Portlaoise U-18 Girls became champions in style at Togher when they met Railway Union in this Leinster League Division One decider.
From the outset Portlaoise stamped their authority on the game with a trademark fast run and strong hand-off try from Eimear Corri and conversion from Anna O’Neill. Union knew they were in for a tough game but no-one could have predicted the tempo and pace of the Portlaoise onslaught.
Forwards and backs adopted an expansive running style that was a pleasure to watch. After an impressive drive by Abigail and Rebecca Mullen, Niamh Riordan put Captain Róisín McWey through for a try in the corner. It wasn’t long before Mairéad Keogh linked with Eimear Lynam and Tara Buggie, who outpaced the defence and off-loaded to allow Eimear Corri to go in under the posts. Anna O’Neill obliged with a conversion.
At the previous encounter in Sandymount, Railway almost turned the tables. This time however, Portlaoise were leaving nothing to chance. Eimear Lynam initiated a move by going to ground with Mairéad Keogh retrieving and passing out to Niamh Riardan and then to Rebecca Mullen. Eimear Lynam was quickly up off the ground and was on hand again to receive the pass and cross the line for a try. Anna O’Neill converted.
The second half proved to be a celebration of open rugby. Aoife Murphy, Laura Scanlan, Mairéad Keogh, Áine Camphuijsen, Anna O’Neill and Tara Buggie, Eimear Corri, Lauren Roberts excelled in the back line. The forwards Abigail Mullen, Eimear Lynam, Niamh Riardan, Emma Hooban, Rebecca Mullen, Róisín McWey, Emma Startin rucked ran and passed with the pace of Sevens’ players.
Aoife Murphy and Laura Scanlan come close on a number of occasions but it fell to Tara Buggie, Áine Camphuijsen, and Mairéad Keogh to score their first tries at U-18 level while stalwart Emma Hooban ran in a super try. Emma Startin notched up her first points at U-18 through a cool conversion while Aoife Murphy rounded off Portlaoise’s scoring with a conversion.
Railway Union scored a brilliant late try through Kate Hegarty and Finn Burke converted in the closing moments of the game.
While this was a fantastic team effort, the open style seemed to really suit Eimear Lynam and allowed her to display the full range of her rugby skills. Eimear was at the heart of every play and was nominated as the Referee’s Girl of the Game.