Sensational Skibbereen score ten tries in All-Ireland quarter-final victory

March 27th, 2023 12:00 PM

By Ger McCarthy

The Skibbereen team that defeated Westport at home in the All-Ireland Junior Cup quarter-final on Sunday. (Photo: Anne Minihane)

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Skibbereen 61

Westport 5


SKIBBEREEN delivered a marvellous performance to qualify for the Energia All-Ireland Women’s Junior Cup semi-finals at a rain-sodden Skibbereen on Sunday.

History was made before a scrum was set in this All-Ireland quarter-final.

The host club had the distinction of being the first-ever West Cork club to contest an All-Ireland Women’s Junior Cup tie. That accolade came hot on the heels of this Skibb team being crowned 2022 West Cork Sports Star Team of the Year the weekend before.

Skibbereen had little time to bask in the glow of that award however, as their focus turned towards Westport’s visit.

The Mayo team made the long trek to Skibb anxious to rebound from a 34-14 loss to Oughterard in their provincial league final, but Westport were unable to contain a hungry, vibrant and controlled Skibb display.

Skibbereen centre Eva O'Sullivan holds onto the ball during the big cup match against. (Photo: Anne Minihane)


The West Cork team were dominant from start to finish, something that pleased winning loose head prop, Aisling O’Connell.

‘This group of players are so supportive of each other,’ O’Connell told The Southern Star.

‘We all have each other’s backs. There is a real support network within the club. I only started playing rugby two years ago, having never played rugby before, only football.

‘I was accepted straight away, settled in and even brought in my sister, Mollie, who went and scored a try today!

‘I can’t actually believe that we have reached an All-Ireland Cup semi-final. We have had a few knocks this year after coming up a division. Today, we showed that we are capable of challenging for an All-Ireland.’

One of Skibbereen women’s rugby’s coaches Sana Govender was effusive in his praise of the winners’ efforts: ‘That was simply the best rugby these girls have ever produced.

‘The difference was the cohesiveness of their play. Today’s performance was what we have been working towards. To see it happen today was brilliant. It was a full 80-minute display and in a structured way.’

Conditions were awful with incessant rain resulting in a heavy pitch and turning Sunday’s quarter-final into a war of attrition. Handling errors were to be expected and so it proved as both Skibbereen and Westport repeatedly knocked-on whilst getting to grips with the elements.

An early burst from full-back Jasmine Kiely enabled the home team pin Westport back in their own 22. Dominating territory and possession, Skibb were unable to breach an organised Westport defence until the 12th minute.

Averyl Condell chased after her own grubber-kick and touched down in the corner. Despite the missed conversion, Skibb had a deserved 5-0 lead.

Emma Connolly slotted over a penalty in front of the posts to extend Skibb’s advantage to 8-0 before the floodgates opened.


Jasmine Connolly, Fiona Love and Kate O’Sullivan touched down in quick succession and Emma Connolly added one conversion to make it 25-0 just past the half hour. Aisling O’Connell’s yellow card offered Westport temporary respite shortly before the break.

But a one-sided contest’s pattern remained the same as Sharon Stoutt twice crossed the line to underline Skibb’s dominance. Another Kate O’Sullivan try added to Westport’s woes and an Emma Connolly conversion made it 42-0.

The visitors were rewarded for their increased efforts with a Claire Coghlan try but Skibb replacement Mollie O’Connell responded to make it 47-5. Late Caitlin Heffernan and Emma Connolly tries helped a dominant Skibbereen amass 61 points before the final whistle.

‘For the effort that they have put in and the execution, honesty of effort, these girls are deserving of where they are,’ Skibbereen coach Harvey Rael commented.

‘We could not ask more of them. Anything you ask of them as a group, they always give 100 percent.’

‘It is all about building the club and moving forward,’ Skibbereen Women’s rugby coach Cillian Newman added.

‘We had to bring in more players at the end of last year. You lose players, players move away. The girls we have brought in this year have been huge for the squad’s development.

‘Where we are, geographically, makes building a squad challenging but, hopefully, we will continue to do just that.’

A Skibbereen women’s rugby team containing five mothers, six players from three families and two sets of sisters are now just two steps from All-Ireland Cup glory. Next up is a semi-final away against Tullamore on April 2nd, with the Offaly side receiving a bye from UL Bohs 2nds in their quarter-final. The other semi-final will see Enniskillen play either Queen’s University or MU Barnhall.


Scorers - Skibbereen: Emma Connolly (1 try, 1 penalty, 4 conversions), Kate O’Sullivan, Sharon Stoutt (2 tries each), Averyl Condell, Jasmine Connolly, Fiona Love, Mollie O’Connell, Sinead O'Donovan (1 try each). Westport: Clare Coghlan (1 try).

Skibbereen: Jasmine Kiely; Fiona Love, Kate O’Sullivan, Eva O’Sullivan; Amy Kiely; Emma Connolly, Averyl Condell (captain); Sharon Stoutt, Cléa Michel, Katie Cullinane; Grace O’Regan, Áine Geoghan; Claire Barrett, Emma Beamish, Aisling O’Connell. Replacements: Katelyn Hurley, Nadia Collins, Eimear O’Rourke, Caitlin Heffernan, Mollie O’Connell, Sinead O’Donovan, Fionnuala O’Driscoll.

Westport: Katie Hogan; Gráinne Moran, Tara McNulty, Erika Pollington; Lena Heine; Aisling Browne, Erin Moore; Catriona Moran, Leanne Barnicle, Rita Coyne; Sarah Geraghty, Katharina Klein; Melina Malaquais, Gemma Gaughan, Claire Coghlan. Replacement: Rachel Büchs.

Referee: Adrian Butson.

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