew from the start that this would be a big challenge.
The latest encounter of the two sides was after the Christmas break. The score on that occasion could not have been tighter and Rathdrum lost by a single penalty kick in the last five minutes to allow the Offaly team a 3-0 win.
In very windy and rainy conditions at the Showgrounds, Rathdrum opened the game superbly, with a chip through from Mo Dowling in the first five minutes seeing Neasa Olohan stopped just meters from the Edenderry try line.
Edenderry knew Rathdrum were up for it and the well matched teams fought hard as conditions worsened.
A slip up on Rathdrum's part saw Edenderry kick their way into the lead again, the score sat at 3-0. Rathdrum attacked well, battled hard and put forward a fine display of rugby.
As the women put their bodies on the line for their club, Rathdrum looked to be the stronger side.
However an unfortunate bounce of a ball saw Edenderry over the line for their first try, the conversion failed.
Rathdrum knew it was up to them to answer and were unlucky on several occasions as players broke through the Edenderry defense only to be denied.
Eventually it was vice-captain Ann-Marie Burke who ploughed her way over the line to see Rathdrum 8-5 down. Mo Dowling was harshly denied by the post and the score remained 8-5.
Although Rathdrum attacked hard at the Edenderry line and camped for periods in the Edenderry 22, another score was not to come. The game finished 5-8 in favour of Edenderry. Although distraught the Drumettes have everything to be proud of, with an outstanding display of rugby entertaining the vast number of supporters who travelled to Athy.
The current squad stand a very strong chance in their next cup campaign which starts next Sunday in Longford. Rathdrum Ladies Squad 2012/2013: Tara Jackson, Sharon Fox, Aine Geoghegan, Amy O'Neill, Aoife McGrath, Kellie Fennell, Ann marie Burke, Emily Ryan, Maureen Dowling, Sue Brady (Captain), Neasa Olohan, Emma Carroll, Orla Redmond, Jessica Rowden, Heather Murphy, Hannah Fletcher, Pamela Maher, Lisa Cahill, Collete Phelan, Neasa Clissman, Niamh O'Kelly, Anna O'Neill, Jennie Fortune, Stephanie Ward Windsor, Selena Kindersley and Stephanie Rattrary.