Fresh from her Ireland debut last month, Dannah O’Brien kicked Old Belvedere to a 14-5 victory over UL Bohemians in their Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division Opener.
The 18-year-old from Carlow was sprung from the bench for her Belvedere debut and landed three second half penalties to add to flanker Lesley Ring’s earlier try.
Blindside Clodagh O’Halloran forced her way over for UL’s only score. Bohs will hope to bounce back when hosting reigning champions Railway Union next Saturday.
Fiona Hayes’ Ballincollig side had a number of new combinations in their back-line, and it was a real baptism of fire for them as ‘Wegians, who reached the Conference final last spring, accumulated 41 unanswered points before half-time.
It was a powerful start for the Blue Belles under new head coach Eoghan Maher, as lively winger Laoise McGonagle finished with four tries and there were braces from Sarah O’Connell and Niamh O’Grady.
Former Ireland international Mairéad Coynecut through for ‘Wegians’ twelfth and final try, their handsome haul enhanced by seven conversions from out-half Nicole Fowley on her first day as captain.
Meanwhile, Wicklow gave Blackrock College quite a battle before last season’s beaten finalists pulled away to triumph 45-17 at Ashtown Lane.
Young full-back Ella Roberts broke past three defenders for a superb first half try, giving Wicklow a 10-5 lead before they trailed by just two points at the break.
Winger Saoirse O’Reilly also touched down for Jason Moreton’s charges, who incredibly had five sets of sisters in their matchday squad – the Roberts, Schmidts, Molloys, Griffeys, and Stones.
However, Blackrock showed their class – boosted by a strong performance from their bench – as a penalty try and closing efforts from replacement Méabh Deely and Anna Doyle added a gloss to the final scoreline.
Half-backs Maeve Liston and Lisa Mullen both touched down for ‘Rock during the opening 40 minutes, the latter’s score coming from a rip in the tackle from Ulster captain Beth Cregan, on her debut for the Dubliners.
Ali Coleman and skipper Michelle Claffey, who followed up on Mairéad Holohan’s break, secured Blackrock’s bonus point, and despite a fight-back from Wicklow to make it 24-17, ‘Rock had more in the tank.
A well-driven maul was illegally collapsed for a penalty try, Roisin Crowe set the wheels in motion for Deely, another recent new cap for Ireland in Japan, to race clear, and some sharp handling saw winger Doyle round off the scoring.
OLD BELVEDERE 14 UL BOHEMIANS 5, Ollie Campbell Park
Scorers: Old Belvedere: Try: Lesley Ring; Pens: Dannah O’Brien 3
UL Bohemians: Try: Clodagh O’Halloran
HT: Old Belvedere 5 UL Bohemians 0
OLD BELVEDERE: Fiona Tuite; Elise O’Byrne-White, Aoife Dalton, Emma Kelly, Clare Gorman; Aine Donnelly, Jemma Farrell; Melissa Hayden, Rachel Murphy, Katie Layde, Clodagh Dunne, Elaine Anthony, Niamh O’Dowd, Lesley Ring, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird.
Replacements: Jennie Finlay, Jan Carroll, Emma Tilly, Dannah O’Brien, Katelyn Faust, Eadaoin Murtagh.
UL BOHEMIANS: Aoife Corey; Laura O’Mahony, Alana McInerney, Stephanie Nunan, Aoibhe O’Flynn; Rachel Allen, Muirne Wall; Geena Behan, Kate Sheehan, Fiona Reidy, Rebecca Reilly, Claire Bennett, Clodagh O’Halloran, Ciara Farrell, Chloe Pearse (capt).
Replacements: Ciara O’Dwyer, Nicola Sweeney, Eilis Cahill, Sarah Garrett, Lily Brady, Abbie Salter-Townshend, Aoibhinn O’Loughlin.
GALWEGIANS 74 BALLINCOLLIG 0, Crowley Park
Scorers: Galwegians: Tries: Ines Delgado, Laoise McGonagle 4, Sarah O’Connell 2, Emily Gavin, Niamh O’Grady 2, Ursula Sammon, Mairéad Coyne; Cons: Nicole Fowley 7
HT: Galwegians 41 Ballincollig 0
GALWEGIANS: Mairéad Coyne; Sarah O’Connell, Ines Delgado, Ursula Sammon, Laoise McGonagle; Nicole Fowley (capt), Olivia Haverty; Jessica Loftus, Elizabeth McNicholas, Ellen Connolly, Niamh O’Grady, Dearbhla Canty, Emily Gavin, Nolwenn Dubois, Lisa-Marie Murphy.
Replacements: Ruby Lynch, Kiara Irwin, Lea Turner, Jordan Hopkins, Mary Healy, Orla Dixon, Tanya Farrell.
BALLINCOLLIG: Sinead O’Reilly; Heather Kennedy, Alison Kelly, Meaghan Kenny, Laurileigh Baker; Kelly Griffin, Michelle Stafford; Róisín Ormond, Clodagh Walsh (capt), Aoife Flynn, Caoilainn Healy, Eimear Perryman, Katelyn Fleming, Kira Fitzgerald, Denise Redmond.
Replacements: Tiare Siguenza, Orla Rea, Olivia Hay Mulvihill, Sarah O’Donovan, Róisín Long.
WICKLOW 17 BLACKROCK COLLEGE 45, Ashtown Lane
Scorers: Wicklow: Tries: Ella Roberts, Saoirse O’Reilly; Cons: Beth Roberts 2; Pen: Beth Roberts
Blackrock College: Tries: Maeve Liston, Lisa Mullen, Ali Coleman, Michelle Claffey, Penalty try, Méabh Deely, Anna Doyle; Cons: Lisa Mullen 4, Pen try con
HT: Wicklow 10 Blackrock College 12
WICKLOW: Ella Roberts; Meagan Parkinson, Aoibhin Stone, Sarah Gleeson, Suzanne Tyrrell; Beth Roberts, Roisin Stone; Linda Dempsey, Niamh Ni Dhroma (capt), Caoimhe Molloy, Rachel Griffey, Caitlin Griffey, Nicola Schmidt, Jessica Schmidt, Emma Curran.
Replacements: Kathy Byrne, Laura Newsome, Leah Murphy, Shauna Soady, Orla Molloy, Saoirse O’Reilly.
BLACKROCK COLLEGE: Ella Durkan; Roisin Crowe, Michelle Claffey (capt), Ciara Scanlan, Anna Doyle; Lisa Mullen, Maeve Liston; Shannon Heapes, Emma Hooban, Casey O’Brien, Eimear Corri, Anna Potterton, Mairead Holohan, Beth Cregan, Ali Coleman.
Replacements: Laura Feely, Ann-Marie Rooney, Niamh Tester, Roisin McWey, Méabh Deely, Natasja Behan, Hannah Hodges.