Munster ended their Under-18 Clubs Interprovincial Championship campaign on a high by being crowned champions, following an action-packed 33-29 bonus point win over Leinster at Donnybrook.
IRFU UNDER-18 CLUBS INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – ROUND 3: Saturday, September 23
LEINSTER U-18 CLUBS 29 MUNSTER U-18 CLUBS 33, Donnybrook
Scorers: Leinster U-18 Clubs: Tries: Karl Martin, Sean Wafer, Barry Ryan, Luis Faria, Josh O’Connor; Cons: Shane Murphy 2
Munster U-18 Clubs: Tries: Patrick Scully, Ben Daly, Seaghan Walsh, Jamie Shanahan 2; Cons: Conor O’Brien 2, Ben Daly 2
HT: Leinster U-18 Clubs 19 Munster U-18 Clubs 14
The Bank of Ireland-sponsored Leinster boys fell agonisingly short of their goal in losing out to Munster in a thrill-a-minute U18 Clubs Championship decider at Donnybrook on Saturday.
The dominance of defence was reflected in the number of errors forced and unforced as Leinster enjoyed possession without points in the opening five minutes.
Slower to settle, Munster’s Thomas Ahern looked a safe bet out of touch and his take from hooker Padraig McCarthy’s throw was the basis for a maul that got close.
Leinster turned over the ball for out-half Paddy McKenzie to clear his lines.
But, neat interplay from Munster at the front of the lineout required scrum-half Shane Murphy to bump McCarthy into touch.
Leinster wing Sean Wafer had to be textbook in the tackle to stop Chimdi Oji.
The danger returned when Munster lock Eoin O’Connor nicked a lineout to instigate a determined attack for lock Ahern to put centre Patrick Scully over on the left.
Full-back Conor O’Brien converted for 7-0 in the 18th minute.
Leinster’s response was swift retribution as they reclaimed the restart and an innocuous midfield move put centre Luis Faria on the ball.
He was able to shake off a tackle to slip an inside ball to his partner Karl Martin to fly to the posts for scrum-half Shane Murphy, levelling it in the 22nd-minute.
This gave the home side instant energy, their captain Luke Thompson blocking down out-half Ben Daly to set in motion a period of pressure that concluded with Wafer reaching for the line.
It wasn’t long before the men from the south were ahead again when Daly stepped up to intercept his opposite number McKenzie, racing for the posts for O’Brien to make it 14-12 on the half-hour.
The to-and-fro continued when Leinster lock Sam Porter pinched a lineout, Fionn Gilbert straightened the line, Martin was smart in possession and hooker Barry Ryan’s timing onto the ball was worthy of his try, converted by Murphy for 19-14 at the break.
Munster flanker Evan Murphy got immediately back up to speed by retrieving a high ball and forcing Martin into emergency service to save a perilous situation.
Still, Munster moved with menace for blindside Seaghan Walsh to crash to the posts, Daly’s conversion good for the lead in the 40th-minute.
It got even better when wing Chimdi Oji prompted a fine counter and Daly’s crossfield ball fell into the grateful arms of centre Jamie Shanahan.
Daly’s magnificent touchline conversion made it 28-19 in the 43rd-minute.
The skill levels were a joy to behold, Leinster lock Gilbert’s offload creating the space for Faria to sprint over for 28-24 in the 46th-minute.
A pre-planned move worked to perfection when McKenzie released Josh O’Connor for the wing to come off his left foot for a superb try and a one-point lead in the 51st minute.
Then, Munster were aided by a poor pass which hopped up into the hands of Shanahan, who used Oji as a decoy before rolling out of the tackle of full-back Diarmuid Egan for 33-29 in the 56th minute.
When Leinster came hunting, flanker Murphy was there to snuff out the attack.
Captain Thompson’s tackle and replacement Robert Murphy’s excellent steal put Leinster in the right area.
Daly picked off another intercept only to be tracked down by Martin as the hectic pace of the game was maintained.
The clock was winding down when a number of scrum resets took the steam out of the game.
Leinster’s second to last chance came down to a well-executed move with McBrien’s kick just tumbling out of reach.
They came again, hooker Ryan almost breaking the game open in the face of fierce resistance before Munster hooker McCarthy stole the ball to seal the deal.
