Enniskillen 24 CLMO 19

Enniskillen Skins U18 Girls ended their season on the highest of notes as they triumphed in the Girls Cup, defeating a Carrick/Larne/Malone/Ophir (CLMO) team 24-19 in Kingspan Stadium last Sunday.

It was the first time the showpiece event for Ulster Girls Youth  Rugby was to finally take place at the home of Ulster Rugby with three Girls Cup Finals being played on a beautiful warm April afternoon. 

The Enniskillen girls came into the contest full of confidence after going unbeaten at club and school rugby all season, recording some fantastic victories and scoring tries at will. 

The game kicked off with CLMO starting and from the very first minute, the Skins girls got their hands on the ball and were determined to not let possession away cheaply.

Early domination by the Enniskillen girls almost resulted in the first try of the game when Madeline Hamill crossed the line but smart defensive play by the opposition managed to hold her up off the line resulting in a goal lane dropout.

The pressure continued from Enniskillen and it seemed only a matter of time before the score would come.

A very pivotal point of the game then happened when on 25 mins Co-captain Aimee Ross had to leave the pitch with a broken wrist.

This forced the Skins into changes with Olivia Beavis moving into scrum half and Amy Meeke taking her position at out half.

Victoria Murray came off the bench to go into the forward pack and the hard-working Sophie Moore moved with her plentiful pace out onto the wing.

Despite all the changes it was to be the Skins girls who did score first with a lovely move out to the left wing from Gemma Elliott and Amanda Farrell before the ball eventually got to Anna Wilson from a lovely final pass by Freya Brennan. The conversion was narrowly missed by Amy Meeke but it was 5-0 to the Skins.

Having secured the lead, the Skins girls continued to dominate possession and territory but it was an unusual gap in their defence that allowed a breakaway try from CLMO from almost their first possession to be scored underneath the posts.

The conversion kick was heroically charged down by Leah Irwin, Sarah Corry and Alex Boyd and the halftime score went in evenly at 5-5 after a half dominated by Skins.  

The second half started like the first half with the Skins girls dominating the first five minutes.

After an amazing tackle by Sarah Corry which forced a drop ball from CLMO, it was Anna Wilson who reacted the quickest and using some lovely football skills dribbled the ball up the right wing over the line and fell on it to score out wide. A lovely opportunist try and with the conversion from out wide right sailing over the barit was now 12-5. 

Skins team went back into action again and had good possession in midfield but at this point, a pass was intercepted by the CLMO outside centre in the midfield and she went towards the posts, over the line, but in the act of scoring the try a remarkable piece of defence by player of the match Sarah Corry, knocked the ball out of her grasp as she was falling onto it.

This was a try-saving intervention and gave the Enniskillen girls a huge lift. 

CLMO then had a period when they were camped in the Enniskillen 22.

But several fantastic double tackles made by Amanda Farrell, Sadhbh Wells, Eve Courtney and Olivia Black kept them out for another 10 minutes. However, their size and tenacity did result in a score under the posts which they converted to leave it 12-12. 

Skins bounced back with pressure of their own and it eventually told when a perfect team try stretched the CLMO girls from right to left side with fantastic carries by Mia Deane, Amy Taylor, Daisy O’Hare and Elle Cartin-McCloskey who were all fresh and willing to take their part on the pitch from the bench.

The ball eventually went to the left wing and a lovely offload by Hamill to Alex Boyd let her score out wide and another fantastic conversion by Leah Irwin from the other side of the pitch meant the score was 19-12. 

The next try was to be crucial and it was the Skins girls who would get it. More lovely handling and a sustained period of possession saw Boyd go over the line for her second try of the day. The conversion by Irwin struck the right upright but failed to go over but the lead was now double figures. 24-12. 

Well into injury time CLMO scored a consolation try which they converted but it was not enough as Enniskillen secured possession and exerted more pressure and the final whistle eventually came and the celebrations for the Skins girls were able to take place.

Speaking after the fantastic victory, Skins coach, Ian Ross commented: "A really tough but well-contested final has resulted in an unbeaten season for the Skins girls and another fantastic Cup in their possession.

"This team have been superb for the last four seasons and it was a privilege to watch them lift the Ulster Club Cup at the Kingspan Stadium.

"The vast majority of this team have now won the Ulster Club Cup and Ulster Schools' Cups in the last few weeks and it is a testament to their ability, determination and their remarkable attitude to have fun on the rugby pitch and they have been a breath of fresh air to the girls rugby scene in Ulster. 

"We wish Aimee Ross and Ellen Graham a speedy recovery from their broken wrist and broken ankle respectively and we know they’ll be back stronger."