Portlaoise Rugby Ladies’ Seventh Heaven
The first-ever all-women tournament – ‘7’s in the City’ took place over the Bank Holiday weekend in blistering conditions at Dubarry Park; home of Buccaneers RFC. Portlaoise’s Under-18 Girls; named “the 7 Deadly Sins”, took part in what was a hotly-contested tournament with many Provincial and International-capped players on display.
The first pool game had a very inexperienced Portlaoise outfit take on a team from Carrick-on- Suir with no fewer than 3 Irish squad players in their team. The first half was a close affair with Carrick leading by one try to nil. However in the second half the Portlaoise Girls started to get to grips with the fast nature of the game and began to spread the ball out. Some strong rucking from Róisín McWey and Rebecca Mullen allowed scrum half Mairéad Keogh to get her hands on the ball and release the elusive Anna O’Neill. Some quick interplay between Aoife McNeill and Lauren Roberts then released Tara Buggy to stride her way from her own half under the posts.
This however only inspired Carrick. Their Irish squad players started to dominate and within a matter of minutes they had scored three tries between them. With the score now 21-5 the Portlaoise girls never dropped their heads and some inspiring interplay between replacements Robyn Mullen, Emma Startin and Áine Camphuijsen released Anna O’Neill for what was an inspiring try to seal a final score of 21 – 10.
Portlaoise’s second pool game was a must-win game for the Laois ladies against a strong Railway Union side from Dublin that also had an Irish squad player in its ranks.
Learning from their mistakes from the first game this was a truly inspired performance from the girls from Portlaoise. Leading from the front, Captain Rebecca Mullen’s strong aggressive and intelligent running released Áine Camphuijsen whose quick hands allowed O’Neill to storm to the opponents 22. When tackled, O’Neill produced a great pass to Lauren Roberts who scored her first ever try under the posts.
With their tails up, all the girls quickened the pace. Their second try came soon after when Róisín McWey and Abigail Mullen dominated in the loose and provided ball to Camphuijsen who found another gear to score in the corner.
The second half continued much in the same vein. Strong running by Emma Startin led to a 15 metre maul. Deft hands by Keogh, McNeill, and Buggie released the ever present O’Neill who had the wisdom to pass back inside before being bundled into touch. This allowed Portlaoise’s inspirational captain Mullen to score in a tight angle. The final score was Portlaoise 15 – Railway Union 0.
Portlaoise progressed to the final against Carrick on Suir. With nothing to lose in this game Portlaoise knew what they had to do. Carrick pushed for the first try and were dominant in every facet of play. However some great try saving tackles by Roberts, O’Neill and the Mullen sisters kept them at bay. One of the players of the tournament, Tara Buggie interlinked with O’Neill who released to Buggie on the loop who was tackled just 5 metres from the try line. Lauren Roberts surged through to secure the ball and off-loaded to McWey to score the first try of the match at the stroke of half time. In the second half McNeill, Camphuijsen and Startin began to dominate. However the Carrick Irish squad players took control and scored a converted try in the corner, giving them the edge at 7-5. Injuries then took their toll on Portlaoise girls with Mullen and O’Neill being taken to hospital. With only two minutes left on the clock Carrick took full advantage to score a converted try under the posts. The final score was 14-5.
This was a tremendous display from the Portlaoise Girls who were missing some of their big names. Coach Mark Roberts intended this tournament to be a way of keeping the girls fit over the summer period but they have shown that we have tremendous talent within the county. The girls can’t wait until the next tournament in July.
Portlaoise Girls Rugby is always eager to recruit new girls from 14 – 18 years of age. If you are interested in playing or only want to keep fit then turn up for training on Monday nights at Portlaoise Leisure centre between
7.00pm – 8.00pm.