Rock Ladies started 2012 well and have come through some tough games against Leinster opposition in the Paul Flood (Leinster) Cup to reach the final by beating Garda on Sunday 19th February. Rock had an awesome first 20 mins and to onlookers the game looked to be in the bag at that point however so did the Rock team and Garda’s determination and never say die attitude saw them run Rock right to the end with the Rock girls showing fantastic defense on their own line in the last 10 mins to hold out for the 22-15 win.
Rock had a dream first twenty mins by stretching the Garda defense one way then the other to go over twice in the first 5 mins in the left hand corner. Louise Austin in fantastic form at the moment both on offense and defense scored the first try. From the ensuing kick off taken by new second row Lena Fitzsimons
Rock ladies interchanged well between forwards and then backs who showed some fantastic strong straight running lines and offloading making huge yards and soon Rock found themselves back in the Garda half. Again quick ball was the key and was spread from one side of the pitch to the other until Garda ran out of numbers and Katie Fitzhenry scored to the left of the posts. Conversion was successful by Michelle Claffey
Rock didn’t slow up and with Garda infringing experienced scrum half Tania Rosser
took the quick tap to sent the ball right, the quick cleanout from the hardworking Rock pack gave her quick ball and allowed Katie Norris
showing great support on the outside to go over in the left hand corner. Garda started to edge their way back into the game however and were awarded a penalty which was converted by their winger Chrissy Doyle. After an energetic first 20 mins the score was 17-3 to Rock.
Rock didn’t drop their heads and came back at Garda with some excellent defensive pressure forcing their opposition to kick for territory. Aoife Tyrell retrieved the ball and from the ruck Rosser, not known for her kicking, put up a perfectly weighted box kick to get Rock back into the opposition 22. Garda had possession but phenomenal hit by Louise Austin, that caused a groan from the crowd, stopped Garda dead in their tracks and they again resorted to kicking the ball back into Tyrells hands. Good support from her winger Bridget Doyle and hardworking flanker Mel Morey put Claffey in to score to the right of the posts. 22-3 to Rock.
However at this stage Rock took the foot off and allowed Garda both possession and territory. Garda centre went over from a pre-planned penalty move. The penalty was awarded after sustained pressure caused Rock to infringe 10 metres from their own line. 22-8 at half time.
Morey was yellow-carded just before half time and Rock went into the second half down to 14. Garda made the most of their extra person and again the Garda centre went over 5 mins into the 2nd half. The try was converted to make the score 22-15. Opposition out half Aine Ni Chathain, a former Rock player, was causing confusion in the Rock defensive line with her breaks blind and a tiring Rock side slid off tackles allowing Garda to get on the front foot. However Rocks resolute defense esepecially in the last 10 mins with some last gasp try saving tackles by all 15 girls on the pitch kept them in front and even though there were both scrums and lineouts on the Rock 5 metre line they managed to keep Garda out to secure the 22-15 victory. The final which was due to possibly have been played on the 26th Feb has now been changed to the wknd of April 21st/22nd in Stradbrook and will serve as both the final AIL game V Old Belvedere and the Paul Flood Cup Final.
The Rock Ladies have climbed to 3rd in the table after the first round of AIL games, a great feat considering the slow start with new players adjusting to Division One rugby. Rocks season has had its ups and downs with a number of new players joining the team this year and enforced retirements the ladies had to gel once again after last season losing 12 players to retirement or immigration. However continued game time sees them into their first final of the year and hopefully can make the All Ireland Cup final also.
The AIL season structure has changed this year with each team required to play each other once and following that the top 4 play each other once more and the bottom 4 play each other once more. There are once more no semi-finals or finals in the AIL. The winner is the team at the top of the table after 10 games.
Rock are through to the Top Half of the Table clashes with Highfield (tbc), UL Bohs (15th Apr) and Old Belvedere (22nd Apr), the final two games are home ties.
The All Ireland Cup starts next weekend against relatively unknown opposition Galbally (A) in Limerick followed by either Enniskillen or Shannon (H) the following week.
IRISH NEWS – Leinster’s successful interprovincial campaign which culminated in them taking the crown from Munster in Cork ensured that many of the Leinster players were named in the Irish Training Squad. This year due to the injury to Shannon Houston Amy Davis
is the only Rock representative in the starting 15. She has been in impressive form of late scoring a try in the Irish Ladies victory over Italy on Friday night in Ashbourne.
Finally good luck to Carrie Hanley who recently left us for the glitz of London in January. Carrie’s hard work and dedication to Rock has been outstanding since she joined in 2008. She will be sorely missed by all the Rock girls and management.