South-East 24 North Midlands 19.

Majella Robinson was on hand to deliver the trophy named in honour of the memory of her daughter Sarah at Tullow RFC on Wednesday night.

South East emerged as the winners of the Bank of Ireland Leinster Girls U18s Cup in an instant classic.

It had all the high-level intensity of an Interprovincial duel with Ireland U18s coach Katie Fitzhenry and Leinster Head of Rugby Phil Lawlor in attendance.

Last year, the same two areas ended up in a winner-take-all contest which went the way of the North Midlands on tries-scored after a 24-all draw.

Last night, South East began as though that was very much on their minds as Ciara Short nabbed a lineout ball.

Scrum-half Eve Prendergast delivered from the base of a couple of quick rucks for Orla Wafer to blast over, Abby Healy converting in the fourth minute

Strong running by North Midlands centre Heidi Lyons came to nothing before their tapped-back lineout was stolen by Deirbhile Gavighan and the flanker made significant ground.

The ball was recycled at speed for out-half Healy to take advantage of a fractured defensive line for a try and conversion in the eighth minute. 

The onslaught didn’t end there.SE were feasting on mistakes, yet another turnover from a knock-on ending in a try, this time by the dancing feet of full-back Robyn O’Connor for 19-0 in the 11th minute.

From there, NM did well to regroup and, finally, assert some pressure at the other end of the pitch.

Captain Niamh Murphy’s steal at a ruck stalled SE and full-back Sophie Cullen showed speed in space.

Then, Emma Jane Wilson took the ball on for prop Clodagh Goulding to cross for a much-needed try in the 26th minute.

Flanker Wilson was on the ball again in the lead-up to a try by centre Murphy which was converted by Amy Rushton for 19-12 at the break.

South East took a firmer grip with a fourth try when Clara Dunne’s pass found Katie Corrigan to make it a double-score difference of 24-12 in the 43rd minute.

Back came NM, Corrigan making a try-saving tackle to maintain the gap. The hard-working Wilson got her due reward with a try that out-half Rushton nailed to make it a one-score game in the 48th minute.

It was all to play for and there was plenty of time left on the clock to swing it one way or the other.

It was turning into a dong-dong struggle as the packs traded blows, NM just about edging the arm wrestle for territory.

However, they were unable to crack open SE in what was a case of a good attack being turned away by the better defence.

Scorers – South-East:  A Healy try, 2 cons; O Wafer, R O’Connor, K Corrigan try each. North-Midlands – C Goulding, EJ Wilson try each; A Rushton 2 tries.

South-East: 15. Robyn O’Connor (Wexford Wanderers), 14. Emer Sweetnam (Gorey), 13. Katie Corrigan (Tullow), 12. Clara Dunne (Wicklow), 11. Molly O’Gorman (Wexford Wanderers), 10. Abby Healy (Wicklow), 9. Eve Prendergast (New Ross), 1. Kelly McGee (Wicklow), 2. Bronagh Boggan (Wexford Wanderers), 3. Melissa Quirke (Wexford Wanderers), 4. Rachel Dempsey (Wexford Wanderers), 5. Carla Cloney (Enniscorthy), 6. Deirbhile Gavighan (Wicklow), 7. Ciara Short (Wicklow), 8. Orla Wafer (Enniscorthy).

Replacements: 16. Mary Canavan (Gorey), 17. Aoife Cullen (Wexford Wanderers), 18. Usha Daly-O’Toole (Gorey), 19. Rebecca Brennan (Wicklow), 20. Amy O’Brien (Enniscorthy), 21. Emily Corrigan (Tullow), 22. Doireann Kiloran (Arklow), 23. Alannah Dixon (Wicklow).


North-Midlands: 15. Sophie Cullen (Naas), 14. Faye O’Toole (Clane), 13. Niamh Murphy (Port Dara, Capt), 12. Heidi Lyons (Naas), 11. Ellie White (PortDara), 10. Amy Rushton (Port Dara), 9. Julie Nolan (Athy), 1. Aoife Thompson (PortDara), 2. Lucy Snoddy (Athy), 3. Clodagh Goulding (PortDara), 4. Alannah O’Brien (Athy), 5. Ellen Dunne (Athy), 6. Emma-Jane Wilson (PortDara), 7. Kate Noons (PortDara), 8. Orla McDonald (PortDara).

Replacements: 16. Lizzie Crumpton (North Kildare), 17. Avril Whittle (PortDara), 18. Gabby Ryan (Portlaoise), 19. Shauna Healy (Athy), 20. Roisin Kehoe (PortDara), 21. Orla O’Keeffe (PortDara), 22. Emma Henry (Athy), 23. Lily Haslam (Naas).