Naas RFC

Founded 1922

Co. Kildare

Match report - Naas v Tullamore - Womes's Rugby Paul Flood Cup - 10th March 2024

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Women’s Rugby

Paul Flood Cup

Naas 29 Tullamore 20

Sunday 10th March 

Match Report: David McKeown

Photos: Michael Linehan

Naas women pulled off a stunning upset in the first round Paul Flood Leinster Cup fixture at Forenaughts on Sunday, against a strong Tullamore team from the division above. This was the perfect response to the bizarre promotion playoff loss to a Railway Union side packed with All Ireland League players two weeks ago. The Kildare women proved their worth as a potential Leinster Division 1 side, with their most assured performance of the season in front of a lively crowd.

Tullamore started very strongly through their powerful forwards, and eventually Connacht centre Shannon Tuohy crashed over from short range to give the visitors a deserved lead after 6 minutes. Naas never lost their composure, with full-back Jane Fallon calmly cleaning up a long kick from Tullamore, allowing the efficient Naas backs to get the ball to Cliodhna O’Connor, who ran in from 30 yards to score under the posts. The ever-reliable Amy McGuire made no mistake with the conversion, giving Naas 7 points to 5 lead after 10 minutes.

3 minutes later, the excellent Anna McGrath and Ciara Mckeown combined to make valuable yards up the right wing, but the Tullamore defence proved impenetrable. On the 20-minute mark, Tullamore pounded the Naas line with their big forwards, and despite making tackle after tackle, Tuohy was again able to force her way over for Tullamore’s second score of the day. The game then settled into a phase where both teams cancelled each other out with barely a missed tackle on either side. Tullamore finally made their strength tell with a third try after 29 minutes.

Naas were able to hit back 5 minutes later after two quick tap penalties pushed Tullamore back onto their own 22. The Offaly women were unable to deal with the pace of Naas play, and three simple passes across the back line got the ball to O’Connor who beat her opposite number for her second try of the day. McGuire again added the extra points, making the score 12 points to 15 at half-time.

10 minutes into the second half, the pace of Naas’ play and decision-making proved critical, as another quickly taken penalty led to a try for Fallon. The young Naas pack now started to dominate their tiring opposition with barnstorming runs from Aoibheann O’Sullivan, Captain Bev Mahon and 19-year-old Emma Tully. The Naas coaching team were able to bring on quality subs in forwards Katie Halpin and Aisling Mahon, as well as utility back Emily Mckeown. This injection of pace, and increasingly dominant forward play from Alix Benn, Lauren Bergin and Ellen Murray stretched the Tullamore defence to breaking point. Ais Mahon pushed the opposition defence back 5 yards with a dominant charge, Murray cleared the ruck with ruthless efficiency, allowing scrum half Mckeown to move the ball quickly to her backline. Emily Mckeown then finished the best team try of the day with a blistering run left, then right.

With the score now 26 points to 15, the home crowd started to sense a win was on the cards, but Tullamore hit straight back with a very powerful surge from their forwards. With 16 minutes left to play, Naas led 26 points to 20. The utter dominance of the Naas scrum allowed number 8 Mahon to explode down the right in a pre-planned move. A perfectly timed pass allowed Mckeown to fix the Tullamore winger, but unfortunately the pass to winger McGrath didn’t quite hit the target.

On 75 minutes, Naas again took two quick penalties to force Tullamore back, and the second penalty led to a yellow card for persistent infringement for Tullamore. Captain Mahon pointed to the posts and McGuire, who had been practicing kicks for 90 minutes before kick-off, calmly slotted the kick to give Naas a crucial 9-point cushion.

Predictably, the quality Tullamore team forced Naas back with drive after drive from their forwards. Naas managed to turn the ball over, but then knocked the ball on, 10 metres out from their line.

The Naas pack then gave the home crowd something to cheer with a huge shove in the scrum, driving straight over the ball, winning a scrum penalty which McGuire kicked long into touch.

With two minutes left, the Naas women calmly managed the remaining time, until a knock-on by Tullamore, after a crunching tackle by Fallon, allowed referee Cregan to blow for full time.

The Naas women can be rightly proud of this performance against a Division 1 team. Next up is the round 2 cup fixture against Barnhall on the 25th of March.

Jane Fallon, Anna McGrath,Aoife Furlong, Sheena Hubbard, Cliodhna O'Connor, Amy McGuire, Ciara Mckeown,Emma Tully, Ellen Murray, Aoibheann O'Sullivan, Beverley Mahon ©, Lauren Bergin, Cleo Hubbard, Alix Doyle, Jessica Weld, Malgorzata Korpas, Emma Kelly, Emily Mckeown, Rachel Naughton, Katie Halpin, Caitríona Sheridan, Aisling Mahon, Natasha Moroney, Ciara Finn

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