Pic Credit Donnie Phair see more of these images at :- http://www.donniephair.com/fermanagh-photo-may-2014/h3F227D7C#h2db1952e
Enniskillen Ladies hosted Cavan, the 2013/14 Ulster League winners, on a very wet and windy Sunday afternoon in their first home fixture of the Ulster League season.
For this fixture, Skins fielded two of their very talented youth players from last year, Alice Hurst and Kathryn Dane, alongside 3 new players, Sinead Dougherty, Erika Porter and Louise Thompson. The lack of experience did not affect the quality of play as senior players, Helen Carleton, Leona Hallett and Shauna McMorrow led by example in the back row while Collette McMorrow, Shauna Murphy and Noreen Nethercott led in the backline, although out of their normal field position.
Within 10 minutes, Alice Hurst, scored her debut try for the senior squad with some fantastic attacking play which began at the back of a ruck.
Susan Hall made sure the lineouts functioned well with her return to the game after a 2 year sabbatical while Áine Stennett and Fionnuala McGlover gave McMorrow the support required for some clean ball.
From the restart Skins through some great interlinking play between forwards and backs, attacked into the Cavan half and after 20 minutes Noreen Nethercott revealed her evasion skills with a great individual try under the posts. Shauna Murphy converted to give Enniskillen a 12-0 lead.
12 nil up and Skins lost concentration which gave Cavan forwards some hard earned gain. This lack of control and possession meant that the dangerous backline could not be given a free rein to attack who in Thompson, McMorrow, Dane and Murphy were carving Cavan to shreds in the first 20 minutes.
After 30 minutes, Cavan gained a foothold in the Enniskillen 22, and after a period of sustained pressure Cavan scored their first try.
From the restart, Skins tried to go back on the attack but with some decisions going against them at the breakdown, Cavan made their way back down the pitch to put pressure on the Skins try line and on the last play of the first half Cavan scored their second try and a conversion.
With the game now 12 all, Enniskillen received the second half kick-off, and with the wind to their back, the aim was to play the ball in Cavan’s half of the pitch. However due to the lack of control, communication, and steady possession, they were unable to use the wind to their advantage. Once Enniskillen got into Cavan’s half, they retained possession for a solid 20 minutes. During this period of dominance, a combination of control in rucks, and the appearance of Cavan players infringing at breakdown killed the quick ball option that the Skins backline needed. This led to the second half being very scrappy and contentious.
Cavan’s scrum half made a daring break down the wing in one of their last phases of attack, only to be stopped by Dane in a superb covering tackle assisted by Paula Cadden. Cavan pushed the ball left in the last phase of play and had one final line of attack towards Skin’s 22, to sneak a win but great pressure from new girl Erika Porter forced a knock on from Cavan and the game ended 12-12.
Skins pack plugged away at a very experienced Cavan pack, and credit must go to the Enniskillen front five who although inexperienced and under immense pressure, stood up to the encounter Cavan put to them. A competitive and physical game was personified by the courage of all, including lock Maeve McKenna who took a nasty knock to the eye late in the second half and bravely remained on the pitch until the final whistle.
Enniskillen deserved to get the win from this fixture, but lack of quick ball, decision making and communication ended their hopes of an opening home win but this can be worked on in training and will mean Enniskillen can look forward to a positive season.