Balbriggan Women v CYM, 18th Feb

What a day! Balbriggan’s Women’s Senior team made history last week by securing the victory needed to clinch the Leinster League Division 2 title and with it promotion to Division 1 for the first time.

A full squad gathered for the coach journey around the M50 to CYM’s grounds in Terenure. A good luck video message from Emily Kitson’s family and friends in New Zealand provided an emotional and inspiring element to the journey. Mascot Sophie was also on hand to travel with the team and lead them out onto the pitch.

The match started with Balbriggan on top but a resolute defensive display from the hosts kept them out. As the nerves mounted the aggressive line speed of CYM forced some uncharacteristic handling errors from Balbriggan. Eventually the pressure paid off when Shannon Campbell was released on the right wing and dotted down in the corner. She then slotted an excellent conversion to give Balbriggan a 7 point lead.

CYM did not let up and continued to pressure the visitors. Gradually Balbriggan got on top and were finally able to break the home side’s resistance when Emily Kitson blew the game open with a 7 minute hat trick. Shannon converted 2 of these to bring the half time score to CYM 0 Balbriggan 26.

This gave Balbriggan the breathing space they needed and they were able to express themselves in the second half. A strong bench helped to keep the tempo high. The second half was barely a minute old when a big tackle and turnover by Emily freed Andrea Murray who carried hard, deep into the CYM 22 and just as the defence converged on her she popped a lovely offload to the supporting Steph Campbell to score in the corner.

Balbriggan now went through its full bag of tricks with a strike play off a scrum seeing Laura McDonald scythe through the defence to score under the posts, a cross field kick by Emily put Shannon away for her second try of the game and a quick tap penalty resulted in Emily running 40m to score her fourth try of the day. In an exceptional kicking performance, Shannon converted all four of these scores to finish with a brilliant return of 7 from 8 off the tee and personal haul of 24 points on the day.

There were great celebrations at the final whistle between the players and the huge travelling support as skipper Eadoin Cannon lifted the Division 2 trophy. This was Balbriggan’s eleventh win in a row, a run that saw them defeat every team in the league at least once, a remarkable run. 

This success was driven by the entire squad so while only 22 could tog out on the day the other players who were injured or didn’t get a run all contributed to this victory. While this was an achievement first and foremost for Balbriggan, the part played by other North East clubs in offering girls rugby to young players must also be acknowledged. This squad has a number of players who first played rugby in neighbouring clubs Boyne, Skerries and Ardee, we thank them for their contribution to Women’s rugby.

The celebrations kicked off in earnest back in the clubhouse and continued long into the night. Well deserved for the history makers!

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