Sunday 25 February 2018

Women overjoyed with Munster win in opener

The Connacht team gather in a huddle after their first ever interpro victory over Munster. Photo: ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry
The Connacht team gather in a huddle after their first ever interpro victory over Munster. Photo: ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Connacht had the perfect start to the women's interprovincial series with an historic 19-15 win over neighbours Munster in the Sportsground on Saturday.

From kick-off, it seemed one-way traffic in the hosts's favour, albeit peppered with frustration and handling errors.

Munster scored first, 13 minutes in through livewire winger Laura O'Mahoney (converted from 12m right of the upright by Edel Murphy) after a protracted period of possession. Niamh Kavanagh, Chloe Pearse and Ciara Griffin were the chief carriers.

Murphy extended the lead with a 29-metre penalty nine minutes before the break.

Connacht scrum-half Shannen Lane's defensive efforts were the measure of any loose forward on the pitch, the pint-sized powerhouse instrumental in snuffing out two Munster scores in the first half.

Munster's conviction in and around the fringes and 9-10 channel began causing major headaches for Connacht who scrambled well, but began to fracture and fray.

Given the wealth of territory Munster had in the second quarter, they would be disappointed with only 10 points at the break with Connacht yet to score.

The Connacht team that returned after half-time employed the same tactics, the same enthusiasm, and (bar Mary Healy for Lane) the same personnel.

From the off, everything stuck. Flankers Grainne Egan and Edel McMahon assumed the defensive cover role vacated by the tenacious Lane, and stand-in out-half Hilary Griffin put in an excellent performance.

Tactical kicking was sound and defence admirable, but Griffin's greatest virtue was finding the right bodies off both hands at pace.

McMahon's tap penalty two metres out for Connacht's first try gave the crowd something to shout about.

Ali Miller, Feely and the ever-present O'Connor combined for Connacht's second on 67 minutes in the left-hand corner.

After that lock Amelie Roux's bullocking twist from two metres out notched the hosts' third.

So, it was to be Connacht's day as a historic win was recorded.

"This was their first rugby together, ever," said coach Jarlath Naughton.

"We struggled for 30 minutes, smashed it for 50. That's a pretty good shift for a first day out. It just took 30 minutes for the girls to get to know each other," Naughton added.

Irish Independent

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