Portlaoise U-18 Girls travelled to Greystones RFC in Mill Road, Wicklow to take part in the Greystones Rugby Sevens Festival.
This was the first time that girls were allowed enter the tournament and Portlaoise were buoyed by their runner-up performance in Athlone a fortnight previously.
The ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ consisted of captain Aoife Murphy, Aoife McNeill, Róisín McWey, Rebecca Mullen, Abigail Mullen, Áine Camphuijsen, Eimear Corri, Louise Scully, Robyn Mullen, Orlaith Phelan, Emma Hooban and Anna O’Neill. The players were fully fit after mid-week practice.
While this year is Portlaoise’s first venture into sevens, the teams they faced from Railway Union, Greystones, Blackrock and Wicklow have built up a reputation in the game.
Blackrock and Greystones combined as Rock Stones and the Seven Deadly Sins met them in the first round.
From the start it was clear that Blackrock tactics were in play and they immediately punished Portlaoise with a classic display of text-book looping and evasion that sliced through the defence to score a try in the corner.
Portlaoise regained their composure and made the breakthrough with some deft handling by Anna O’Neill and Orlaith Phelan allowing Eimear Corri to step and run in a try under the posts. Emma Hooban’s conversion put Portlaoise ahead at half time.
Coach Aoife Tyrell’s stamp was further evidence as Rock Stones dominated after the break with flashes of inspired play that led to another try in the corner. Portlaoise dug deep and began to play their own brand of stylish sevens with combinations from Rebecca Mullen leading the resurgence with Abigail Mullen, Louise Scully Aoife Murphy. They were rewarded with a try from Corri, who was put through by Robyn Mullen and Orlaith Phelan. Emma Hooban converted to get the Sins out of jail with a 14-10 win.
Portlaoise now faced Railway Union who have spearheaded the growth of Girls sevens. The presence of Aoife McNeill and Áine Camphuijsen made a difference with Abigail Mullen supplying speed and strength.
This was a classic encounter of equally matched sides where defences dominated. Indeed it looked like it could end scoreless until Corri broke the stalemate with a try in the corner. Union’s defence was such that it was virtually impossible to score the conversion. The remainder of the game was played at a hectic pace but neither side could add to the score-line and it finished 5-0.
Portlaoise met Wicklow Warriors in round six in what should have been their toughest match. It was a nightmare start for Portlaoise with Wicklow running in a try to the left of the posts. The attempt at conversion failed and Portlaoise set about recovering the situation. Soon Corri was in for a try and Hooban’s cool conversion not only put Portlaoise ahead but settled the side.
Portlaoise grew in prowess as the game continued and Anna O’Neill, Abigail Mullen, Áine Camphuijsen, Aoife McNeill, Louise Scully and Robyn Mullen played with style and purpose to set up scoring opportunities.
Tries from Róisín McWey, Orlaith Phelan, Aoife Murphy and Eimear Corri were clinically converted by Emma Hooban to produce a final score of 35-5.
Portlaoise Seven Deadly Sins and Wicklow Warriors were now set to battle it out in the final. The expected backlash never came and Portlaoise’s practice and fitness levels won out. Portlaoise pout on an exhibition performance with Aoife Murphy scoring a try and Louise Scully and Eimear Corri running in two tries each. Emma Hooban slotted five conversions to yield a final score of 35-0
Portlaoise claimed the G7 Girls Champions Title and picked up some lovely silverware. Eimear Corri was the Girls Tournament top try scorer with seven tries while Emma Hooban was the Girls Tournament top kicker with 12 conversions.
Portlaoise are recruiting girls for this season. Why not give it a try.