First ever Ladies' Exiles game played at Mullaghmeen
On Saturday December 27, Enniskillen Ladies rugby team hosted an Enniskillen Ladies Exile team under lights at Mullaghmeen, a fixture that is the first of its kind in Ulster if not Ireland. The Exiles were made up of ex players who have retired from playing and those who are now living and working away from home, with Alison Lappin having made the longest journey home from Melbourne, Australia to join the Exiles team.
As is usual with the Christmas period the excess of the festivities took a toll in the numbers available, leaving both teams playing with a little less than 15 a-side. The first half started at a frantic pace which left both teams looking for their second wind and wishing they hadn’t had that second helping of Christmas pudding! As with the men’s game, played earlier in the day, both teams got stuck in to each other and loyalties were put to the one side. Martina Boyd, continued where she left off all those years ago, to put in some ferocious hits. Full back Imelda Leonard fielded the ball like she’d never been away and made some impressive attacking runs to put the exiles into some good field positions but these were halted by current captain Leona Hallet who wasn’t in the mood to conceed any soft scores!
The game ebbed back and forth with scores coming from both teams. By half time the Exiles led by one try.
The second half started much the same, with jinking runs by Kathryn Dane and Louise Thompson for the home side and Noreen Nethercott looking dangerous breaking tackle after tackle. However, the one player advantage that the Exiles had began to show with Caoimhe Morris, Lappin and Brenda Brogan combining in the centre to carve open the defence and just after the home team equalised, the Exiles went on to score five unanswered consecutive tries to see out the game to win the first ever Ladies Exiles game.
It was great to see all the Ladies home and still capable of playing some very good rugby. Since Ladies Rugby was first played at Enniskillen, a little over 10 years ago, it is unbelievable the quality and numbers of Ladies that have played for this great club. If it wasn’t for the economic conditions of the last number of years it would be quite feasible that Enniskillen would be fielding two ladies teams, one of which would be playing at the highest of levels in Ireland.
A great night of rugby for those playing and watching and hopefully this game will become a regular fixture over Christmas, for years to come.
Ladies entertain Ballyshannon at home on Sunday, January 11 in the first round of the Rosie Stewart Memorial Cup. Kick off at 1.00 p.m.