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IRFU Junior Interpros: Round 1 Review

IRFU Junior Interpros: Round 1 Review

Leinster are the early pacesetters in the IRFU Junior Interprovincial Championship following an impressive 34-17 bonus point victory away to Connacht. Defending champions Ulster also enjoyed a winning start with a 24-0 defeat of Munster in rain-hit Cork.


Scorers: Munster: –
Ulster: Tries: Alan Whitley, Sam Mackey, Bradley Luney; Cons: Lee Steenson 2, Martin Connolly; Pen: Lee Steenson

HT: Munster 0 Ulster 10

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Munster and Ireland legend Peter Stringer, who officially opened Muskerry RFC’s new pitch and facilities, was part of a large crowd in attendance for this Junior Interpro opener. Unfortunately the first half was marred by heavy rain and hail showers.

In very testing conditions, it was Ulster who got off to a flying start with a try straight from a five-metre lineout. There were only three minutes on the clock when Carrickfergus hooker Alan Whitley was mauled over the line, with Dromore’s Lee Steenson adding a terrific conversion from the left touchline.

Munster dominated possession for large periods of the opening quarter, with Muskerry’s own Dan Horgan and Tom O’Callaghan from Mitchelstown looking dangerous with ball in hand, but slopping passing and knock-ons did not help the hosts’ cause.

Thurles clubman John Lillis was off target with two long-range penalty attempts after 18 and 27 minutes, and the Ulster pack worked hard to get their side on the front foot again. A brilliant break from UUC lock Oliver Millar was followed by some patient build-up play in scoring range and after a penalty was awarded, scrum half Steenson’s accurate 33rd-minute strike made it 10-0 to the visitors for half-time.

Steenson missed a late penalty attempt before the break, pushing his kick just wide, and when played resumed, the improved weather conditions allowed both teams to expand their game. Munster had the early momentum with an increased tempo and intensity, yet they were denied close to the Ulster line by two superb tackles by Bokkie Carstens and Millar.

Kicking well for position and maintaining a low penalty count, Ulster managed to add to their tally thanks to another dynamic maul which led to replacement Sam Mackey touching down. Steenson added the extras from wide on the left for a 17-0 scoreline.

There was a third and final try in the very last play, young Carrickfergus lock Bradley Luney showing great footwork to evade two tackles close to the whitewash and score underneath the posts. Randalstown centre Martin Connolly stepped up to convert and complete a comprehensive win on the road for Richard Boyd’s charges.

Giving his reaction afterwards, Ulster head coach Boyd admitted: “We’re really pleased to get a win and even more delighted to keep a clean sheet against a big and physical Munster side. I thought we adapted to the poor conditions really well and our pack laid the foundations for the result today.

“We pride ourselves on our defence and discipline, and I think we had the edge in both areas. The players are looking forward to next Saturday’s game in Ards and we know Connacht will provide another tough test, so we can’t afford to relax and must step up our performance again and build upon this momentum.”

– Photos by Fergal O’Callaghan

MUNSTER: Derry O’Connor (Abbeyfeale); Dan Horgan (Muskerry), Eoin O’Dwyer (Thurles), Tom O’Callaghan (Mitchelstown), Warren Kelly (St. Senan’s); John Lillis (Thurles), Sean Herlihy (Newcastle West); Mark Corby (Clonmel), Mike Cronin (Castleisland), Dave O’Gorman (Clonmel), Sean Walsh (Clanwilliam), Brendan Childs (Galbally) (capt), Tony Cantwell (Clonmel), Oisin Walsh (Galbally), Kieran Downey (Castleisland).

Replacements: Niall Campion (Clonmel), Danny Lambe (Fethard), Martin Muldoon (Muskerry), Luke Kelly (Thurles), Diarmuid Devaney (Clonmel), Conor Cremin (Kanturk), Paul Loughran (St. Mary’s), Keith McManus (St. Mary’s).

ULSTER: Michael Orr (Portadown); Thomas Hunter (Ballymoney), Phil Cartmill (Cooke), Martin Connolly (Randalstown), Brian McClearn (Dromore); Bokkie Carstens (Coleraine), Lee Steenson (Dromore); David McKeen (Carrickfergus), Alan Whitley (Carrickfergus), Paul Greenaway (Carrickfergus), Oliver Millar (UUC), Bradley Luney (Carrickfergus), Steven Dickey (Coleraine), Andy McKeen (Carrickfergus) (capt), David Clarke (Ballyclare).

