Winger Henry Buttimer’s second half hat-trick of tries saw Munster run out convincing winners over Ulster, as they finished the PwC IRFU Under-19 Interprovincial Championship with back-to-back victories.
PWC IRFU UNDER-19 MEN’S INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – ROUND 2: Sunday, September 12
ULSTER U-19s 12 MUNSTER U-19s 30, MU Barnhall RFC
Scorers: Ulster U-19s: Tries: Ethan Graham, James McNabney; Con: Josh Drain
Munster U-19s: Tries: Jeff Williams, Henry Buttimer 3; Cons: Jeff Williams 2; Pens: Jeff Williams 2
HT: Ulster U-19s 0 Munster U-19s 3
Fiach O’Loughlin’s youngsters prevailed on a 30-12 scoreline, the result of this rescheduled second round match meaning they ended up second in the final table.
Out-half Jeff Williams, who matched Buttimer’s 15-point contribution, kicked Munster into a 3-0 lead and that is how it stayed up to half-time, despite some impressive line breaks at both ends.
An action-packed second half produced six tries, with Ethan Graham and captain James McNabney both touching down to keep Ulster, the third-place finishers, in the hunt.
However, 22-12 is as close as they came, the influential Williams converting his own opportunist score and providing the assists for two of Buttimer’s three tries.
Munster found some early joy up the right wing, Buttimer twice being released down the touchline with his second opportunity seeing him kick through into the opposition 22.
James O’Brien flew past a tackler on a kick return, dinking the ball infield as Ulster were forced to scramble back. Liam McCarthy retrieved possession on the ground for the Reds, but big number 8 Brian Gleeson unfortunately knocked on.
A strong follow-up tackle from RS Armagh’s James Campbell brought Ulster back up past their own 10-metre line, and they gave a first glimpse of their attacking quality when out-half Josh Drain sliced straight through on a 40-metre burst.
They had nothing to show for that ninth-minute break, though, as Gleeson forced a turnover penalty.
Centre Michael Burnett carried powerfully to claw back that lost territory for Ulster, but a dummy lineout throw soon allowed Munster to kick clear.
Knock-ons thwarted both teams up to the first water break, before Munster opened the scoring in the 24th minute. Williams’ well-struck central penalty punished a no-arms tackle from McNabney.
Scrum half James Wright was growing in influence for Jonathan Gillespie’s charges, providing a quick pass off the base and popping up in support of full-back Graham’s break from inside his own half.
Into the second period, a Williams knock-on gave Ulster a gilt-edged scrum platform. McNabney and Andrew Donald both carried well before good hands from Wright and Campbell put Graham over in the right corner.
Now trailing 5-3, Munster were only behind for a few minutes before McNabney dropped a pass and Williams scooped it for a 45-metre dash to the line. The Bandon half-back converted his own try, with the aid of the left hand post, to make it 10-5.
Munster then began to develop a cushion, making the most of hard-won possession supplied by lock Diarmuid Dennehy.
Centre McCarthy’s incisive run at the end of seven phases paved the way for Williams to loop out a long pass to put Buttimer stretching over by the right corner flag.
Buttimer was over in the same corner for a quick-fire double in the 49th minute, the Munster backs passing sweetly from a scrum as they outflanked Ulster out to the right. A fine strike from Williams left it 22-5.
The Ulster forwards redoubled their efforts, earning a maul penalty and a quick flash of possession out to the left set up McNabney for a brilliant bulldozing try, the number 8 scoring despite the presence of four defenders.
A classy conversion followed from Drain, bringing it back to a 10-point deficit with 15 minutes remaining.
Munster had the answer, a well-driven maul and a penalty advantage teeing up Williams for a cross-field kick which Buttimer claimed ahead of Jamie Beattie to complete his hat-trick.
Williams wrapped up the result with a last-minute penalty goal, the donkey work having been done by Eoghan Sheehan and replacement Tommy O’Connor who combined to steal a lineout.
ULSTER U-19: Ethan Graham (Monaghan RFC); James Campbell (RS Armagh), Adam Warren (Ballyclare RFC), Michael Burnett (City of Armagh RFC), Jamie Beattie (RBAI); Josh Drain (Ballymena Academy), James Wright (Ballymena Academy); Cameron Doak (Wallace HS), Andrew Donald (Ballymena), Jack Boal (CCB), Jack Norton (Belfast HS), Joe Hopes (CCB), Michael Crothers (MCB), Matthew French (Ballymena Academy), James McNabney (Cambridge House) (capt).
Replacements: Zac Solomon (CCB), Jacob Boyd (RBAI), Cameron Hillis (CCB), Paddy Browne (Ballymena Academy), Josh Stevens (MCB), Adam Scott (RS Dungannon), Lorcan Hanratty (MCB), Rory Ellerby (RBAI).
MUNSTER U-19: James O’Brien (St. Munchin’s College/St. Mary’s RFC); Henry Buttimer (Rockwell College/Clonmel RFC), Cian O’Halloran (Crescent College Comprehensive/Shannon RFC), Liam McCarthy (Bandon Grammar School/Skibbereen RFC) (capt), Luke Doyle (Waterford City RFC); Jeff Williams (Bandon Grammar School/Bandon RFC), Andrew O’Mahony (UCC RFC/CBC Cork); Conall Henchy (Crescent College Comprehensive/UL Bohemian RFC), Gus Harrington (St. Munchin’s College/Shannon RFC), Danny McCarthy (Midleton CBS/Midleton RFC), Diarmuid Dennehy (Bruff RFC), Eoghan Sheehan (CBC Cork/Dolphin RFC), Ruadhan Quinn (Crescent College Comprehensive/Ballina-Killaloe RFC), Peter Hyland (PBC Cork/Cork Constitution FC), Brian Gleeson (Rockwell College/Thurles RFC).
Replacements: Thomas Land (CBC Cork/Midleton RFC), Evan O’Riordan (CBC Cork/Cork Constitution FC), Stephen Hayes (St. Munchin’s College/St. Mary’s RFC), Tommy O’Connor (St. Gerard’s School), Robert McCarthy (Bandon RFC), Jack Kevane (Bandon Grammar School/Skibbereen RFC), James Finn (St. Joseph’s CBS/Nenagh Ormond RFC), Jacob O’Driscoll (Bandon RFC).