Saturday 21 April 2018

High-flying 'Drum reach Plate semis

Rugby: AIL Plate quarter

Rathdrum’s Sammy McCoy and Aine Geoghegan stand strong in the face of a Derry attack
Rathdrum’s Sammy McCoy and Aine Geoghegan stand strong in the face of a Derry attack

Last Sunday, the women from Rathdrum made the longest journey of their careers to take on City of Derry RFC.

Rathdrum 41 City of Derry 0

The City of Derry women had recently become Ulster champions having seen off Ballinahinch RFC. In the week prior to the game it was clear the city of Derry women were keen to make their mark on AIL territory and to do their city proud.

Rathdrum however, were also keen to show their worth and made the decision to head to Derry Saturday night to prepare as best they could.

On Sunday morning the women awoke to a freezing fog over Derry City and the pitch slowing thawing, however the atmosphere in the Rathdrum camp was calm and focused.

The game opened, still under a thick, fog with Derry kicking into Rathdrum.

Rathdrum took off at pace, and within the opening five minutes, the sharp hands of the Rathdrum backs found Orla Redmond who took the ball from her own half and danced through the Derry defence to score for Rathdrum.

Within minutes a repeat performance found Heather Cullen on the left wing, she, in similar style to Redmond stepped through a somewhat startled defensive line to score under the posts.

The score sat at 12-0 with less then 10 minutes gone.

From here Rathdrum slowed and Derry attacked, the Derry side ran with gusto towards the Rathdrum defence however, they could not cross the stalwart defensive line.

Despite Derry having a decided weight advantage over the Rathdrum pack, Rathdrum dominated the set plays-something they will take as huge positive.

Rathdrum without doubt left numerous scores behind in the first half.

Several tries were denied just at and approaching the Derry line. However, the half closed 12-0 to Rathdrum.

In the second half, Rathdrum made amends for the scores they left behind.

Mo Dowling opened the half with a penalty infront of the posts which she easily kicked.

Following anther sperb Rathdrum lineout, Mo Dowling found a gap mid-field, finding Caitlin Olohan who was stopped just short of the try line, a quick recycle saw Orla Redmond cross for her second of the day.

A well placed kick up the left wing by Mo Dowling saw Heather Cullen nab the ball from the middle of two Derry defenders, she happily then sprinted to the Derry line to touch down under the posts.

Rathdrum having earned all of their tries out wide, took to a pick and go game from around the mid-field line.

Considering the size advantage the Derry women held it was surprising to see the Rathdrum pack march forward steadily.

The final burst came from Kellie Fennell who drove over the line for the next score of the day.

The final try was to come in a similar fashion to earlier, on the left wing.

Trish Byrne scooped a loose ball in front of a Derry player, dodged their attempts to stop her and sprinted for the tryline.

The game closed at 41-0 to the Rathdrum side and a very happy group departed for the six-hour journey home.

The women would firstly like to thank Casey's Centra Rathdrum for sponsoring food for the trip to Derry, it was hugely appreciated.

The women would also like to thank those supporters and in particular their loyal photographer Noel McMullen who travelled to Derry with them.

The women now face either Thurles or Tralee in the AIL Plate semi-final.

Next up however is the last league game of the year against Mullingar next Sunday afternoon in Mullingar.

Squad: Linda Dempsey, Hannah Fennell, Lindsay Madge, Nikki Fennell, Aine Geoghegan, Noelle Ward, Kellie Fennell, Ann-Marie Burke, Lisa Cahill, Mo Dowling (C), Heather Cullen, Sammy McCoy, Sue Brady, Caitlin Olohan, Orla Redmond, Vickie Doyle, Aoife Byrne, Laura Kavanagh, Neasa Clissman, Nicola Souster, Trish Byrne.

Bray People