Defending champions Munster and their closest rivals in recent years, Leinster, posted opening round wins in the IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship over the weekend. Read on for a full round-up.
MUNSTER 22 CONNACHT 7, Musgrave Park
Scorers: Munster: Tries: Geraldine Rea, Sarah Jane Cody, Mairead Kelly, Olivia Stapleton; Con: Niamh Briggs
Connacht: Try: Emma Cleary; Con: Ailish Toner
John O’Sullivan’s tenure as Munster Women’s head coach got off to winning start as his side ran out 22-7 winners over a game Connacht outfit at Musgrave Park.
Centre duo Geraldine Rea and Mairead Kelly crossed the visitors’ whitewash, as did wingers Sarah Jane Cody and Olivia Stapleton.
Niamh Briggs, one of Ireland’s stars at the recent World Cup, started at full-back and kicked a conversion.
Connacht, who were captained by Ireland international Carol Staunton, replied with a try from winger Emma Cleary and a conversion from scrum half Ailish Toner.
Title holders Munster will make the trip to Ravenhill next weekend to face an Ulster side smarting from a 30-3 first round defeat to Leinster.
Munster: Niamh Briggs; Olivia Stapleton, Mairead Kelly, Geraldine Rea, Sarah Jane Cody: Helen Brosnan (capt), Louise Beamish; Laura Guest, Chris Fanning,Gillian Bourke, Karen Casey, Heather O’Brien, Louise Austin, Siobhan Fleming, Helen Jones.
Replacements: Kate Sheehan, Fiona Reidy, Maeve Darcy, Orla Buckley, Clara Bracken, Amanda Greensmith, Nicola Scully.
Connacht: Grainne Egan; Emma Cleary, Nuala Ni Chadhain, Christine Arthurs, Anne O’Callaghan; Clare Rafferty, Ailish Toner; Jean Moore, Tosh Haywood, Ruth O’Reilly, Heather Carey, Niamh Dempsey, Maire Murray, Niamh Fitzgerald, Carol Staunton (capt).
Replacements (from): Edel Durkin, Samantha Lulham, Maire Hanley, Sarah Hogan, Cliona Hughes, Hortense de Burdoncle de Saint Salvy, Yvonne Delaney, Sarah Healy.
LEINSTER 30 ULSTER 3, Donnybrook
Scorers: Leinster: Tries: Yvonne Nolan, Ciara Kennedy, Sinead Ryan, Tammy Breen, Deirdre O’Brien; Con: Nora Stapleton; Pen: Nora Stapleton
Ulster: Pen: Grace Davitt
New Ulster out-half Grace Davitt lined out against her native province at Donnybrook, where two new coaches at this level, Leinster’s Dan van Zyl and Benjy Van Der Byl of Ulster, went head to head.
Retirements and injuries saw Leinster field a much-changed team, while Ulster’s starting line-up also had a fresh look to it. Indeed, the visitors had ten players making their interpro debuts.
Leinster set out their stall with an early try from hooke Yvonne Nolan and while hard-working Ulster responded courtesy of a penalty from Davitt, the hosts soon broke into a 13-3 lead for half-time.
Nolan’s try, adding to an earlier penalty from centre Nora Stapleton, nudged Leinster ahead on the scoreboard, before the Ulster pack won a penalty which Davitt converted.
Unfortunately for the Ulster fans present, including Ireland’s Tommy Bowe, Van Der Byl’s charges failed to score after that.
Midway through the first half, Ulster lost their Ireland-capped full-back Eliza Downey to injury and Leinster took advantage of the disruption to the visitors, putting winger Ciara Kennedy over for an unconverted try.
A powerful drive from the home forwards laid the platform for Leinster captain Sinead Ryan to plunge over for her side’s third try, and two more followed from winger Tammy Breen and lock Deirdre O’Brien in a one-sided second half.
Breen’s try was the best of the lot as a combination of impressive rolling mauls and quick ball culminated in an excellent back-line move sparked by out-half Shannon Houston and Stapleton, and Breen supplied a clinical finish.
Ulster had some terrific individual displays from the likes of skipper Lizzie Ballentine, scrum half Imogen Porter and their Ireland prop Lauren Day.
However, there was no doubting that Leinster were best on the day and a long range Amy Davis-inspired attack and some quick recycling teeing up O’Brien for a fitting final try close to the posts.
Leinster: Gill Nolan; Tammy Breen, Nora Stapleton, Michelle Ross, Ciara Kennedy; Shannon Houston, Amy Davis; Fiona Coghlan, Yvonne Nolan, Emer McManamly, Orla Fitzsimons, Deirdre O’Brien, Carmela Morey, Laura Haley, Sinead Ryan (capt).
Replacements: Ailish Egan, Sarah Crosby, Sheena Moore, Chrissie O’Reilly, Fionnuala Gleeson, Paula Firzpatrick, Katie Fitzhenry.
Ulster: Eliza Downey; Teah Maguire, Claire McLaughlin, Laura Nicholl, Laura Stewart; Grace Davitt, Imogen Porter; Lizzie Ballentine (capt), Stacey Lea Kennedy, Lauren Day, Glenda Mellon, Christina McDowell, Claire Knipe, Shirelle Wilson, Nikita Armstrong.
Replacements: Hilary Quinn, Lucy Fagan, Nicola Dickson, Brigid Reynolds, Zoe Templeton, Kelly Holmes, Alana McCaffrey.
2010/11 IRFU WOMEN’S INTERPROVINCIAL RESULTS/FIXTURES –
Saturday, November 6:
Munster 22 Connacht 7, Musgrave Park
Sunday, November 7:
Leinster 30 Ulster 3, Donnybrook
Saturday, November 13:
Ulster v Munster, Ravenhill, 1.30pm
Connacht v Leinster, the Sportsground, 2.30pm
Sunday, November 28:
Connacht v Ulster, the Sportsground, 2.30pm
Leinster v Munster, Donnybrook, 1pm (tbc)
Saturday, December 4:
Finals, Leinster venue (tbc)