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St Mary's report on the Marble City Sevens

This year saw the inclusion of 7s as an Olympic sport for Rio 2016. The lure of representing your country in an up and coming sport and the increased funding both at international and club level has seen a massive increase in interest from all existing 15 players and those new to the sport. St. Mary’s women have always enjoyed playing 7s and whilst we have enjoyed some success in previous years at Kinsale 7s, 2013 was the first year St Mary's have officially launched a women's 7s programme , with an emphasis on bringing new players into the game. A meeting of minds took place at the beginning of the summer which set out the schedule for our summer of 7s. We enjoyed our weekend in Kinsale in May and whilst we did exceptionally well in our group, winning the plate in the Women’s Open division, we definitely had a hunger for more. Kilkenny became our next outing. While under the umbrella of St Mary's RFC, we adopted the name of 'H’angryBirds' to incorporate all non-club players that joined us along the way. Coaches Noel O'Dea and Rory O'Connor put a lot of time into the squad with regular training sessions in the lead up to the Marble City 7s and the exodus from Dublin on Friday 28th June was done with an air of optimism and determination.Up obscenely early the morning of the tournament under the instruction of our captain Anne-Marie Rooney we set off for the grounds of Kilkenny RFC. The day itself was glorious. After a week of scattered showers, the sun came out and the most valuable commodity at the grounds became sun cream and water. Arriving at the club, everything was set up, ready to go. Stalls, food outlets, tents and pitches all lined the concourse and pitch sides, not to mention the tunes pumping out from the speakers. The biggest attraction was the Lions game screened in the club which helped draw an early crowd, but for “H’angry Birds” it was secondary, as we had our first game against an outfit called ULLR Women. We were all a little sleepy starting off but whilst the game was dominated by H’angry Birds in the first half, a number of substitutions in the second half saw the team unhinged and two easy tries were run in by the opposition. For what should have been a win for the Dublin team actually turned out to be a defeat, but lessons were learned.Over the course of the day we had two more round robin matches again Allsorts and Tullow, along with a friendly against Kilkenny ladies and Portlaoise. After qualifying from our group, we faced an outfit made up of UL and emerging Irish 7s players in the semi final. We played our heart out and left nothing on the pitch. Green Lightening were just in a different league to us. They were fitter, stronger and more drilled. The final result resembled a cricket score but as always, the H’angry Birds played to the final whistle. Small personal goals were achieved. We made a tackle here and there. We communicated to each other and we forced their hand on a couple of occasions causing them to knock on or not make a clean pass. It’s important that we take the positives from games like this. Everyone gave their all. While we didn’t have a win under our belt, we were happy to get out of the blazing sun and enjoy all that Kilkenny RFC and city had to offer. The organization in the club was top rate. We were warmly welcomed and availed of the food stalls that were in operation ranging from massive burgers to savoury and sweet crepes. The camaraderie between all teams was exceptional and every game was clean and well run. Not only was a fantastic learning curve for the old heads on the team who might have been more used to the 15s game, it gave new players a run out for the first time and a taste of having the whole pitch at your disposal. We look forward to continuing the 7s programme next summer.Maeve Clarke

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