Jump to main content



Ulster Lose Out To O’Connor-Inspired Leinster

Ulster Lose Out To O’Connor-Inspired Leinster

Hannah O'Connor receives her Vodafone player-of-the-match award from Christy Haney, her fellow Leinster co-captain ©INPHO/John McVitty

Co-captain Hannah O’Connor helped herself to a hat-trick of tries during Leinster’s 43-0 final round triumph over Ulster in the Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship.


Saturday, January 21 –

ULSTER 0 LEINSTER 43, Queen’s University Upper Malone
Scorers: Ulster: –
Leinster: Tries: Emma Hooban, Hannah O’Connor 3, Molly Scuffil-McCabe, Ella Roberts, Niamh Byrne; Cons: Dannah O’Brien 4
HT: Ulster 0 Leinster 26

Tania Rosser’s side had their bonus point wrapped up by the half-hour mark at Queen’s Upper Malone facility. Influential number 8 O’Connor touched down twice and Emma Hooban and Molly Scuffil-McCabe also crossed the whitewash.

Dannah O’Brien landed three conversions to leave Ulster 26-0 behind at half-time, and the hosts were unable to hit back despite the best efforts of Ella Durkan, Emma Jordan and lively replacement Fiona Tuite.

While Munster were crowned champions earlier in the day, runners-up Leinster closed out their Interpro campaign with O’Connor’s third of the evening and final quarter efforts from Ella Roberts and replacement Niamh Byrne.

Leinster were first to settle, out-half O’Brien putting a central penalty wide before Roberts injected serious pace into an attack and Aoife Dalton went close from a quickly-taken penalty.

The visitors kept the pressure on through Aoife McDermott before hooker Hooban picked quickly to plunge over in the eighth minute, with O’Brien turning it into a full seven-pointer.

In response Ulster were boosted by a strong midfield break from India Daley, while Sadhbh McGrath also got them over the gain-line. Crucially, ball retention was proving difficult as Leinster kept them out of scoring range.

Instead, Rosser’s charges managed to double their lead when O’Brien’s quick pass – with Ulster captain Beth Cregan and Durkan both rushing up in defence – gave O’Connor a straightforward finish under the posts. O’Brien’s conversion made it 14-0.

Try number three followed with O’Connor the provider this time. Breaking off the back of a scrum and with Niamh Marley left on her own as a defender, O’Connor slipped a pass away for scrum half Scuffil-McCabe to score in the right corner.

The Blues registered their bonus point in the 29th minute, centre Dalton again carrying up close and presenting quick ruck ball for Scuffil-McCabe who released O’Connor to double her contribution. The extras from O’Brien left Ulster 26 points in arrears.

There were positives for Neill Alcorn’s Ulster outfit, with Ilse van Staden standing out at scrum time and winger Marley landing two big tackles on Elise O’Byrne-White, prompting the home crowd to raise the decibel level.

Leinster’s handling let them down early in the second half, O’Connor going for one offload too many before a looping pass from O’Brien was knocked on by full-back Roberts with an almost certain try going abegging.

Ulster put up some very good maul defence from Ulster, aided by the impact of their bench, but when Leinster won a scrum against the head, O’Connor picked from the base and got away from Cregan to complete her hat-trick. O’Brien notched the conversion.

Wicklow starlet Roberts deservedly added a try with 15 minutes remaining, as Leinster pushed 38 points clear. The fresh-legged Byrne broke down the right, and when the visitors returned to the Ulster 22, O’Connor and Jenny Murphy combined to release Roberts for the line.

As space continued to open up, Lisa Mullen and Kelly McCormill both made threatening breaks but Leinster had a clinical edge to their play, Dalton drawing in a defender and releasing Byrne to dart clear and score to the right of the posts.

Ulster did manage to stage a late rally with the strong-carrying Tuite and McCormill both gaining ground by going the direct route, yet knock-ons prevented the Championship’s fourth-place finishers from building for an elusive try.

