The Munster Women’s team claimed the Interprovincial title at the Sportsground in Galway on Saturday afternoon, beating Leinster 11-10 in an extremely tight final. Read on for a round-up of the action.
2007/08 WOMEN’S INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Saturday, October 27
MUNSTER 11 LEINSTER 10, The Sportsground
After a first half in which neither side could break the deadlock, the second period was where all the action took place with both sides scoring a try apiece and Leinster having the chance to win the game in the last minute with a penalty kick.
In that first 40 minutes, Julie Craig impressed for Leinster at out-half while her opposite number Nicole Fitzgerald used the wind well for Munster to get in some good pressure-relieving kicks.
Centre Helen Brosnan made a crucial intercept towards the end of the half when a Leinster try seemed certain after Grace Davitt found herself in space and though they did not score, it was Leinster who looked most likely to take the lead as they headed into the turnaround with the advantage of the wind.
Davitt eventually put them in front with a penalty, but Munster did well to work themselves back upfield where Fitzgerald levelled matters soon after. Leinster looked on top at scrum time, with Munster no doubt feeling the loss of captain Marie Barrett, who failed a fitness test before the game.
A try seemed certain for Leinster as they pushed hard in attack and it came through the excellent Craig, when she linked up with Orla Brennan from a scrum. A mix-up between Amanda Greensmith and Mairead Kelly at the back had forced the good position for Leinster and they took advantage with Davitt then adding the conversion for a 10-3 lead.
Fitzgerald was forced off injured but Clonmel’s Niamh Briggs came into the fray and made a huge contribution. Her booming boot really helped Munster as she was also a threat in attack and she added a penalty to Munster’s tally to close the gap.
Towards the end of the game Munster became more dominant and eventually forced a try after a number of assaults on the Leinster line. It was hooker Jean Lonergan who dived over to take Munster ahead by a point. At the death, Davitt had a chance to win the game for Leinster from a long range penalty but her miss meant that the title was Munster’s for the second year in a row.
3RD/4TH PLACE PLAY-OFF –
CONNACHT 17 ULSTER 15, The Sportsground
In the earlier game of finals day in Galway, Connacht beat Ulster 17-15 to nab third spot in the competition. Led by captain Emer O’Dowd, Connacht proved to be the more dominant team during the play-off, but Ulster were the first to score with a well-placed chip over the top leading to a try.
Connacht were not to be held back and drove forward after the restart. Their efforts resulted in a touchdown for Tandy Johnson, bringing the score to 5-5.
Ulster hit back with another try just before half-time but Connacht took charge at the start of the second half with a lineout driven over and dotted down. Ulster piled on the pressure on the Connacht line, and while the westerners’ defence held strong, eventually Ulster spotted a gap on the wing and took their chance. The score put them 15-10 in front.
With time running out, Connacht threw everything they had left into the game and were camped on the Ulster line, going through at least ten phases before scrum half Sorcha Ni Chadhain flicked it out the line and centre Catriona Ni Chaba skipped past the Ulster defence to score.
Ireland international Nuala Ni Chadhain stepped up to take the conversion which floated over to a huge cheer from the home fans.