18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Saturday, May 7 -
ULSTER 26 MUNSTER 24, Limavady RFC
LEINSTER 14 CONNACHT 20, Donnybrook
Connacht coaches Seamus King and Eddie Walsh will have been been delighted with the commitment and composure shown by their side in Saturday's second round win over Leinster.
Sligo's Paddy Pearson, who impressed in the second half against Ulster, started at Donnybrook and kicked a penalty on the quarter hour mark to put Connacht ahead.
Winger Rory O'Connor from Monivea, Connacht's two-try hero in the victory over Ulster, then scored his third try of the competition. The westerners attacked brilliantly through Pearson who found a hole in the Leinster defence and he passed for O'Connor to touch down in the corner.
Pearson followed up with a terrific conversion from the touchline, making it 10-0 to the visitors after just 19 minutes' play.
With Connacht's scrum one of their strongest areas, they continued to threaten and Leinster leaked a second try shortly before the break. O'Connor again showed his finishing skills, notching an unconverted effort to take his side into a commanding 15-0 lead.
Leinster were stung into action and although Aaron Spring produced a try-saving tackle for Connacht on the cusp of half-time, the hosts did manage to cross the whitewash just two minutes into the second half.
They worked an overlap for Portarlington winger Dave Murphy to score and the conversion from Boyne's Bryan Croke cut the gap to eight points.
Leinster enjoyed a purple patch while Connacht lock Willie Parker was in the sin-bin. However, Croke missed a penalty and his replacement Ivan Poole was also off target from kickable range.
Declan O'Brien's Blues were enjoying more possession and territory, yet Connacht caused problems for them in the set piece and defended tigerishly.
With six minutes left, Connacht struck for the clinching score. Corrib hooker Martin Lee broke through from a lineout and well-orchestrated maul to set up replacement Dave Hansberry for a try in the corner.
Leinster hit back with a late converted effort from replacement Ben Swindlehurst, but the victory was a deserved one for this talented Connacht outfit who could secure silverware on home soil next Saturday.
Meanwhile, Munster, who are Galway-bound next weekend, fell to their second defeat in this year's Championship - going down 26-24 to a fired-up Ulster side.
Tries from Ryan Wilson (Clogher Valley) and Stephen Robinson (Dromore) saw Ulster canter ahead in the opening stages, with Armagh's Johnny Steenson converting both tries.
Munster, who had to delay naming their team due to injuries, narrowed the gap with a penalty from Kanturk's Dara Meade and a well-taken try from Dermot O'Sullivan of Tralee.
But Ulster finished off the first half's scoring with a third try from Cooke's Andy Kennedy, giving Jacques Benade's men a 19-10 interval advantage.
Ulster got their bonus point score five minutes after the break, with scrum half Matt Wright claiming it. Tralee's Brian O'Sullivan crossed for two converted tries with Ulster down to 14 men, but they were the final scores of what was a good advert for junior rugby in both provinces.
NEXT WEEK'S FIXTURES:
Saturday, May 14 -
CONNACHT v MUNSTER, the Sportsground (OLBC RFC), 2.30pm
LEINSTER v ULSTER, Coolmine RFC, 2.30pm
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