Tralee Ladies valiant in AIL Div 2 Final defeat Tralee 7 Navan 17

November 7, 2018

The Tralee side started much the brighter and enjoyed long spells of possession deep inside Navan’s half but were unable to break down what was a very well organised Navan defence. Navan had precious few periods in the Tralee half and seemed to be struggling to deal with the Tralee pressure but their defensive line stood strong. The first half would finish scoreless and Tralee were left wondering how they had not exploited the chances they had squandered in the opening 40 minutes.

With the majority of possession and pitch position in the first half, Tralee looked to be favourite to break the dead lock and record the first score as the second half started. However, this was not the case, as the Navan side came to life in the second half and matched Tralee in all areas of the pitch. Tralee seemed stunned by the resurgent Navan side and this lead to repeated errors by the Tralee side. Mid way through the second half Navan capatilised on the Tralee errors and ran in for the game’s first score. Following the conversion Navan had a 7-0 lead with 22 minutes remaining in the game. Following Navan’s opening score, Tralee let their intensity drop and allowed Navan gain more control which inevitably lead to the games second try and a 14 point lead for Navan. With 14 minutes remaining and a 14 point deficit, Tralee began to look more like the Tralee side of the first half and dominated the game. Tralee bombarded the Navan defensive line with attack after attack but stout defence and intelligent kicking kept Navan 14 points to the good. However, Tralee were to be rewarded for the pressure when Christine Arthurs latched onto an offload, sliced through the Navan line and ran from half way to touch down under the posts. Siobhan Barrett added the extra 2 points and with 8 minutes remaining, this game was a contest again. Tralee continued to fight tooth and nail and Navan continued to defend without concession. Eventually though with a minute left in the game, Tralee saw all hope vanish when Navan were awarded a penalty on the 22 and straight in front of the posts. Successfuly converted left the scoreline at 17-7 with only injury time to be played. Tralee continued to fight but when the final whistle sounded, Navan stood victorious after what was an incredible game of rugby. After the game, coach Paul McMahon stated that he could not be more proud of the way his team had performed and that the fight they exhibited was typical of the fortitude the squad possesses.

Although the Tralee side faced a long journey home without the AIL Division 2 Championship, they have plenty to be proud of in a season that after 19 games of competitive rugby yielded an AIL Division 2S Championship, an undefeated league campaign and cup victories against Division 1 opposition. Nine of the 22 Tralee players who played in the final had not played rugby prior to this season and that is testament to how well this team has developed and the potential it has.

Captain’s Match Report
Dubarry Park in Athlone was the focal point for Saturdays big season finale where the top Division 2 side’s from both north and south came together to battle it out for the league cup and promotion to Division 1 next season.

A beautiful day for the occasion but, after our fine spring, ground conditions were not ideal for bouncing back up after big tackles and the bodies were going to be sore one way or another.

The Tralee Ladies won the toss and received the kick off. It was clear almost immediately that there was going to be very little time for getting composed and it was a case of swim or sink. Tralee dominated for the first half hour and had Navan deep in their own half for lengthy periods, they came so close to scoring a fine try after hard work from the pack but unfortunately their eagerness and hunger resulted in some poor decision-making as there was buckets of space after opening up out wide that they failed to capitalise on and while Navan must be given credit for their defence Tralee should not have left this series of play without a try. It was at this point that the game changed. Navan perhaps got the fright they needed to kick them up a gear where as it left the Ladies from the Kingdom with their head hanging slightly. Half time came with the score níl all.

Navan came out in the second half all guns blazing. Their determination dictated a lot of what Tralee were left get away with which wasn’t much. They turned over lots of ball when they held Tralee up in numerous mauls. They worked in packs and were just too quick and cute for Tralee to react to on the day. Their first try came when they moved the ball quickly through their back line and with some excellent off loads managed to thin the Tralee defence just enough to create a gap to finish with a try which they converted. Their second try came when they had Tralee working the ball within their own 22, after a Tralee kick was blocked down and instead of Tralee putting their bodies on the line and diving on the ball they chose to kick it along the ground which ended up in Navan hands and home they ran between the posts for another try they converted. It wasn’t until the middle of the second half after Navan scoring two tries that Tralee began to believe in themselves and their abilities and started to play some good rugby and after a number of good quick rucks Ciara O’Connor made a great break, and then off-loaded to Christine Arthurs who finished between the posts which Siobhán Barrett converted. Tralee lifted their games for the remainder of the game but unfortunately time was running out and when Navan were awarded a penalty they went for the post and now the gap was just too big for Tralee to close before the clock ran down. The final score was Navan 17 Tralee 7.

Regardless of the end result on Sunday, the Tralee Ladies have had another phenomenal season and credit goes to their coach Paul “YAK” McMahon who should be very proud of this special team he has created from what started out as a bunch of individuals, he has moulded into a powerful team that show huge character, unity and dedication for each other which can now best be described as a FAMILY. To David Condon who left no stone unturned all season and made sure all the finishing touches were just right. The disappointment on Saturday will one day very soon turn into triumph there is no doubt when all these experiences will make them stronger. The Ladies would like to thank everybody involved with them on their journey this year and to their supporters who have been brilliant all season, huge thanks to the supporters who travelled to Athlone on Saturday last. Until next season, take care.

Team:- Marie Reidy, Leanne McCarthy, Aoife O’Sullivan, Niamh Dempsey, Nuala O’Connor, Trish McMahon, Edel O’Sullivan, Siobhán Fleming, Shauna Lynch, Ciara O’Connor, Laura Mahony, Riona Kennedy, Lynda Raymond, ,Siobhán Barrett.

Subs:- Thelma Caples, Lisa Nelligan, Catherine Doolan, Elaine Drumm, Michelle Barry, Leigh Anne O’Driscoll, Claire Dwyer.