Navan 14 – Portarlington 27

U14 girls premier league

Navan kicked off their first match in the newly formed premier league on Saturday. This league was set up to let the stronger teams in Leinster meet each other more regularly. No more easy matches. Unfortunately, our numbers were tight, due to a clash with Meath county trials. We were down to the bare bones with no subs. However, the girls that turned up can be very proud of their performance. Tara Quinn and Alicia Kavanagh, two of the younger players, certainly started off in the deep end, but managed just fine.

Portarlington kicked off straight to Sasha Guirey who burst straight through to score the first try of the day under the posts. Leah Morris made the conversion look easy. Seven up for Navan in the first few minutes but Portarlington came back and scored three, converting one, leaving it at 17-7 at the break.

The second half, started and Anna Hilliard arrived to take some pressure off an exhausted team. A while later Steffi Finnegan arrived to further relieve pressure. Navan started to come into the game but couldn’t break through. Jade Gaffney relieved Cara Martin at nine with Cara moving out to the wing. Emilie O Brien another one of our new players carried well and is starting to benefit from game time. Ally Cullivan was solid as usual tackling well and making yards in attack. Ava Galvin and Lilly O Dwyer took either wing and had their hands full stopping much larger opposition. Niamh did her part as well in a very physical game. Rosie Searle at full back was excellent covering both wings and coming into the attacking line as well.

There was a great battle for yards in the middle of the field with Portarlington finding the gaps and scoring two more tries. But the Navan girls wouldn’t give in. Ellen Birmingham arrived with five minutes to go and on her first match for Navan made a huge impact. Two minutes on the pitch, she was across the line but was held up. This didn’t deter her, and she managed to score a try in the last play of the game. Leah added the conversion with a kick that Jonny Sexton would be proud of.

Lauren FitzPatrick was the outstanding player and woman of the match. She was that impressive, the Portarlington coach came over to her after the match to compliment her on her game. As usual she fought for everything at the breakdown, winning most of the battles. Then when we were deep in our own 22, she chipped the ball over the top chasing it herself and getting us out of jail.

The final score doesn’t really reflect the effort put in by Navan. Portarlington are as strong as they get, so we know what we have to do the next time.

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