TIME LINE: 7 minutes – Leinster penalty: missed by Dannah O’Brien – 0-0; 8 mins – Leinster try: Emma Hooban – 0-5; conversion: Dannah O’Brien – 0-7; 17 mins – Leinster try: Hannah O’Connor – 0-12; conversion: Dannah O’Brien – 0-14; 20 mins – Leinster try: Molly Scuffil-McCabe – 0-19; conversion: missed by Dannah O’Brien – 0-19; 29 mins – Leinster try: Hannah O’Connor – 0-24; conversion: Dannah O’Brien – 0-26; Half-time – Ulster 0 Leinster 26; 53 mins – Leinster try: Hannah O’Connor – 0-31; conversion: Dannah O’Brien – 0-33; 65 mins – Leinster try: Ella Roberts – 0-38; conversion – missed by Lisa Mullen – 0-38; 70 mins – Leinster try: Niamh Byrne – 0-43; missed by Lisa Mullen – 0-43; Full-time – Ulster 0 Leinster 43

ULSTER: Maeve Liston (Blackrock College RFC); Lucy Thompson (Enniskillen RFC/Cooke RFC), Emma Jordan (Malone RFC/Suttonians RFC), Kelly McCormill (Cooke RFC), Niamh Marley (Dungannon RFC); Ella Durkan (Blackrock College RFC), Rachael McIlroy (Queen’s University Belfast RFC); Sadhbh McGrath (Cooke RFC), Megan Simpson (Cooke RFC), Ilse van Staden (Cooke RFC), Keelin Brady (Railway Union RFC), Brenda Barr (Suttonians RFC), India Daley (Enniskillen RFC), Beth Cregan (City of Derry RFC/Blackrock College RFC) (capt), Sophie Barrett (Enniskillen RFC).

Replacements used: Aishling O’Connell (Cooke RFC) for van Staden, Gemma McCamley (Cooke RFC) for McGrath (both 27 mins), Helen McGhee (Cooke RFC) for Barr (half-time), Fiona Tuite (Old Belvedere RFC) for Barrett, Fern Wilson (Queen’s University Belfast RFC) for Thompson (both half-time), Stacey Sloan (Cooke RFC) for Daley (51), Van Staden for McCamley (60), Hannah Beattie (Malone RFC) for Brady (63), McGrath for O’Connell (63-71), Hannah Downey (Cooke RFC) for McIlroy (68).

LEINSTER: Ella Roberts (Wicklow RFC); Elise O’Byrne-White (Old Belvedere RFC), Aoife Dalton (Tullamore RFC/Old Belvedere RFC), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere RFC), Anna Doyle (Tullow RFC/Blackrock College RFC); Dannah O’Brien (Tullow RFC/Old Belvedere RFC), Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Garda Westmanstown RFC/Railway Union RFC); Aoife Moore (Blackrock College RFC), Emma Hooban (Blackrock College RFC), Christy Haney (St. Mary’s College RFC/Blackrock RFC (co-capt), Aoife McDermott (Railway Union RFC), Elaine Anthony (Old Belvedere RFC), Niamh O’Dowd (Old Belvedere RFC), Molly Boyne (Dublin University FC/Railway Union RFC), Hannah O’Connor (CYM RFC/Blackrock College RFC) (co-capt).

Replacements used: Katie Whelan (Old Belvedere RFC) for Scuffil-McCabe, Emma Murphy (Railway Union RFC) for Moore (both 48 mins), Eimear Corri (Portlaoise RFC/Blackrock College RFC) for Anthony (55), Niamh Byrne (Railway Union RFC) for O’Byrne-White, Lisa Mullen (Virginia RFC/Blackrock College RFC) for O’Brien (both 59), Megan Collis (Greystones RFC/Railway Union RFC) for Haney, Lisa Callan (Railway Union RFC) for Hooban (both 66), Vic Dabanovich O’Mahony (Old Belvedere RFC) for O’Dowd (71), O’Brien for Roberts (77).

Referee: Shane Kierans (IRFU)