Grosvenor GS 8 – 11 The Royal School, Dungannon
The final whistle at the Kingspan Stadium on Monday (5th April) brought great excitement as The Royal School won the Danske Bank Girls’ Schools’ Cup for the first time with a hard fought but deserved win over Grosvenor GS. This was only the second time that RSD had entered the competition but many of the girls play rugby outside the school with local clubs.
The team was captained by Grace Shrestha who had been part of the Ulster U18 Girls squad which had won their inaugural Inter Provincial Championship back in September. There were loud cheers from the RSD supporters who numbered over 500 as firstly all the girls received their medals and then as Grace received the Danske Bank Girls’ Schools’ Cup from the President of the Ulster Branch, Mr John McKibben.
The Girls’ Schools’ Cup is a tag rugby event with teams having 10 players on the pitch at any one time and played on a slightly narrower and shorter pitch to the full game. The game is played over two halves of 20 minutes each and is designed to produce a fast “off-loading” type game where RSD excelled.
Zoe Henderson opening the scoring after 3 minutes for RSD but GGS responded with three scores of their own to lead 1 – 3 and gain ascendancy in the match. However RSD gradually came into the game initially with some good defensive work before scores by Emily Carson and Zoe Henderson took the score to 3 – 3 as the teams changed ends.
An early score by GGS in the second half was cancelled out by one from Zoe Henderson before GGS took the lead again. RSD then took control of the match as they scored 5 times in 7 minutes through Lucy Turkington, Laura Saunders, Sarah Shrestha, Katie Burns and Holly Henderson for RSD to lead 9 – 5, a lead which they never relinquished. A GGS score was cancelled out by one from Sarah Shrestha before a mini fight back by GGS saw them reduce the deficit to 10 – 8. However a final score, and her fourth, by Zoe Henderson sealed the win for RSD 11 – 8 with the final whistle sparkings celebrations both on the pitch and in the grandstand.
To reach the final the girls had taken part in a qualifying quarter final event at at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena Cookstown on Tuesday 7th March where they won their matches as follows: St Josephs (5-0), Enniskillen Royal GS (1-0) and RS Armagh (6-0).
At the semi-final stage on Tuesday 14th March they were also unbeaten including wins over Enniskillen Royal GS who have won 6 of the 7 previous competitions. The results which saw the RSD reach the Kingspan Stadium final were wins as follows: Enniskillen Royal GS Team 1 (3-2), Loreto Letterkenny Team 1 (5-0), Royal School Cavan (2-1), Fivemiletown College (4-2), Enniskillen Royal GS Team 2 (1-0) and Loreto Letterkenny Team 2 (4-0).
The RSD team has been coached by Mrs Diane Robb and Mr Gareth McClintock. Commenting about the win Mrs Robb said “I’m delighted for the girls who have put so much work into preparing for the final particular. I would like to thank Grosvenor GS for a very competitive match with the results not being certain until the final whistle. My thanks to Mr McClintock for leading the training sessions and for his help with the preparations for the final. Thanks also to those who coach many of the girls at Dungannon Rugby Club and in particular to Charlie Farrell.”
The RSD Headmaster Dr David Burnett was also delighted with the win. He said “It’s a great day for the school and I’m so pleased for the girls on the team who have worked hard to get to this stage and have been rewarded by their success. It was also very pleasing that so many of our pupils, staff and governors were able to attend the game along with many parents and friends of the school.”
RSD Squad: Grace Shrestha (Captain), Lucy Turkington (Vice-Captain), Rebecca Boyd, Katie Burns, Katie Browne, Emily Carson, Aoife Hagan, Holly Henderson, Zoe Henderson, Morgan Jenkins, Sophie Khan, Tiffany McDonald, Laura Saunders, Hannah Scott-Burrows, Sarah Shrestha, Lucy Stewart.
(Images above kindly given with permission from Darren Kidd, Press Eye Photography.)