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Enniskillen Collegiate's experience decisive as girls win Schools' Cup

Enniskillen Coll 14 - 4 Victoria College

By Ronnie Ingram

Enniskillen Collegiate clinched the Danske Bank Girls' Schools' Cup for the sixth time in seven seasons after getting the better of Victoria College in the final at the Kingspan Stadium yesterday.

The Fermanagh team, who have an abundance of experience in the showpiece decider, came up against an improving Victoria side, playing in the final for the first time.

Enniskillen looked fitter, were faster to the ball and created numerous scoring chances. They always seemed dangerous, even when coming under pressure, and their defence was superb as they deservedly took a 7-1 advantage into the break, with a try equalling one point and no conversions.

Enniskillen coach Dee Colvin hailed the result as a fantastic achievement. She said afterwards: "The girls were absolutely thrilled to be able to play at the new Kingspan.

"The difference in the setup from the last time we played here was like chalk and cheese and we were very fortunate to make use of the new facilities.

"I thought Victoria played well considering their lack of experience and the wider pitch probably didn't help their cause. The noise from the crowd can also be daunting when you are not used to it.

"Another thrill for us was to meet two of Ireland's successful Six Nations players, Sophie Spence and Nora Stapleton, who took part in the Cup presentation.

"We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and cannot wait to hopefully get back again in future," she concluded.

This was a completely new experience for Victoria as they have only been playing the 'tag' game for a few years.

Their coach, Pat Stewart, commented: "It was absolutely brilliant and the girls had a ball.

"We were playing against such a well trained team and once I realised we were having problems, all the replacements were brought on to join in the fun. This whole tournament has provided encouragement for the future.

"Most of our team are hockey players who train twice a week and play on Saturdays so have had little time to concentrate on rugby.

"This is something I believe our Headmistress will take into consideration in future as the girls are really keen to improve.

"Sarah Hanley had an outstanding game and the players of the tournament were Phoebe Hagan and Laura McLaughlin," the coach concluded.

For the record, Enniskillen's Kathryn Dane showed her skills with four tries, the others coming from Claire Boles (3), Emma Shaw (2), Rebecca Pennell (2), Sophie Coalter, Maeve Somerville and Alice Hurst.

For Victoria, Zarah Ryan ran in two while Sarah Hanley and Lauren Coulter each scored one.

There was some consolation for Victoria as the school's athletes were winning most of the trophies in the Belfast City Council sponsored Ulster cross-country finals, which were taking place at the same time at Ormeau Park.

Enniskillen Collegiate: Kathryn Dane, Alice Hurst, Abbie Parkinson, Rebecca Pennell, Alison Glass, Clare Boles, Maeve Somerville. Emma Shaw, Hollie Bruce, Lucy Barr, Ellie Ingram, Grace Kettyle, Katie Boles, Ellie Rix, Sophie Coalter, Katie Corr, Katie Hetherington.

Victoria College: Zarah Ryan (c), Laura McLaughlin, Phoebe Hagan, Sarah Hanley, Sophie McCann, Natasha Patterson, Abi Carlisle, Lauren Coulter, Caroline Hannon, Amy Edwards, Lauren Henderson, Kate Brennan, Eve Corry, Helen Templeton, Emily Irvine, Odilia Goldsworthy, Niamh Crean.

Referee: Shane Toolan.

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