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Seven-Try Munster Overcome Much-Improved Ulster In Armagh

Seven-Try Munster Overcome Much-Improved Ulster In Armagh

Munster's three-try winger Stephanie Carroll is pictured in action against Ulster's Niamh Marley ©INPHO/Leah Scholes

Waterford duo Ellen Boylan and Brianna Heylmann marked their Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship debuts with second half tries as defending champions Ulster ran out 41-14 bonus point winners over Ulster.


Saturday, August 12 –

ULSTER 14 MUNSTER 41, City of Armagh RFC
Scorers: Ulster: Tries: Ella Durkan, Maebh Clenaghan; Cons: Ella Durkan 2
Munster: Tries: Stephanie Carroll 3, Clodagh O’Halloran, Roisin Ormond, Ellen Boylan, Brianna Heylmann; Cons: Kate Flannery 3
HT: Ulster 7 Munster 17

Murray Houston’s first game in charge of Ulster saw them produce a strong performance across the opening hour at City of Armagh RFC, with Maebh Clenaghan’s 55th-minute try reducing the arrears to 10 points.

However, Niamh Briggs’ side sealed the result through closing scores from replacements Boylan and Heylmann, and Vodafone player-of-the-match Stephanie Carroll also completed her hat-trick late on.

Munster had led 17-7 at the end of a tightly-contested first half, with Ella Durkan’s converted try briefly having the hosts ahead in between two Carroll five-pointers. Clodagh O’Halloran crossed in the 36th minute to extend the visitors’ advantage.

The closing 40 minutes saw Deirbhile Nic a Bháird, a real game breaker during last season’s tournament, have the desired impact off the bench for seven-try Munster. They are back at Musgrave Park next Saturday to play Connacht, while Ulster take on Leinster at Energia Park.

Ulster offered some early promise in the Armagh sunshine with Fiona Tuite and Sadhbh McGrath punching holes in the visitors’ defence, yet Munster were able to score from their first visit to the opposition 22.

Despite Maeve Liston dealing well with an initial kick through, Durkan fumbled a pass near the Ulster whitewash, under pressure from Aoife Doyle, and the latter’s wing colleague Carroll was able to ground the loose ball for a five-nil lead.

Ulster won a series of penalties in response, laying down an early marker with a strong maul. Although they blew a lineout opportunity closer in, Durkan got her own back on Doyle when a wicked bounce from a Liston kick allowed the centre to swoop in, touch down and convert.

Nonetheless, Munster were quick to regain the lead. Off a miscued Ulster lineout in the 18th minute, the visitors’ back-three flooded out to the left and the impressive Carroll flew past Liston to score in the corner, despite Niamh Marley’s last-ditch tackle.

With the scoreboard showing 10-7, Munster’s all-international back row began to wield more influence. There was a pacy attack off a quickly-taken penalty and then Maeve Óg O’Leary won a turnover penalty to halt Ulster’s progress at the other end.

Some new-season rustiness was evident for both sides as the handling errors increased, but Munster crucially converted some late pressure into points. Second row O’Halloran stepped off her left, getting beyond Gemma McCamley’s tackle to reach out and score.

Kate Flannery’s low-swung conversion put 10 points between the teams at the break, and Munster continued to lift the tempo on the restart. Eight minutes in, Fiona Reidy pinched a lineout, Nic a Bháird rumbled up close, and prop Roisin Ormond duly crashed over between two defenders.

Following Flannery’s second conversion, Ulster’s response was positive once more although their execution let them down at maul time. Their workhorse pack came again, captain Beth Cregan driving up close from a penalty before Munster’s whitewash was breached.

Donegal native Clenaghan, who put in a big shift at openside flanker, deservedly barged over to the right of the posts having shrugged off both Nic a Bháird and Flannery. Durkan’s conversion brought it back to a 10-point deficit.

The Ulster forwards continued to gain ground, with tireless second row Tuite to the fore. However, Chloe Pearse won the battle of the breakdown to relieve the pressure on the title holders who turned to Nic a Bháird to get their attack firing.

The Cork woman burst off the back of a scrum, five metres from her own line, and brilliantly beat two defenders with her pace and jinking ability. Reaching halfway, she linked with the 19-year-old Boylan who darted clear down the right wing for a stunning try which made it 29-14.

Munster’s sharper handling and angles of running pocketed them more points during the closing stages. Full-back Aoife Corey broke into the Ulster 22 and O’Leary twice kept the move going, the flanker’s pass off the ground sending Carroll squeezing over for her third try of the day.

Despite some decent phases from a much-improved Ulster, their try haul remained at two and Heylmann had the final say for the Reds. Munster’s maul did the damage and Pearse’s neat interchange sent her UL Bohemians club-mate powering over, with Flannery adding the extras.

TIME LINE: 6 minutes – Munster try: Stephanie Carroll – 0-5; conversion: missed by Kate Flannery – 0-5; 14 mins – Ulster try: Ella Durkan – 5-5; conversion: Ella Durkan – 7-5; 18 mins – Munster try: Stephanie Carroll – 7-10; conversion: missed by Kate Flannery – 7-10; 36 mins – Munster try: Clodagh O’Halloran – 7-15; conversion: Kate Flannery – 7-17; Half-time – Ulster 7 Munster 17; 48 mins – Munster try: Roisin Ormond – 7-22; conversion: Kate Flannery – 7-24; 55 mins – Ulster try: Maebh Clenaghan – 12-24; conversion: Ella Durkan – 14-24; 65 mins – Munster try: Ellen Boylan – 14-29; conversion: missed by Kate Flannery – 14-29; 70 mins – Munster try: Stephanie Carroll – 14-34; conversion: missed by Kate Flannery – 14-34; 80+1 mins – Munster try: Brianna Heylmann – 14-39; conversion: Kate Flannery – 14-41; Full-time – Ulster 14 Munster 41

ULSTER: Maeve Liston; Niamh Marley, Kelly McCormill, Ella Durkan, Megan Edwards; Abby Moyles, Laura Cairns; Sadhbh McGrath, Beth Cregan (capt), Gemma McCamley, Fiona Tuite, Keelin Brady, Chloe Donnan, Maebh Clenaghan, Sophie Barrett.

Replacements used: Taryn Schutzler for Donnan (5 mins), Brenda Barr for Schutzler, Peita McAlister for Edwards, Stacey Sloan for Barrett (all 48), Sarah Roberts for McCamley, Aishling O’Connell for McGrath (both 61), Amber Redmond for Cairns (66), Toni MacCartney for Durkan (74).

MUNSTER: Aoife Corey; Aoife Doyle, Alana McInerney, Stephanie Nunan, Stephanie Carroll; Kate Flannery, Muirne Wall; Roisin Ormond, Ciara Farrell, Fiona Reidy, Gillian Coombes, Clodagh O’Halloran, Dorothy Wall (capt), Maeve Óg O’Leary, Chloe Pearse.

Replacements used: Deirbhile Nic a Bháird for Farrell (half-time), Claire Bennett for Coombes (44 mins), Farrell for Reidy (51), Ellen Boylan for Doyle (58), Eilis Cahill for Ormond, Jane Clohessy for O’Halloran (both 61), Abbie Salter-Townshend for M Wall, Brianna Heylmann for D Wall (both 72), Aoife O’Shaughnessy for Nunan (77).

Referee: Peter McClure (IRFU)