Wednesday 21 February 2018

Joy for Railway women after they claim Division Two title

Rugby Union Women's firsts celebrate after winning the All-Ireland League Division Two title
Rugby Union Women's firsts celebrate after winning the All-Ireland League Division Two title

The Railway Union Women's firsts claimed the All-Ireland League Division Two title in style in Naas on Saturday, running out 51-17 winners against Ulster champions Cooke.

It caps a remarkable rise for Railway, who will now play in Division One next season after just two seasons of playing.

Railway started strongly and raced into a 17-0 lead with two tries from Julie McGrath and one from Lava Leitula after 15 minutes. A sin-binning didn't help the Railway cause and Cooke scored two tries of their own, either side of a Nicole Fowley try, to leave the half-time score at 22-12.

Cooke came out in the second half with all guns blazing and put immense pressure on the Railway line. A second sin-binning left Railway down to 14 women again and Cook took advantage, scoring in the corner to make it 22-17.

Railway refocused and increased the pace of the game to score five further tries from Kim Flood, Emma Murphy, Claire Ryan and two from Fowley, which gave the scoreline a flattering look that did not reflect the contest or the efforts of a tough and talented Cooke side.

Railway captain Aoife Maher paid tribute to the support on the day.

"It was big day for us and we were very nervous beforehand but our support on the sideline was fantastic. I'm consistently amazed with the support we get from the club, it really is an integrated club and today felt like a real club day.

"I'd also like to thank our head of player welfare Professor John Ryan and Ian Marshall, who were match-day doctor and physio for us today, as well as their work all season and also that of Redmond O'Mahony. Our manager Mick O Gruigain has been a huge addition too.

"Our coaches Mere and JC (John Cronin) have been excellent and are the best coaches I've come across at any level. They push us, drive us and have us aspire to play a good brand of rugby. Finally, my team-mates have been a committed and hard-working bunch all season.

"We played 39 players in this league campaign, which shows the importance of our squad, and this is a victory for all of our players, not just those who were lucky enough to play in the final. We've been going since July, so we'll take a few weeks off now."

Irish Independent Supplement

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