SKIBBEREEN RFC Women are through to the Munster Divisional Cup final after an impressive 15-0 semi-final win against Shannon-LIT in Coonagh, Shannon, last Sunday.
The Divisional Cup is essentially a Munster Junior Cup comprising teams from Division 1 and 2 of the women’s leagues.
This was a highly-anticipated game as it was a rematch of the Munster Senior Cup clash between the two sides late last year which saw Shannon edge the young Skibb team.
The West Cork side had the dream start. Receiving the kick off from Shannon deep in their own half, Skibbereen secured the ball and controlled the game quite well. Within a few plays, the Skibb women found themselves in the opposition’s 22, and they looked threatening. Young Kate O'Sullivan at nine controlled the game well, found some space close to the ruck which saw her use some nice footwork and strong carrying ability to beat a few defenders to the line, touching down for the opening score. Kicking into a strong crosswind, Emma Connolly was slightly short with the conversion, as Skibb took an early 5-0 lead.
After some physical back and forth between both teams after the kick off, Skibb found themselves with a penalty outside the Shannon 22. Emma Connolly stepped up to smash through the uprights and stretch their lead to 8-0.
‘Shannon were a big, strong and physical team and going into the game an area we weren’t as confident in were scrum and lineout, more so the scrum as we have a few injured and missing front rows,’ Skibb coach Sana Govender said.
‘Despite the experience and size difference, Sharon Stoutt was a nuisance at the Shannon lineout and breakdown, disrupting their ball on more than a few occasions. Aisling O’Connell, Claire Barrett and Alex O’Sullivan put in a massive shift at scrum time to lock out any shove from the Shannon women which really helped to neutralise any attacking threat on that end.’
Skibbereen led 8-0 at the break and the lead swelled even more early in the second half. After a Skibb lineout was lost on Shannon’s 22, Averyl Condell managed to recover the ball in the centre of the pitch through a lovely read which led to an interception and she touched down for Skibb’s second try of the day right under the posts. Emma Connolly slotted the conversion making it 15-0 to Skibb. That try epitomised the game played by Skibb all game, a huge pressure defence which forced Shannon to panic and force things causing mistakes which Skibb capitalised on.
From that point on, and tired from their exertions, Skibb found themselves defending more and more. Shannon rolled on sub after sub with Skibb only having three subs to call on due to injuries. To make it worse, a ten-minute window saw Skibb down to 14 players as a culmination of team fouls led to a yellow. Even with those odds, the clinical and aggressive Skibb defence kept Shannon scoreless, Michelle O’Driscoll at 10 controlled the game with composure.
Even with the backs scoring all the Skibbereen points and making some key defensive reads, the kudos have to go to the pack who outplayed themselves. They were quick off the mark, strong and evasive in the carries and absolutely powerful on defence.
Next up is the Munster Cup final against the winner of the clash between Kerry and Tipperary Women.