The Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Paul Flood and Paul Cusack Cup and Plate finals took place on Saturday, 27 April at Energia Park.
The eight teams playing their finals displayed fantastic games of rugby, despite challenging weather elements in Donnybrook.
Paul Cusack Plate
Greystones RFC 46-5 Wanderers RFC
Wanderers RFC, having secured a place in the final after, first, a bye and then a walkover from Suttonians J1s, took on Greystones RFC for the first time since both teams were in Division 3 in the 2017/18 season.
Wanderers started the match strongly and defended solidly as well as securing themselves a fair share of possession. The new team arrangement that they were trialing for the first time held up well and Dee Keating played confidently in her first match at fly-half.
After a cagey first ten minutes, Greystones started to sniff out opportunities down the wings and were able to get in for their first try. This opened the proverbial floodgates and there was little Wanderers could do to keep this slick side at bay, however the ladies have a lot of learning points to take away from the match, namely holding the defensive line and not conceding penalties from easily avoidable errors.
Late in the second half, Majella Cox, playing her first match at No 8, exploited a momentary lack of concentration from Greystones and went in to score under the posts, with Pia Kramer hitting the post with the conversion attempt.
The game finished 46-5 and Greystones lifted the Plate as worthy winners. Wanderers Women will reflect on the things that could have been done better and will garner a lot of motivation from the result as they prepare for their play-off match vs Portlaoise on 12th May.
Player of the match: Marta González, Greystones RFC.
Paul Flood Plate
Clondalkin RFC 15-17 Wicklow RFC
Wicklow took on Clondalkin for the fourth time in the Paul Flood Plate final. The gale that was blowing didn’t deter the crowd who turned out in large numbers as they have done for Wicklow all year.
Clondalkin have lost their second Paul Flood Plate final in as many years. They faced a well drilled and talented Wicklow side in Energia park.
Clondalkin were looking to add some silverware to their season. The team was well prepared by Alan Hickey and Ray Kelly, who had a challenging season but the benefits of their coaching and the women’s dedication could be seen in their recent performances.
Wicklow, playing into the wind, started the stronger with some big carries from the forwards and good handling in the backs. Tries from Rachael Griffey, Jess Schmidt and Aoibhin Stone meant that Wicklow took a strong 17-5 lead into the break and were expected to push on in the second half.
As the second half kicked off, Clondalkin launched a fight back. Strong carries through their forwards gave them field position. Some wayward passing and sloppy tackling by Wicklow led to a breakaway try down the wing by Clondalkin to make it 17-10. Wicklow peppered the Clondalkin line and were nearly over on a couple of occasions but never quite got there. A sequence of infringements by Wicklow led to a Clondalkin scrum on the Wicklow 22 from which the south Dublin club crashed over to make it 17-15. The conversion, kicked into the titanic breeze, dropped just short of the posts to Wicklow’s delight.
Clondalkin did not have enough time to work their way back up the pitch against the gale , the effort of constant carrying into the bigger pack was energy sapping and time consuming. The final score was 17-15 in what was a hugely competitive encounter.
Wicklow had a brilliant season getting to all three finals, winning two of them and only losing the Metro Cup final narrowly to the newly crowned AIL champions Railway Union. Wicklow went through the league undefeated and secured promotion to the AIL Qualifying League next season.
Player of the match: Sara Phelan, Clondalkin RFC
Paul Cusack Cup Final
Port Dara Falcons 24-5 Dublin University FC
Dublin University came to the cup final eager to make up for their loss in the Division 3 League final. Port Dara, having won the Paul Cusack Plate two years ago, were determined to take the cup home.
It was guaranteed that we would see a very competitive final as both teams compete in Division 3 of the Leinster League and know each other well.
Port Dara Falcons opened the scoring midway through the first half after an extended phase of pressure on the DUFC line. The Falcons slowly took control of the game, scoring two tries and one conversion, leading 12-0. Trinity quickly reacted with a try of their own, and gained a bit of confidence to break Port Dara’s defensive line. However, the Kildare side responded with a third and fourth try, ending the match 24-5.
Dublin University can be proud this season having made the final of the Paul Cusack Cup, as well as the Leinster Division Three final. A phenomenal achievement for the Trinity team.
Player of the match: Andy Broughan, Port Dara Falcons
Paul Flood Cup Final
Tullow RFC 24-7 Tullamore RFC
Tullow travelled to Energia Park fiercely determined to end the season with a win but were well aware of the sour taste of defeat, losing a final on the same turf two years ago and this year losing the league title in extra time.
Tullamore put up a great fight and led 7-5 at half time in spite of Tullow playing with the breeze. Sarah Rennick scored in the corner in the 13th minute. Tullamore responded well, played a strong half and were well rewarded with a seven pointer on the 28th minute.
Tullamore fought hard and were looking dangerous until they suffered a cruel blow as an intercept inside Tullow’s 22 by full back and player of the match Hilary Griffin gifted the Carlow club another try and a more comfortable cushion on the scoreboard.
With the score at 17-7 Tullamore kept the pressure on and an almost certain try was denied by the ever present and speedy centre Chloe Farrell who had to show all her class to get back and put in a fierce tackle.
Tullow grew in confidence and smelled victory. They kept the ball tight and then the result was sealed with a fine try by Lauryn Faulkner under the posts leaving the score 24-7 with eight minutes remaining..
Great individual performances by Alex O’Brien, Katie O’Brien, Clare Nolan and Chloe Farrell, but the Paul Flood Cup was won by a huge second half from the entire 22.
Player of the match: Hillary Griffin, Tullow RFC.
Plates, medals and player of the match awards were presented after each game, by Eugene Noble, Leinster Rugby Women’s Committee Chairman.
AIL Finals also took place on the day. Massive congratulations to Railway Union RFC Women, All- Ireland League Champions 2019, and to Suttonians Women as they qualified for the Women’s All-Ireland League.
Well done to all the teams and to the supporters who made the way to Energia Park, showing their continuous support and dedication to Leinster Women throughout the season.
Click here to view the full gallery from all four finals.