Naas RFC

Founded 1922

Co. Kildare

Match report - Naas v Barnhall - Womes's Rugby Paul Flood Cup - 24th March 2024

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Women’s Rugby

Paul Flood Cup

Barnhall 39 Naas 10

Match Report: David McKeown
Photos: Martin Rowe

The competitive season ended for Naas women with a 39 to 10 defeat against a very impressive Barnhall team in the second round of the Paul Flood Cup. Naas were always underdogs against the All-Ireland Junior Cup champions, but the Naas women started brightly, regaining possession from the kick-off, and threatening the line before superb Barnhall defence eventually won the turnover.

Two minutes later, Naas came close again when Cliodhna O’Connor made a characteristic 40 metre break, only to get caught 10 metres out.

Barnhall calmly found their way back into the game and scored the first of their 7 tries after 20 minutes. The physical edge of the Division 1 team started to show against the Naas women, who were slightly outpaced and outmuscled in each aspect of the game. Simple hands across the backline found O’Connor facing three Barnhall attackers, leading to an inevitable try under the posts. The Naas defence was increasingly desperate at this point, led by centre Sheena Hubbard, who then received a yellow card after several team infringements. The lively Barnhall scrum half took a quick tap and ran through the retreating Naas defenders, giving the home side a 19-nil lead. From the restart, the resilient Naas women then forced their way back to the Barnhall line with a series of quickly taken penalties, ultimately winning a penalty which Amy McGuire slotted over to make the half-time score 19-3.

Naas started the second half as they finished the first, with another 40-metre burst by O’Connor. Once again, fantastic Barnhall defence kept Naas out, and then Barnhall won a simple turnover to score a try of their own. On the 50-minute mark, a tiring Naas defence missed some simple tackles to allow Barnhall to go into an unassailable 24 points to 3 lead, and then another simple score 5 minutes later. With the score 29 3 to the home side, Naas never gave up and maintained pressure on the Barnhall line for 10 minutes until prop Katie Halpin forced her way over for the Naas women’s only try of the day.

Naas nearly scored again after a weaving run by Aoife Furlong brought them to the 5-metre line, but once again the confident Barnhall defence held firm. Barnhall then exerted some pressure of their own until Naas were unable to clear their line cleanly, and the clearance kick was collected by the Barnhall winger who raced in for the final score of the day.

The game finished 39 10, but the Naas women can be proud of their performance against the best non-AIL side in the country. The experience and slight physical edge of the Barnhall team was telling on the day, but with a win over Tullamore and a very respectable performance against Barnhall, Naas have proved that they can compete against Division 1 teams. This weekend actually marks the fifth anniversary of Naas’ winning the Division 4 title in their first season of women’s rugby. The progression through the leagues, winning Division 3 and coming second in Division 2 this season is a testament to the work of all the players and coaches in the girls’ and women’s section of the club. 9 of the starting 15 against Barnhall played with Naas Girls’ teams before graduating to the women’s team, most notably Emma Tully, who has come all the way through from minis to adult. Aside from a friendly match and a well-deserved celebration of a great season, the Naas women can now look forward to a few months off before they resume their league campaign next season.

Emma Tully, Ellen Murray, Katie Halpin, Alix Benn, Lauren Bergin, Cleo Hubbard, Asta Rowe, Jane Fallon, Ciara Mckeown, Amy McGuire, Cliodhna O'Connor, Sheena Hubbard, Ali Miley, Aoife Furlong, Emily Mckeown, Emma Lackey, Abbie Cleary, Aisling Mahon, Anna McGrath, Jamie Garland, Jessica Weld, Shauna Kinsella

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