The Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Women’s Paul Cusack and Paul Flood Plate Finals took place on Saturday at Energia Park, Donnybrook.

The day kicked off at 12pm with the match between NM Falcons and Clontarf FC played on the back pitch, followed by Edenderry RFC and Clondalkin RFC on the main Energia Park pitch at 1pm.

Bank of Ireland Paul Cusack Plate Final: NM Falcons 22-17 Clontarf FC

The North Midlands Falcons, an amalgamation of Portarlington RFC and Cill Dara RFC, added to their recent league final victory when they overcame an impressive Clontarf side in a pulsating final at Energia Park.

The first 15 minutes of the game saw the sides wrestling for control and it was the Falcons who took the early initiative when out-half Hannah Mulcahy put centre Caoilfhionn Culliton into space off an attacking scrum to open the scoring.

From the restart, things got even better for the Midlanders as they moved the ball wide to impressive winger Orla O’Donovan who made a 50-metre break before offloading brilliantly in contact to Culliton allowing her to sprint clear of the cover defence and the lead was extended to 14-0.

The setback only served to spark Clontarf into life as they looked to attack the Falcons at the fringes with big carries from Mona Homenco, Julia Bauer, Grace Carroll and Sorcha Maguire. However, each visit to the opposition 22 was met by resilient defending with Andrea Broughan, Sarah Pickford and Laura Tynan proving most effective for the Falcons. Eventually, patience paid off for ‘Tarf when their pack drew enough defenders into the tight areas to allow out half Niamh Keaveney to spread the ball wide to Angela Dwane who finished on the stroke of half-time and reduced the deficit to nine points.

Clontarf went straight back to work when the game resumed and after five minutes they were rewarded when, despite more impressive defending from the Falcons, they managed to create space in midfield and Rebecca Sullivan finished under the posts to the delight of the large Clontarf crowd.

The Falcons continued to soak up pressure after that score and on 55 minutes, with Clontarf fully committed in attack, Culliton broke from her own 22 and fed Aoife Murphy. The pacey full-back then drew the last defender and gave a well-timed pass to Vivienne Keary and the centre, whose performance in defence and attack thoroughly deserved a score, crossed for her side’s third try.

Clontarf, now a converted try in arrears, continued to be frustrated in attack and ultimately Falcons coach Cassie Dunne would point to her side’s aggressive defending as the key to their victory. They showed impressive line speed and accuracy in the tackle that denied Clontarf the space that they needed until, with three minutes remaining, the Dublin side finally found space out wide to score in the corner. The difficulty of the conversion, however, denied them the equalizing score and a Sarah Pickford lineout steal following a sideline break from Mulcahy and O’Donovan, gave Falcons the opportunity to play out the final minute in Clontarf territory.

Their pack then drew a last-play penalty which player of the match Hannah Mulcahy slotted and the final whistle was greeted by wild celebrations from her teammates and their supporters.

North Midlands Falcons: Laura Oakley, Kim Tully, Andrea Broughan, Amy Guilfoyle, Lorraine Byrne, Sarah Pickford, Kate Tynan, Hannah Mulcahy, Orla O’Donovan, Caoilfhionn Culliton, Vivienne Keary, Michelle Maher, Aoife Murphy, Leanne Caulfield, Sarah McLoughlin, Cassie Dunne.

Clontarf FC: Cliodhna Hughes, Mona Momenco, Sorcha Maguire, Sinéad Ní Bhrolcháin, Grace Carroll, Emma Burns, Aisling Cox, Julia Bauer, Caroline Hughes, Niamh Keaveney, Fiona McGonigle, Rebecca Sullivan, Donnla O’Hagan, Una Kehoe, Angela Dwane, Lisa Beth McCoy, Emer Coffey, Antonella Corbianchi, Emma Butler.

Player of the Match: Hannah Mulcahy (NM Falcons)

Bank of Ireland Paul Flood Plate Final: Clondalkin FC 7-27 Edenderry RFC

Clondalkin made a strong start to this Bank of Ireland Paul Flood Plate Final and dominated the first 10 minutes. The Dublin team were determined to win the competition after reaching the final for the second year in a row.

However, they failed to convert any of their opportunities into points and left the Edenderry 22 with nothing to show for their efforts. After this, Edenderry took control of the game and ran in a number of tries, two of them in quick succession scored by Kelsey O’Donnell and Serena Dowdall. Ciana Mangan slotted one conversion to give Edenderry a 12-0 lead.

It only took a few more minutes for Edenderry to score their third try, bringing the scoreboard up to 17-0, thanks to the winger Jane Fitzpatrick which was followed by another try from Lisa Moore.

With the score at 22-0, Edenderry steamrolled the Clonettes in a 20-minute spell before the last try from the Offaly side. It was 27-0 at half-time as Grainne Vaugh raced over for the last try of the day for Edenderry.

A brave performance by Clondalkin after the second half kicked off saw them score a very well-worked try and change the score to 27-7. There were two sin bins for Edenderry also after some offsides in the first 10 minutes of the half, but the players were more disciplined thereafter.

Clondalkin managed to keep Edenderry scoreless in the second period, but Offaly club finished the game on a comfortable 27-7 scoreline and were worthy winners of the Paul Flood Plate.

Clondalkin RFC: Louise Madge, Caroline Conway, Aideen Grogan, Niamh McDonnell, Emma Lewis, Anne Marie Whelan, Naomi Fynes, Fiona Tighe,  Niamh Farrelly, Brid Holohan, Amanda Madden, Kerryn Buck, Siobhan Tierney, Elaine Matthews, Nicola Smyth, Lorraine McDonnell, Lisa Turner, Dawn Keegan, Melissa Kavanagh, Irene Tshiamala

Edenderry RFC: Ciana Mangan, Siobhàn Cullen, Lisa Moore, Laura Cole, Emma Killeen, Kelsey O’Donnell, Anne Marie Manle, Catherine Neary, Grainne Vaugh, Paula Harte, Martina O’Rourke, Shauna O’ Brien, Serena Dowdall, Jane Fitzpatrick, Annie Quinn, Laurie O’ Brien, Orna Lowry, Aoife Carey, Aishling Daly, Leanne Hickey, Meave Downey, Suzanne Furey.

Player of the Match: Shauna O’Brien (Edenderry RFC)

Plates, medals and player of the match awards were presented after each game, by Eugene Noble, Leinster Rugby Women’s Committee Chairman.

Well done to both teams, players, staff and supporters who made all the way down to Energia Park on such a beautiful day and for the continuous support and dedication throughout the season. Details for the Paul Cusack Cup and Paul Flood Cup Finals below.

Bank of Ireland Paul Cusack Cup Final: Balbriggan RFC v Portlaoise RFC
Wednesday, 2nd May at Clondalkin RFC
Kick Off: 7.15pm

Bank of Ireland Paul Flood Cup Final: Suttonians RFC v St Mary’s College RFC
Tuesday, 3rd May, at Energia Park, Donnybrook
Kick-off: 7.30pm