VIVIENNE O’Donovan scored a hat-trick of tries as Skibbereen RFC U18 ladies’ team created history last Saturday when winning the club’s first-ever ladies’ trophy.
The Skibb girls turned on the style with a powerful second-half performance in the U18 Munster Plate final at Cresent Comprehensive College in Limerick, and Newport had no answer.
The Tipperary side were quicker out of the blocks and scored the game’s opening try – but this setback didn’t affect Skibb who soon started to put their stamp on the game.
With the forwards making inroads against the Newport pack, Skibb’s speedy backs were starting to create havoc for the Newport defence, and it was no surprise when outhalf Vivienne O’Donovan scored under the posts after great work from Nicole O’Brien and Katelyn Hurley. Brianna O’Shea added the conversion to give Skibbereen a half-time lead, 7-5.
While the first half was a tense affair, Skibb dominated the second half and scored some superb tries. First to cross the whitewash was Eimear Minihane who brilliantly beat two defenders after great interplay between forwards and backs alike.
Soon after Vivienne O’Donovan scored her second try, sprinting 50 metres up the right wing before touching down.
Newport tried their best to get back into the game but despite being camped on the Skibb line, some great defence led by Aoife Quinn, Niamh Thornton, Anna Kavanagh, Eimear Minihane and captain Chloe Shanahan kept the Skibbereen line intact.
When Skibbereen eventually lifted the siege, Vivienne O’Donovan got on the end of her own clearance kick and sprinted the length of the pitch to complete her hat-trick and end the game as a contest.
Skibbereen scored two further tries, the first a great burst from Siadbh Redmond and the final one finished off by Emily Byrne after a great break by Abbie Salter-Townshend.
This was a real team effort by all 16 girls involved. The four front row players of Niamh Thornton, Claire Cullinane, Katelyn Hurley and Caitlin Cronin were all strong in the setpieces with Niamh and Katelyn making some great bursts in the loose.
Nicole O’Brien and Aoife Barrett did great work in the tight and the back row of Anna Kavanagh, Eimear Minihane and Chloe Shanahan were immense throughout the whole hour.
At scrum half Abbie Salter-Townshend always took the right option and linked the forwards and backs very well. Outhalf Vivienne O’Donovan showed how much Skibbereen had missed her incredible pace in the first half of the season with her hat-trick while the centre pairing of Brianna O’Shea and Aoife Quinn is a perfect match. Brianna is a real livewire with her quick feet while Aoife brought off tackle after tackle as she drove the Newport attackers back.
The back three of Siadbh Redmond, Emily Byrne and Alicia O’Sullivan all were a handful in attack and defended excellently.
The team are a credit to their two young coaches, Sana Govender and Cillian Newman, who saw all their hard work from throughout the year rewarded in the best possible way.
The Skibbereen team included Alicia O’Sullivan, Emily Byrne, Aoife Quinn, Brianna O’Shea, Siadbh Redmond, Vivienne O’Donovan, Abbie Salter-Townshend, Niamh Thornton, Katelyn Hurley, Claire Cullinane, Caitlin Cronin, Nicole O’Brien, Aoife Barrett, Anna Kavanagh, Eimear Minihane and Chloe Shanahan (captain).