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IRFU Junior Interpros: Round 2 Review

IRFU Junior Interpros: Round 2 Review

Just one point separates Leinster and Ulster at the top of the IRFU Junior Interprovincial Championship table heading into the final round. Both teams are two for two after triumphing at Coolmine and Ards Rugby Clubs respectively last weekend.


Scorers: Leinster: Tries: Mikey Russell, Cathal Bannon, Derek Williams, Stephen Horan; Cons: Gearoid McDonald 2; Pen: Gearoid McDonald
Munster: Tries: Eoin O’Dwyer 2; Pens: Conor Cremin, Sean Herlihy

HT: Leinster 10 Munster 5

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Despite falling behind early on, the Leinster Juniors outlasted Munster in very warm conditions at Coolmine RFC where they picked up their second successive bonus point win of the campaign. It was four tries to two at the end of a fiercely-contested and entertaining game.

The Munstermen, who had lost 24-0 to Ulster, started off the livelier and dominated both territory and possession early on, which resulted in Luke Hogan putting fellow Tipperary centre Eoin O’Dwyer over after just four minutes. The conversion was missed but Munster tails were up and they had laid down an early marker.

Enda Finn’s Leinster side struck back just three minutes later with a well-taken long range penalty from Dundalk’s Gearoid McDonald, but the physicality of the Munster pack, coupled with Derry O’Connor’s tactical kicking, continually put Leinster under pressure. The visitors had a second shot at the posts but missed it.

Leinster also had a missed penalty as their backs and forwards began to fire. A terrific 28th minute run by winger Derek Williams took them deep into the Munster 22, the ball was flashed out wide but just as the try-line beckoned, the final pass was fumbled and the men in red survived.

However, Leinster did manage to take a 10-5 lead into half-time thanks to their opening try from Clondalkin centre Mikey Russell, who showed great speed and evasion skills to get past the covering Munster defenders. McDonald swept the conversion over to put five points between the sides.

They extended the lead just two minutes after the restart, with Munster failing to clear their lines and leaking a five-metre scrum. Replacement prop Cathal Bannon touched down at the end of a lightning-quick attack by the home back-line before the forwards took over. McDonald added the extras for a 17-5 scoreline.

John Keehan’s Munster outfit came roaring back with a second try from O’Dwyer just six minutes later. Kanturk winger Ronan O’Brien made a great burst on the left to come close to the line, and the pressure told when O’Dwyer crashed over. Scrum half Conor Cremin soon tagged on a penalty to make it 17-13 and leave the game very much in the balance.

Crucially, Leinster steadied the ship with a timely try. Munster coughed up possession after trying to run from deep and the hosts sniffed out a score, their quick counter seeing Dundalk’s Williams go over for an unconverted effort.

Newcastle West’s Sean Herlihy split the posts with a penalty to put Munster back within a converted try, but another fast-paced multi-phase attack saw stand-out scrum half Stephen Horan snatch the clinical bonus point try for Leinster. Credit to Munster, they continued to press late on and Niall Campion and Tom O’Callaghan both came close to earning a losing bonus point for the hard-working visitors.

Leinster head coach Finn said afterwards: “(I’m) delighted with the win, we expected a massive challenge from Munster and they didn’t disappoint in that regard. We have now given ourselves that opportunity to win the Interprovincial series.

“It won’t be easy, Ulster are reigning champions and are unbeaten since 2016. However, this group of players have been exceptional to work with and they have the capacity, capability and character to deliver a win next Saturday in Coleraine.”

LEINSTER: Dan Costello (Monkstown); Derek Williams (Dundalk), Mikey Russell (Clondalkin), Matt Stapleton (Clondalkin), Corey Carty (Wexford); Gearoid McDonald (Dundalk), Stephen Horan (Gorey); Jonathan Gray (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 (Carlow), Dylan Quinn (Longford), Cathal Bannon (Monkstown), Tom Brady (Clondalkin), Robin Foot (Portlaoise), Conor McCrossan (North Kildare), Paul O’Connor (Gorey), Stephen Duffy (Wicklow).

MUNSTER: Warren Kelly (St. Senan’s); Dan Horgan (Muskerry), Luke Hogan (Clonmel), Eoin O’Dwyer (Thurles), Ronan O’Brien (Kanturk); Derry O’Connor (Abbeyfeale), Conor Cremin (Kanturk); Niall Campion (Clonmel), Mike Cronin (Castleisland), David O’Gorman (Clonmel), Sean Walsh (Clanwilliam), Brendan Childs (Galbally) (capt), Tony Cantwell (Clonmel), Ronan Crosse (Clonmel), Kieran Downey (Castleisland).

Replacements: Mark Corby (Clonmel), Brendan Kelleher (Kanturk), Danny Lambe (Fethard), Luke Kelly (Thurles), Oisin Walsh (Galbally), Sean Herlihy (Newcastle West), Johnny Lillis (Thurles), Tom O’Callaghan (Mitchelstown).