Replacements: Stuart Smyth (Grosvenor), Aaron Kilpatrick (CIYMS), Dean Jones (Ballyclare), Ross Bingham (Dromore), Sam Mackey (Limavady), Jason Gilliland (CIYMS), Ryan Garrett (Larne), Mark Wylie (Academy).

Scorers: Connacht: Tries: Rob Holian 2; Cons: Ryan Guilfoyle 2; Pen: Ryan Guilfoyle
Leinster: Tries: Derek Williams, Corey Carty 2, Kieran O’Gorman, Joe Gorman; Cons: Gearoid McDonald 3; Pen: Gearoid McDonald

HT: Connacht 10 Leinster 26

Wexford Wanderers winger Corey Carty transferred his club form onto the interprovincial stage as his two tries helped Leinster to record a deserved 34-17 bonus point victory over Connacht at Ballinrobe RFC on Saturday afternoon.

The visitors’ firepower allowed them to build an early lead and they were 26-10 to the good by half-time. Dundalk winger Derek Williams opened the scoring with a try converted by his club-mate Gearoid McDonald, before Connacht scrum half Ryan Guilfoyle replied with a 10th minute penalty.

The dry and sunny conditions suited both sides as they looked to play with pace and width and present scoring opportunities for the outside backs. The Leinster back-line proved to be clinical and Carty, who caught the eye in both defence and attack, crossed in the 14th minute for try number two.

After a defence spell of possession, Connacht coughed up the ball and leaked another score in the 25th minute when a free-flowing move sent Carty over out wide to complete his brace. Leinster captain Kieran O’Gorman got on the scoresheet with the bonus point score with four minutes left in the half.

Connacht showed their resilience and claimed a timely try just before the interval. Ballinrobe clubman Rob Holian delighted the local support when he went in under the posts after not being held in a tackle 15 metres out. He regained his feet to run in a much-needed seven-pointer, cutting the gap to 26-10.

Led by captain Rory Grenham from Buccaneers, Connacht were the better team in the second period, forcing Leinster to defend wave after wave of attacks, but they could not convert the pressure into points. An early penalty from vice-captain McDonald kept the scoreboard ticking over for the men in blue.

The fired-up westerners had all of the territory now, with Leinster rarely getting out of their own half, and influential second row Holian completed his brace with another well-taken try in the 59th minute. Guilfoyle’s conversion had the margin down 29-17.

However, Enda Finn’s Leinster side had the final say when breaking through for their fifth try of the afternoon in the last minute. County Carlow clubman Joe Gorman came off the bench to power over from a well-executed lineout maul, giving the visitors a double-scores success – 34-17.

CONNACHT: Dean McMahon (Buccaneers); James Kennedy (NUIG), Matthew Mannion (Monivea), Daniel Keane (Ballinrobe), Tom Staunton (Ballinrobe); Niall Gray (Sligo), Ryan Guilfoyle (NUIG): Aidan Leech (Creggs), Rory Grenham (Buccaneers) (capt), Ryan O’Meara (Buccaneers), Rob Holian (Ballinrobe), Eddie Dunning (Westport), Rossa Dooley (Buccaneers), Stephen Joyce (Monivea), Roy Stanley (NUIG).

Replacements: Ger Fahy (Monivea), Padraic Mannion (Monivea), Michael McColgan (NUIG), Vinny Lally (Monivea), Ross Hickey (Buccaneers), Alan Brandon (Creggs), Luke Staunton (Castlebar), Jack Rowland (Castlebar).

LEINSTER: Dan Costello (Monkstown); Derek Williams (Dundalk), Mikey Russell (Clondalkin), Matt Stapleton (Clondalkin), Corey Carty (Wexford Wanderers); Gearoid McDonald (Dundalk), Stephen Horan (Gorey); John Grey (Dundalk), Sean Arrowsmith (Dundalk), Robert Farrell (Dundalk), Wes Carter (Kilkenny), Benny McManus (Longford), Kieran O’Gorman (Longford) (capt), Karl Keogh (Boyne), Tom Satchwell (North Kildare).

Replacements: Joe Gorman (County Carlow), Dylan Quinn (Longford), Morgan Merriman (De La Salle Palmerston), Tom Brady (Clondalkin), Tom Barron (Clane), Conor McCrossan (North Kildare), Paul O’Connor (Gorey), Stephen Duffy (Wicklow).


Saturday, May 5 –

LEINSTER (1st) v MUNSTER (4th), Coolmine RFC, 2.30pm

ULSTER (2nd) v CONNACHT (3rd), Ards RFC, 2.30pm

Related Links –

IRFU Junior Interpro Results/Fixtures

IRFU Junior Interpro Table