Galwegians’ women won their first All-Ireland Cup at Templeville Road on Saturday, overcoming Highfield 13-7 in a closely-fought final.
Playing against the wind in the first half, Galwegians took an early lead with a penalty from outhalf Clare Raftery, but Highfield replied before the break with a converted try when Donna Hughes crashed over from a line-out and Ireland’s Geraldine Rea added the extras for a 7-23 lead.
In a game in which both defences were on top, the turning point came with 15 minutes left remaining after Highfield centre Rea was sin-binned for a high tackle near her own 22.
Spurning a kick at goal, Wegians kept the ball in hand and, from an overlap, hooker Tosh Haywood seized the opportunity to dive over for the crucial try. Raftery added the conversion to put the Blues 10-7 in front.
The Cork women laid siege on the Galwegians try line, but some resolute Blues’ defence and discipline kept them at bay. When Raftery forced a turnover from a superb tackle, Lisa McDonagh fed former Ireland international Nuala Ni Chadhain who broke upfield and kicked deep into opposition territory to relieve the pressure. The icing on the cake was produced by Raftery when she struck a penalty with the last kick of the game to seal a superb season for the Galwegian women.
GALWEGIANS: B McPhilbin; S Healy, L McDonagh, N Ni Chadhain, M Fitzgibbon; C Raftery, S Ni Chadhain; R O'Reilly, T Haywood, S Brennan, H Cary, K McDonagh, M Murray, C Staunton, E O'Dowd (capt ). Replacements, L Feely for Murray (25 ), Anne O'Callaghan for Healy (60 ).