LEINSTER U-18 CLUBS: Diarmuid Egan (Tullamore RFC); Josh O’Connor (Wexford Wanderers RFC), Luis Faria (Wanderers RFC), Karl Martin (Boyne RFC), Sean Wafer (Gorey RFC); Paddy McKenzie (Wicklow RFC), Shane Murphy (Skerries RFC); Marcus Hanan (Clane RFC), Barry Ryan (Wexford Wanderers RFC), Charlie Ward (Tullow RFC), Fionn Gilbert (Clontarf RFC), Sam Porter (Wicklow RFC), Brian Deeney (Wexford Wanderers RFC), Luke Thompson (Wicklow RFC) (capt), Tadgh Butler (Kilkenny RFC).
Replacements: Michael Power (Clontarf RFC), Mark Nicholson (Wicklow RFC), Jordan Kelly (Enniscorthy RFC), Robert Murphy (Gorey RFC), Jack Ussher (Suttonians RFC), Adam Nealon (De La Salle Palmerston FC), Thomas McBrien (Skerries RFC), Cathal Farrell (Tullamore RFC).
MUNSTER U-18 CLUBS: Conor O’Brien (Nenagh Ormond RFC/Nenagh CBS); Chimdi Oji (Douglas RFC/Douglas Community School), Patrick Scully (Fethard RFC/Thurles CBS), Jamie Shanahan (Skibbereen RFC/Skibbereen CS), David McNamara (Ennis RFC/Ennistymon Tech); Ben Daly (Waterpark RFC/Ard Scoil Na Mhara, Tramore), Kevin O’Connor (Cashel RFC/Cashel Community School); Conor Morrissey (Cork Constitution FC/Mayfield Community School), Padraig McCarthy (Bantry Bay RFC/Colaiste Pobail, Bheanntraí), Daragh Fitzgerald (Rugbaí Corca Dhuibhne/Pobailscoil, Corca Dhuibhne), Thomas Ahern (Dungarvan RFC/St. Augustine’s Dungarvan), Eoin O’Connor (Waterpark RFC/Gaelcholaiste Phortlairge), Seaghán Walsh (Waterford City RFC/De La Salle College, Waterford), Evan Murphy (Nenagh Ormond RFC/Nenagh CBS) (capt), Mark Stafford (Midleton RFC/Midleton College).
Replacements: Harry Jephson (Waterpark RFC/Newtown School, Waterford), Ciaran Bohane (Ballincollig RFC/Gaelcholaiste Choilm), Shane O’Driscoll (Midleton RFC/Midleton College), Oisín Cooke (Garryowen FC/Villiers School), Jack O’Keeffe (Nenagh Ormond RFC/Nenagh CBS), Kevin O’Connor (Cashel RFC/Cashel Community School), Alan Kiely (St. Mary’s RFC/Colaiste Chiarain, Croom), Ciaran Evans (Midleton RFC/Midleton CBS), Jay Traynor (Waterpark RFC/De La Salle Waterford).
Referee: Rob Watson (IRFU)
ULSTER U-18 CLUBS 8 CONNACHT U-18 CLUBS 14, City of Armagh RFC
Scorers: Ulster U-18 Clubs: Try: ; Pen:
Connacht U-18 Clubs: Tries: Cian Scanlon, Nathan Horan; Cons:
HT: Ulster U-18 Clubs 0 Connacht U-18 Clubs 0
CHAMPIONSHIP’S TOP SCORERS:
21 – Shane Murphy (Leinster)
19 – Conor O’Brien (Munster)
10 – Fionn Gilbert (Leinster), Matthew Jungmann (Leinster), Charlie Ward (Leinster)
7 – Karl Martin (Leinster), Paddy McKenzie (Leinster)
2 – Fionn Gilbert (Leinster), Matthew Jungmann (Leinster), Charlie Ward (Leinster)
1 – Billy McVann (Connacht), Darragh Hanrahan (Connacht), Matthew Jungmann (Leinster), Diarmuid Egan (Leinster), Josh O’Connor (Leinster), Jordan Kelly (Leinster), Karl Martin (Leinster), Paddy McKenzie (Leinster), Luis Faria (Leinster), Charlie O’Doherty (Munster), David McNamara (Munster), Ben Daly (Munster), Patrick Scully (Munster), Thomas Ahern (Munster), Daragh Fitzgerald (Munster), Conor O’Brien (Munster), Jamie Shanahan (Munster), Niall Preston (Ulster)