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Stars Of The Future Shine In U-18 Girls Interpro Development Games

Stars Of The Future Shine In U-18 Girls Interpro Development Games

The Under-18 Girls Interprovincial Development matches took place over the last two weeks with all four provinces featuring well. The purpose of these games is to expose players to a higher level of training and competition in order to further develop their playing ability.

The four provinces first came together for a blitz day at Westmanstown RFC in Co. Dublin on Saturday, September 26.

Connacht came up against Leinster in their first game. The Leinster girls exerted a lot of pressure from the start, but handling errors and a firm Connacht defence kept them out.

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The stalemate was broken in the 10th minute after a great break by Tullow player Bethany Sharpe was followed by a try from Wicklow’s Ciara Patrick. Connacht fought back on the restart and were just held up on the 15th minute. The score remained 5-0 to Leinster at half-time.

Leinster upped the tempo on the resumption, with plenty of attacking runs and improved passing. Under increased pressure, Connacht had a player sent to the sin-bin and conceded two more tries, leaving the final scoreline 21-0.

The second game of the day saw Ulster take on Munster. Ulster started brightly, however the experienced Munster team soon got to grips with the play and crossed the whitewash twice without reply for a 10-0 result.

In the third fixture, Munster returned to the pitch after a short break to play Leinster. The quick turnaround may have proved difficult for the Munster girls who conceded a try early on when Leinster’s Louise Scully broke the defensive line to set up Ireland U-18 Sevens international Eimear Corri to score in the opening minutes.

Munster fought back and won a kickable penalty which Enya Breen fired through the posts. However, Leinster continued to exert the pressure and scored two more tries before the break through Patrick and Megan Burns.

The second half saw Munster make immediate improvements which saw the impressive Yvonne O’Shea touch down. Both teams then traded tries with Burns getting her second followed by O’Shea. The sides swapped tries again before the final whistle, leaving the scoreline 27-18 in Leinster’s favour.

Connacht and Ulster went up against each other in the last clash of the day. Ulster captain Neve Jones (pictured above) scored her side’s first try of the day, five minutes in. Ulster held onto this lead with the score 5-0 at half-time.

But Connacht soon bounced back at the start of the second half with Sarah Walsh touching down for the westerners. Grainne Lohan converted to make it 7-5.

Ulster managed to reply, though, scoring the final try of the day when Claire Boles broke through the Connacht line to touch down. Leah McGoldrick’s successful conversion completed the scoring at 12-7 to Ulster.

Meanwhile, the follow-up matches took place last Saturday with Ulster hosting Leinster and Connacht hosting Munster.

Leinster travelled to Portadown RFC, hoping to make it a clean sweep of victories, while Ulster were looking to build on the result against Connacht and avenge a narrow loss to Leinster from last year.

However, it was the visitors who broke the deadlock first with Portlaoise clubwoman Corri finding space down the wing to score Leinster’s first try after nice build-up play from full-back Katie Heffernan and centre Kayleigh Sullivan. Liz Brophy added the conversion.

Numerous errors from Ulster allowed Mary Healy to score Leinster’s second try. Again Brophy was accurate with the boot, leaving the half-time scoreline 14-0 in Leinster’s favour.

Ulster gifted Leinster further penalties at the start of the second half which resulted in scrum half Hannah Rose Buckley crossing the whitewash with Brophy converting once more.

However, Ulster began to turn the tide and their sustained pressure was rewarded with tries from Sara Whitley and Boles. Dolores Hughes landed both conversions to bring Ulster back in contention. Unfortunately for the hosts, they were unable to cross the whitewash again, resulting in a 21-14 win for Leinster.

Munster made the long trip north to Westport RFC for their final outing against a determined Connacht side. Connacht were disappointed with their results from the previous week. Having lost both games to Leinster and Ulster, the girls in green knew they were due a big performance.

The first try was scored by Mairead Hopkins who was enjoying her positional switch from centre to the back row. Munster hit back almost immediately, but the Connacht heads did not drop and three more tries were scored before half-time – two more from the unstoppable Hopkins for her hat-trick and one from Westport’s Niamh O’Grady.

Now leading 20-5, Connacht started the second period where they had left off with a fourth try from the excellent Hopkins, who recently played for the Ireland U-18 Girls Sevens side at the European Championship in Liege.

Munster were starting to kick into gear, though, and they scored a converted try to close the gap to 25-12. The visitors notched a third try to set up a grandstand finish, before Connacht’s Grainne Hamill touched down to give Connacht a hard-earned 30-17 triumph.


WEEK 1 – Westmanstown RFC, Saturday, September 26

Leinster 21 Connacht 0
Ulster 0 Munster 10
Munster 18 Leinster 27
Ulster 12 Connacht 7

WEEK 2 – Saturday, October 3

Connacht 30 Munster 17, Westport RFC
Ulster 14 Leinster 21, Portadown RFC


Ulster: Leah McGoldrick
Leinster: Liz Brophy
Munster: Yvonne O’Shea
Connacht: Mairead Hopkins