City of Derry Ladies made history on Sunday after they claimed their first ever Rosie Stewart Ulster Senior Cup following an emphatic 46-0 defeat Carrickfergus Ladies 46-0 at Ballymena Rugby Club.
Having defeated rivals Cooke and Belfast Harlequins en route to the final, Derry entered the match as clear favourites. However, Carrickfergus had done their homework and it was clear that the took the field with intent.
The first minutes were nervous for both sets of players but a Rachel Lennox kick in the third minute settled Derry and was soon was followedby winger Natasha Milligan’s try when she beat the full-back to score in the corner. Milligan got herself on the scoresheet for the second time in four minutes when, following good driving by the Derry forwards and Mandisa Williams in particular, the ball was spun right where Milligan touched down in the corner.
The Derry Ladies continued to pressure the Carrickfergus half-backs and were rewarded again when captain Diane Nixon charged down the Carrick fly-half’s kick, collected the ball and ran in under the posts to leave the conversion a formality for full-back Lennox.
South African scrum-half Fundi Plaatjie scored the first of two superb tries when, following a planned move, she took the ball from fly-half Suzie Tinney and scampered round three opposition players to score underneath the posts. Lennox converted to leave the half-time score 24-0.
Derry on top
Carrick continued to play their rugby and Derry, having absorbed some pressure at the end of the first half, found themselves continuing to work hard. However, three minutes in the ball was won against the head by international kooker Stacey-Lea Kennedy and spun wide for centre Bridin McDermott to power her way over the line.
In the 50th minute, Nixon found herself in the centre with some space and broke through to feed the ball to the excellent Kelly Holmes who passed to Lennox to score. Nixon again featured when the ball was won against the head just outside the Derry 22. She broke and fed to Plaatjie who ran more than half the pitch to score under the posts, Lennox adding the extras. Youngster Ciara McGurk got on the scoresheet when she demonstrated her undoubted pace to beat a number of defenders to score the eighth and final try for City of Derry.
The Bowl was presented by Rosie Stewart’s Derry-based mother, Kathleen Gallagher, who appeared delighted the Derry girls had succeeded in bringing the Bowl to the Maiden City for the first time. In her acceptance speech, captain Diane Nixon praised the squad for their effort and commitment. She also thanked Head Coach James Doherty and coach Sean O’Kane for the hours of hard work they had put in to get the squad performing at this level.
Diane also gave a special mention to the club’s 1XV coach Mark Nichol and Ulster Ravens coach Terry McMaster, both of whom had taken time out of their hectic schedules to take training sessions for the girls during the cup run.