Scorers: Ulster: Tries: Martin Irwin, Callum Irvine, Martin Connolly, Lee Steenson; Cons: Lee Steenson 3; Pen: Martin Irwin
Connacht: Try: James Kennedy; Con: Ryan Guilfoyle; Pens: Ryan Guilfoyle 4

HT: Ulster 19 Connacht 13

Ards Rugby Club hosted Ulster’s second game of the 2018 Junior Interprovincial Championship, with the Richard Boyd-coached home side registering a 29-19 bonus point success against a resilient Connacht side.
The Ulstermen got off to a strong start and scored an early try through Ballymoney centre Martin Irwin. Following an accurate lineout, they moved the ball quickly into midfield and centre Callum Irvine made a half-break, offloading to scrum half Lee Steenson who then picked out the onrushing Irwin. Steenson converted for a 7-0 lead.

The defending champions held onto the early momentum and soon doubled their advantage. The forwards made some hard yards in midfield, with Paul Greenaway particularly effective, allowing the ball to be moved wide for CIYMS clubman Irvine to crash over. Steenson added the extras again.

Gavin Foley’s Connacht team finally got a foothold and forced a 19th minute penalty, which NUIG full-back Ryan Guilfoyle turned into three points. Nonetheless, Ulster’s attack continued to put chances away and they were three tries and 19-3 up by the half hour mark.

Jason Gilliland made an initial break that brought him to within five metres of the try-line, the ball was recycled quickly and out-half Bokkie Carstens threw a lovely pass to Phil Cartmill, who supplied the scoring pass to Martin Connolly. The Randalstown winger stepped off his left foot and brilliantly rounded the last two defenders to finish off an excellent team try.

However, Connacht had the last say before the interval with another successful penalty kick from Guilfoyle, before NUIG winger James Kennedy popped up on the opposite flank to touch down for a converted score. Suddenly, Ulster’s lead had been pared back to 19-13.

Wrestling back control, Ulster stormed out of the blocks on the resumption as Steenson took a quick tap penalty, sidestepped a number of defenders and carried the last tackler over the line for a superb solo try on 42 minutes. He converted to give Boyd’s charges some breathing space at 26-13.

Connacht then began to dominate possession and had no hesitation in asking full-back Guilfoyle to go for the posts twice more, his two well-struck penalty goals taking his own handsome tally to 14 points and reducing the arrears to seven points.

Having absorbed some more pressure, the Ulstermen responded with a 62nd minute penalty from Irwin, who took on the kicking duties after Steenson was replaced by Ryan Garrett. Connacht rallied again and threw the ball around, looking to unlock the Ulster defence, but the hosts stood firm and held on for a fine victory in the Newtownards sunshine.

ULSTER: Phil Cartmill (Cooke); Thomas Hunter (Ballymoney), Callum Irvine (CIYMS), Martin Irwin (Ballymoney), Martin Connolly (Randalstown); Bokkie Carstens (Coleraine), Lee Steenson (Dromore); David McKeen (Carrickfergus), Alan Whitley (Carrickfergus), Paul Greenaway (Carrickfergus), Oliver Millar (UUC), Sam Mackey (Limavady), Andrew McKeen (Carrickfergus (capt), Jason Gilliland (CIYMS), David Clarke (Ballyclare).

Replacements: Peter Irvine (Ballymoney), Aaron Kilpatrick (CIYMS), Stuart Smyth (Grosvenor), Ross Bingham (Dromore), Bradley Luney (Carrickfergus), Steven Dickey (Coleraine), Ryan Garrett (Larne), Brian McClearn (Dromore).

CONNACHT: Ryan Guilfoyle (NUIG); James Kennedy (NUIG), Matthew Mannion (Monivea), Alex Corduff (Ballina), Tom Staunton (Ballinrobe); Daniel Keane (Ballinrobe), Mickey Murphy (Ballina); Aidan Leech (Creggs), Rory Grenham (Buccaneers) (capt), Shane McGuinness (Sligo), Rob Holian (Ballinrobe), Vinnie Lally ( Monivea), Rossa Dooley (Buccaneers), Stephen Joyce (Monivea), Roy Stanley (NUIG).

Replacements: Ger Fahy (Monivea), Conor Mason (Ballina), Michael McColgan (NUIG), Eddie Dunning (Westport), Ross Hickey (Sligo), Alan Brandon (Creggs), Luke Staunton (Castlebar), Dean McMahon (Buccaneers).


Saturday, May 12 –

MUNSTER (4th) v CONNACHT (3rd), Old Christians RFC, 1.30pm

ULSTER (2nd) v LEINSTER (1st), UUC RFC, 2.30pm



21 – Ryan Guilfoyle (Connacht)

18 – Lee Steenson (Ulster)

16 – Gearoid McDonald (Leinster)

10 – Rob Holian (Connacht), Corey Carty (Leinster), Derek Williams (Leinster), Eoin O’Dwyer (Munster)

8 – Martin Irwin (Ulster)

7 – Martin Connolly (Ulster)


2 – Rob Holian (Connacht), Corey Carty (Leinster), Derek Williams (Leinster), Eoin O’Dwyer (Munster)

1 – James Kennedy (Connacht), Kieran O’Gorman (Leinster), Joe Gorman (Leinster), Mikey Russell (Leinster), Cathal Bannon (Leinster), Stephen Horan (Leinster), Alan Whitley (Ulster), Sam Mackey (Ulster), Bradley Luney (Ulster), Martin Irwin (Ulster), Callum Irvine (Ulster), Martin Connolly (Ulster), Lee Steenson (Ulster)

Related Links –

IRFU Junior Interpros: Round 1 Review

IRFU Junior Interpro Results/Fixtures

IRFU Junior Interpro Table