Cooke came out on top against UL Bohemian in a highly entertaining match at Shaws Bridge on Sunday afternoon in the Women’s All Ireland League.

With UL Boh’s missing six players to the international training camp this was a game that Cooke had to win if they were to establish their credentials in the top flight after an off season of departures. Coach Wayne Kelly looked to youth and with five players from Ulster’s Invincible 2016 U18 Team the youth certainly performed as Kelly McCormill, Katie Hetherington, Vicky Irwin, Emma Kearney and Neve Jones all played vital roles in the win.

The home side started brightly banged in three tries through Pieta McAlister and Kelly McCormill (2) in the first quarter, the deadly McCormill finishing off exceptional breaks from Ilse van Staden and Katie Hetherington respectively. Vicky Irwin converted one and UL Bohs only response was a penalty from the boot of Niamh Briggs.

However, it began to look ominous as Bohs got their act together to score two tries as Claire Bennett and captain Fiona Hayes crossed to take the score to Cooke 17  Bohs 15 at the break.

Whoever scored first in the second half was crucial and with Irish International van Staten in the sort of form that makes you wonder how she could have been overlooked for the upcoming internationals it’s no surprise that it was Cooke who got the score after a series of destructive scrums kept Bohs pinned in their own back yard. The home side marched the Bohs scrum twenty yards down the pitch before Beth Cregan broke off the back to touch down in the corner for the try bonus, extending Cooke’s lead to seven.

However, Bohs aren’t chasing their third successive title for no reason and the visitors struck back through the formidable Briggs who crashed over and converted her own score to tie the game at 22 all with minutes remaining.

The power of the scrum continued to count however, and with Cooke enjoying the bulk of clean possession they roused themselves for the winning try with Claire Johnston accepting the honours as she crashed over in the corner to seal the win.

Final score: Cooke 27 UL Bohemian 22

Big thanks to Bob Given Photography and Cyril Boyd Photography for providing the photos.

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