Munster’s U18 Women completed a remarkable turnaround in fortune to beat Ulster 36-7 and claim the IRFU U18 Women’s Interprovincial Championship for 2019. The province had failed to win any of their round-robin games but played with.a new lease of life in the playoff rounds of the reformatted competition.
As Head Coach Fiona Hayes made her way to Energia Park to help Munster’s Senior Women overcome Ulster, U18 Women’s Captain Sarah Murphy tried to put her side’s feat into words.
“We had it tough going in our first three matches,”she said. “Something just clicked with us. We were on point. We were bouncing off each other. We are actually speechless. Ulster were such big competitors in the game.”
Ulster indeed threatening to get around the corner on a number of occasions in the first half. They were met with some committed defence from Munster’s Chisom Ugwueru before her Ireland U18 Sevens team-mate Mya Alcorn ran in a spectacular intercept try for Ulster. Ugwueru had already opened the scoring at that stage and Emma Connolly converted her own try for a 12-7 lead at half time.
“We started picking up our pace in the second half,” said Murphy. “It was electric really.”
Connolly’s accuracy was unerring after the break as she scored a penalty and converted the three second half tries from Ugwueru, Eilis Cahill and Meabh McElligott. IRFU Committee Member Mary Quinn paid tribute to both sides in their approach to a high octane game.
Leinster meanwhile secured third place with a 38-05 win over Connacht.
It was an evenly match start to the game as Connacht’s Mary McLaughlin scored after 10 minutes to match Orla Hayes’ try for Leinster. Leinster added further scores from Ciara Faulker and Vicky Elms Kinlan to lead 17-5 at half-time.
Connacht were getting some good defensive stops early in the second half as they fought for parity with the running of Ivana Kiripati helping them onto the front foot.
Leinster’s strike runners were proving hard to handle though with Caoimhe O’Callaghan getting a try and Vicky Elms Kinlan completing a hat-trick with the help of some superb work from Aoife Wafer to charge down a clearing kick. Ava Jenkins continued her excellent kicking return in this championship with 3/3 conversions in the second half.
IRFU U18 WOMEN’S INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL:
MUNSTER U18 WOMEN 36 ULSTER U18 WOMEN 7, MU Barnhall RFC
Scorers: Munster U18 Women: Tries: Chisom Ugwueru 2, Emma Connolly, Eilis Cahill, Meabh McElligott; Cons: Emma Connolly 4; Pen: Emma Connolly.
Ulster U18 Women: Tries: Mya Alcorn, Cons: Toni Macartney.
HT: Munster U18 Women 12 Ulster U18 Women 7
MUNSTER U18 WOMEN: Aoife Corey (Ennis); Chisom Ugwueru (Ennis), Meabh McElligott (Listowel), Saskia Morrissey (Kilrush), Alana McInerney (Ennis); Emma Connolly (Skibbereen), Courtney Duhig (St. Mary’s); Eileen Gleeson (Nenagh), Sarah Murphy (Kanturk) (C), Erika Kiely (Carrick On Suir), Eilish Cahill (Ennis), Aine Enright (Listowel), Allaiah Tepau (Shannon), Faye Dowling (Fethard), Eimear Minihan (Ennis).
Replacements: Rebecca Collins (St. Mary’s), Marea Walsh (Shannon), Chloe Ann O’Driscoll (Skibbereen), Aoife Costello (St. Mary’s), Alex O’Sullivan (Skibbereen), Clodagh McMahon (Kilrush), Marlese Flynn (Carrick On Suir), Abbie Salter Townsend (Skibbereen).
ULSTER U18 WOMEN: Lucy Turkington (Dungannon), Sophie Kinghan (Dundalk), Zara Flack (Enniskillen), Mya Alcorn (Letterkenny), Farrah Cartin McCloskey (Enniskillen), Toni Macartney (Larne), Sarah Shrestha (Dungannon), Ella Garland (VC) (Queen’s University), Aoife Cahill (Malone), Ava Fannin (Capt) (Virginia), Kim Johnston (Dungannon), Taryn Schutzler (Malone), Sophie Barrett (Enniskillen), Erin Carson (Malone), India Daley (Enniskillen).
Replacements:Cara O’Neill (Malone), Hannah Cooney (Malone), Delyth Cook (Ballyclare), Rachel McGee (Ballyshannon), Lauren Kilfedder (Enniskillen), Moya Hill (Enniskillen), Amanda McQuade (Virginia), Lucy Thompson (Enniskillen).
IRFU U18 WOMEN’S INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP THIRD-PLACE PLAYOFF:
LEINSTER U18 WOMEN 38 CONNACHT U18 WOMEN 05, MU Barnhall RFC
Scorers: Leinster U18 Women: Tries: Orla Hayes, Ciara Faulkner, Vicky Elms Kinlan 3, Caoimhe O’Callaghan; Cons: Ava Jenkins 4
Connacht U18 Women: Tries: Mary McLaughlin
HT: Leinster U18 Women 17 Ulster U18 Women 05
LEINSTER 18 WOMEN: Laura Carty (Edenderry RFC), Orla Hayes (Ashbourne RFC), Ciara Faulkner (Tullamore RFC), Emma Kelly (Tullamore RFC), Caoimhe O’Callaghan (Dundalk RFC), Ava Jenkins (Mullingar RFC), Beth Roberts (Wicklow RFC), Emily Jo White (North Meath RFC), Emily Slater (Arklow RFC), Eimer Douglas (Wicklow RFC), Holly Leach (Barnhall RFC), Ivanna Dempsey (Naas RFC), Erin King (Naas RFC), Aoife Wafer (Enniscorthy RFC), Ellie Meade (Dundalk RFC) (Capt).
Replacements: Katie Anne O’Neill (Naas RFC), Rachel Murtagh (Naas RFC), Megan Collis (Greystones RFC), Dara Yore (North Meath RFC), Katie Whelan (Enniscorthy RFC), Kathryn Dempsey (New Ross RFC), Vicky Elms Kinlan (Wicklow RFC), Rachel Conroy (Tullamore RFC).
CONNACHT U18 WOMEN: Nina McVann (Ballina), Fodhla Ni Bhraonain (Corinthians), Ava Ryder (Westport), Megan Walsh (Connemara), Katie Hogan (Westport), Aisling Browne (Westport), Olivia Haverty (Portumna), Mary McLoughlin (Westport), Emily Gavin (Ballinasloe), Zara Grehan (Buccaneers), Eva McCormack (C)(Westport), Grace Browne Moran (Westport), Mollie Starr (Portumna), Hannah Johnston (Sligo), Ivana Kiripati (Buccaneers).
Replacements: Molly Ager (Claremorris Colts), Dara Moran (Corinthians), Aisling Hahessy (Claremorris Colts), Katelyn Bourke (Ballina), Rachel Larkin (Ballinasloe), Caoimhe Geraghty (Corinthians), Maeve Muldoon (Ballinasloe), Alana Roche (Oughterard).