O'Boyle sets Castlebar on way to cup glory
Castlebar claimed a 35-12 victory over Galwegians 2ndXV to triumph in the Connacht 10-a-side Invitational Cup on Sunday.
Castlebar's pacey and robust Joyce O'Boyle chalked up try number one within three minutes of kick-off, with scrum-half Becky Gavin adding the extras.
The first half thereafter fell into a more traditional step, largely slogged out in close-quarters between the two 22m lines.
Galwegians broke the deadlock through recently returned Sorcha Ni Chadhain's hard-running metres from the Castlebar line, offloading a slick short ball to a well positioned Denise Reamonn, who later converted her own try.
With three minutes remaining, Castlebar took full advantage and ran in their second try, back-rower Lisa Carroll making short work from 22 metres out and Gavin never looked like missing off the tee.
While both sides seemed aware of the space 10-a-side rugby affords expansive distributors, neither sought any first-half width preferring instead to pick-and-go from the base or utilise runners in the 9/10 channel.
Castlebar's second try was the first concerted effort of the half to plunder ample space nearer the sidelines and it paid dividends.
After the break, Galwegians shifted into higher gear. Ni Chadhain and scrum-half Helen Duffy did the damage with deftly-weighted kicks, forcing much of the first 12 minutes to play out deep in Castlebar territory.
The hosts' Connacht-capped captain Anne-Marie O'Hora broke free of a gang tackle against the run of play and the lean prop shortened the distance between her own starter's blocks and the goal-line, going 45 metres to score Castlebar's third. Gavin pushed the scoreline out to 21-7.
O'Hora's next touch about 90 seconds later on the other side of the paddock saw her scoot 35 metres to go in under the posts, the result of defensive lapses and quick thinking.
Gavin again didn't disappoint and with a quarter-hour to go, 28-7 looked unassailable.
O'Boyle was back in the action bothering the scorers with Castlebar's fifth try in an admirable solo effort through both heavy traffic and open space, leaving Gavin little trouble for the kick. Two more for the No 9.
Other than a final Reamonn dart down the left-hand touchline (unconverted), Galwegians' second half was several notches off their own first-half pace, and several more short of Castlebar's.
That said, Ina Butler (wing), Duffy and Ni Chadhain in the halves, tryscorer (and kicker) Reamonn and late injection Risa Egerton all shone for the visitors.
Unflappable former skipper and livewire flanker Caroline Staunton, tryscrorers O'Hora and O'Boyle, No 8 Lisa Carroll and outhalf Darwyn O'Halloran steered a steady Castlebar ship throughout. Gavin's 100 pc radar success also merit a mention.
CBIRFU President Pat Piggott commended both sides on their respective performances, but lauded Castlebar's leadership in maintaining pressure as soon as an advantage emerged.
"To the victors the spoils, and it's always easier going home with some silverware. Castlebar you made sure very early on in the second half this trophy was staying here."
O'Hora was typically diplomatic in her post-match appraisal saying there was no such thing as an easy game when Galwegians were involved.
Meanwhile, Buccaneers claimed the Invitational Cup Plate honours following their 40-20 triumph over Tuam in Athlone.