Naas RFC

Founded 1922

Co. Kildare

Match Report - Mullingar V Naas - Leinster Division 2 - Sun 15th Jan 2023

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Mullingar Women 47 Naas 14 – Leinster League Division 2 – Sunday the 15th January 2023

Naas Women suffered a heavy, but strangely encouraging, defeat in their Leinster League Division 2 match in Mullingar on Sunday 15th January. 4 unanswered tries by the home side in the second half saw off a spirited challenge from the Naas women, who will take great heart from their performance. The game was played at high speed on the excellent 4G pitch in Mullingar, which suited the young home side better. Mullingar got off to a blistering start as they ran a score in from their own 22 with just two minutes on the clock. The Naas team then roused themselves to compete fiercely for everything for the next five minutes, until an interception by the Mullingar centre took the home side well into the Naas half. Scrum half Mckeown made a great cover tackle to bundle the speedy Mullingar winger into touch. Naas then showed some good patience to work their way into the Mullingar 22. Great interplay between forwards and backs gave Naas lineout five yards out from the Mullingar try line. There then followed an exciting, if error-strewn, phase of play where Naas lost their lineout, the attempted kick by the Mullingar out half was charged down by Mckeown and Ali Miley pounced for the score. Captain Clare Finn added the conversion to make the score seven all with 20 minutes gone.

After the restart, the Naas pack showed their class, winning a scrum against the head, which was then followed by a superb clearance kick from Sheena Hubbard. After the lineout, Mullingar showed their superiority on the wings with a 50-metre break, stopped only by one of several try-saving tackles from the magnificent Zoe Dunbar.

Naas almost scored a few minutes later with a powerful, direct surge up field from Clane woman Molly Fitzpatrick, who probably had her best game in a Naas jersey. The Naas backs were able to work the ball out to the elusive Jamie Garland, who shot to the line, but was held up. However, a dropped ball in midfield right on the 22 allowed the powerful Mullingar centre to run the length of the field and score under the posts. An easy conversion made it 14 7 to Mullingar at half time.

After the break, Naas Head Coach Fionn Higgins brought the dynamic 18-year-old Katie Halpin into the game, and she immediately made a 40-yard break, but then got turned over in the tackle. This allowed Mullingar to charge up the pitch, only to be felled by another utterly dominant tackle from Zoe Dunbar. Naas then combined forwards and backs well to get over the Mullingar line, but again referee Ciaran Murphy called held up. Mullingar hammered the goal line drop out into the arms of Dunbar, who started a great phase of play for Naas, which eventually led to a try for ex-Leinster under 18 hooker Ellen Murray. The game was now tied at 14 all with eight minutes gone in the second half.

Unfortunately for the Naas women, Mullingar then scored three quick tries to finish the game as a contest, two of which were long-range efforts by the impressive centre Ciara Wynne. Naas appeared to tire on the fast pitch and Mullingar exploited the extra space brilliantly. The score was now 40 points to 14 with six minutes to go, until some very weary tacklers were not able to stop another Mullingar attack, and the game finished 47 points to 14.

Despite the scoreline, the Naas women can take great encouragement from their performance against a very young, quick Mullingar side. Mullingar are rightly top of the league, with Naas in fourth. Next up for the women is Portlaoise, with home and away fixtures back-to-back.

Naas: Zoe Dunbar, Caitríona Sheridan, Ali Miley, Jessica Weld, Jamie Garland, Sheena Hubbard, Ciara Mckeown, Clare Finn, Ellen Murray, Molly Fitzpatrick, Beverley Mahon, Abbie Cullen, Katie Halpin, Cleo Hubbard, Aisling Mahon, Aoibheann O’Sullivan, Malgorzata Korpas, Rachel Naughton, Asta Rowe, Ella Morris

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