Three in a Row for the Ladies of Old Belvo
December 16, 2015 12:00 am client
Sunday 14th October 2012, UL Bohemians beat Old Belvedere by one point in a nail-biting showdown. It was a game that opened a lot of eyes; a loss of one point causes more pain than a loss of 50.
It shows you how close you came, but you couldn’t quite hit the mark. However, it may have been the best thing that happened to a then defeated Old Belvedere side.
Saturday 12th December 2015, Old Belvedere ladies win their third AIL title in a row. Second row and long-standing member of the club, Sheena Moore, has experienced the “absolute highs, and shattering lows” since joining in 2004.
“Having the opportunity to play a sport you love, with your closest friends, for the Club that brought you all together and gave you the opportunity to represent them, that’s what makes winning the AIL title so special and unforgettable for me.”
Ladies rugby in Ireland is in a period of progress, growth and optimism. The success of our internationals in both the Six Nations and World Cup captured the nations attention and is encouraging hundreds of young girls to ‘Give it a Try’. Rugby is becoming more skilled, physical and tactical. You ask any player that played an All-Ireland League game this year and they will tell you that wins do not come easy.
Out-half Nora Stapleton describes just how difficult the path to the three in a row has been:
“Our first year winning was a real bonus for all the years of hard work put in to the team in the lead up. Year two was the first time we went to the top four finish before Christmas. This year, we never spoke about the 3 in a row. We knew coming in to the season that it was going to be a hard ask to finish as we had the year before, so it was all about building.”
Since the top four play-offs were introduced in 2013-2014, each final has produced a tighter scoreline. The league deciders have pushed the AIL teams to their limits, helped raise the standard of women’s rugby in Ireland and given everyone involved a more exciting finish to the AIL. Stapelton believes that “teams come under pressure to produce wins expected of them. Belvo are no different, we demand the best of each other as a squad, we want to be better than the year before and produce great rugby; our club, coaches and peers demand that from us.”
Team spirit is one of the main reasons why Old Belvedere attract players such as Marie Louise Reilly, Aine Donnelly, Kathryn Dane and Sophie Spence to join the side. Some might think it’s easy to field two or three teams in competitions each year but in reality, the efforts that go into managing and organising the club are nothing short of astonishing.?
Old Belvo are certainly having their moment, and they’ve earned it through persistence and dedication, developing multiple teams from the ground up. For prop Ailis Egan “this win will live long in the memory. It has been a hard-fought season with epic battles, culminating in a great final! Playing rugby and winning with your best mates is something that money can’t buy, and to be able to do that three years in a row has been unbelievable.”
Regrouping for the Cup is next, while recruitment is on-going. There is always need for new players and it’s about building a pathway in the club from J1s to Firsts to Interprovincial and Ireland, if that’s where it leads. But club comes first, Belvo players know it and that is why this year’s win means to much to the triumphant side.?