Young Ballygarrett native Aoife Wafer earned her first senior Ireland international women’s cap yesterday evening in Musgrave Park, Cork City…
Her rise to the top has been nothing short of spectacular. Aoife played underage rugby for Enniscorthy Rugby football club only a matter of seasons ago.
Impressing at club level, she graduated onto South East teams where more incredible form from Wafer led her to provincial honours for Leinster youths. Last year, she captained the Leinster U-18 team. Aoife now plays her club rugby in Dublin with Blackrock. She was first spotted by Ireland coach Greg McWilliams when Aoife was on Development 7’s squad duty in Dubai in December stringing together some splendid performances.
The Ballygarrett woman’s tenacious form in Dubai led McWilliams to exclaim, “who is this person”. Aoife was thus on his radar and this Sunday evening in Cork found herself in the matchday squad against Italy. Described as a hard grafting teak-tough tackler the Ballygarrett woman lines out at blindside flanker normally. At the incredibly youthful age of 19, the Wexford woman proudly made her debut.
Coming in of the bench around the seventieth-minute mark to rapturous applause from a boisterous local support Wafer initially lined out in the centre position in order to nullify a potential Italian midfield bust only for the Italian line out to malfunction before any planned move could take place. Her first piece of International action came soon afterwards with a nice first carry taking two to stop her. Her next carry ended with no gain and a bit of a welcome to international standard rugby, but she nonetheless controlled possession well for the next Irish phased attack.
Aoife’s third attack was a good one again taking the attention of two to haul her down. Unfortunately, and rather harshly, Wafer was unfortunately sin-binned for an awkward ruck clear out.
Personally, I thought it was another Irish player that caused the danger to the Italian player, but sadly the young Wexford native received a yellow card and was sent to the stands.
Ten minutes elapsed and Aoife wanted to make up for lost time making some hard yards on her Resumption to the game. She then brilliantly tackled an opposition player and not only did this but immediately got to her feet and tried to steal the ball from the Italian. A penalty was awarded to Wafer for the Italian holding on at the breakdown.
Knowing how hurt she was for the binning, her teammates celebrated this great piece of play like it was a try scored.
The Ireland women’s team in the end recorded a comfortable 29-8 victory with 5 tries being scored. All in all, Aoife will be delighted with her first cap at only nineteen and will take the many positives from her performances.
We wish her well on her journey as an Irish international rugby player.
By Byron Jones
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