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Leinster Juniors Are Crowned Interpro Champions

Leinster Juniors Are Crowned Interpro Champions

Leinster followed up on their wins over Munster and Connacht with a 21-21 draw away to Ulster on Saturday to claim the IRFU Junior Interprovincial Championship for the first time since 2010.



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Scorers: Ulster: Tries: Gary Clotworthy, Jamie Johnston; Con: Jason Morgan; Pens: Gary Clotworthy 3
Leinster: Tries: Stephen McGee, Niall O’Donoghue, Jonathan Williams; Cons: Bill Duggan 3

MUNSTER 21 CONNACHT 16, Presentation RFC

Scorers: Munster: Tries: Stuart Lee, Dan McCabe, Johnny O’Sullivan; Cons: Mark Healy 3
Connacht: Sean Connolly, Darren Griffin; Pens: Coleman Maher 2

Leinster lifted the McGee Cup for the first time since 2010 after a fractious encounter at Dromore RFC in County Down in their final game of the Junior Interprovincial Championship.

Ulster almost snatched the silverware, but a resolute Leinster side showed great character to come from behind to tie the encounter at 21-all by the final whistle.

In a game that saw them having to deal with four yellow cards over the course of 80 minutes, the odds were very much against the visitors right up to the end, but the fighting spirit that has been a part of this team was very much on display.

At one point there were three Leinster players and an Ulsterman in the sin-bin. Ulster had to cope with a reduction in numbers on two occasions, but the Blues had to finish the game out with 14 after a second yellow turned red.

Following an opening 20 minutes littered with errors Leinster knuckled down and gave a performance worthy of their champions status.

Two early penalties from three attempts by Ulster centre Gary Clotworthy were negated by a fine 20th minute try from the visiting full-back Stephen McGee.

Ballyclare’s Clotworthy then put his side in pole position by finishing a good backs movement under the posts and a further penalty left his side with a half-time advantage of 14-7.

For the hosts’ opening try Cooke full-back Ashley Finlay made a searing break down the left touchline before finding club-mate Phil Cartmill, who linked with Jason Morgan to put Clotworthy over.

Capitalising on their powerful scrum early in the second half, Ulster pushed 14 points clear as number 8 Jamie Johnston capitalised on one such set piece to crash over in the 45th minute. However, Leinster showed great resilience to claw back that deficit.

Tries from winger Niall O’Donoghue and centre Jonathan Williams accompanied by conversions from Bill Duggan left it all-square at the conclusion.

Clotworthy did have a late penalty opportunity which would have handed Ulster the win and the Championship title, but his effort drifted just wide.

The weather and early nerves may have dampened matters, but this turned out to be a very memorable spectacle and a fittingly exciting conclusion to the 2014 tournament.

Meanwhile, Munster trailed 13-0 at one stage before taking control of their final round game against Connacht at Presentation RFC.

The men in red had second half tries from Kanturk duo Dan McCabe and Johnny O’Sullivan with their club-mate Mark Healy converting both, edging them towards a 21-16 success.

Munster’s second win of the campaign, coupled with Ulster’s draw, saw them finish as runners-up. It was a gritty comeback from the hosts who were without their cup final-tied players from Clanwilliam, Clonmel, St. Mary’s and Cobh Pirates.