Wicklow RFC women’s teams continue on their upward trajectory!
J1s secure back-to-back promotions
Leinster League Division 2 rugby awaits the superb Wicklow RFC J1 women’s team next season after they toppled Portlaoise in the play-off final at the Oval in Arklow last Sunday afternoon. Having secured promotion from Division 4 last year in their first year of existence, the Ashtown Lane side have followed that up with another step up the Leinster League ladder following a fantastic season that seen them finish second in Division 3 with the final hurdle of the Division 2 side in the play-off standing in their way. The Wicklow J1s play an expansive style of rugby but were curtailed by the narrow confines of Arklow’s back pitch and heavy rain which turned the pitch into a mud bath. It was a day for up-the-jumper rugby with no room to spread the ball. The game started with heavy carries by both sides as they battled hard to cope with the conditions. With set pieces even, and strong defence on both sides, the game was in deadlock for a long period. Scrum-half Sophie Richardson coped well with the conditions, feeding runners trucking it up. Saoirse O’Reilly eventually found a little space out wide to race under the posts for the opening score. Saoirse converted her own try to make it 7-0. The game continued in the same hard carrying fashion. Wicklow forwards put in tackle after tackle with the front rows Kathy Byrne, Maya McDevitt, Leah Fisher and captain Niamh O’Leary prominent. The game was evenly matched right up to half time when Portlaoise went through the phases to eventually break the Wicklow defence and score under the posts on the stroke of half-time with the scoreboard reading 7-7. Wicklow managed the second half much better and were the dominant side for much of the time. Nicole Humby managed the game really well with a combination of tactical kicking, powerful running and huge defensive hits. Centres Katherine Ward and Emma Curran started to make inroads with strong carries, helping out the industrious backrow. As always, Amy O’Neill led the tackle count from eight. Toni Quinn, Jess Reynolds and Paula Keating did really well in the lineout and worked strongly with Leah Murphy, Sue Brady, Laura Newsome and Ellen Griffin around the pitch. Jen Madden put in the big hits on the wing to stop a couple of Portlaoise moves. A special mention to Aoife Nixon and Jess Griffey who played up from double winning Under-18s squad and fitted in seamlessly. They both added huge energy to the team when they came on with Jess unlucky not to score. With Wicklow applying all the pressure, Portlaoise eventually cracked, and centre Emma Curran crashed over near the posts for the all-important second score. The try was converted by Saoirse once again. Portlaoise never stopped battling, but it was to be Wicklow who crossed the try line one more time with wing Aoife Dunne finishing a well worked backs move to slide over in the corner and make the final score Wicklow 19, Portlaoise 7. This team has put in the hard yards over a long season and has achieved their season goal of back-to-back promotions. They are still in the Cup, playing Kilkenny RFC in Kilkenny next Sunday in the quarter-final. Next season it will be Division 2 rugby for the J1 girls. Bring it on! Team: Kathy Byrne, Maya McDevitt, Niamh O’Leary, Leah Murphy, Toni Quinn, Sue Brady, Jessica Reynolds, Amy O’Neill, Sophie Richardson, Nicole Humby, Aoife Dunne, Katherine Ward, Emma Curran, Jennifer Madden, Saoirse O’Reilly, Laura Newsome, Leah Fisher, Aoife Nixon, Jessica Griffey, Ellen Griffin, Paula Keating, Holly McSorley.