Ulster produced a lively performance against Connacht in the day’s early game to pile the pressure onto Leinster in the final game of the Interpros. Their 7-2 victory – earmarked by Shirley McCay’s hat-trick – meant Leinster needed to win by at least three clear goals against Munster and end the northern province’s three year hold on the title.
But Leinster found little problem in getting the required goals, perhaps aided by a Munster side who looked to have been bearing the exertions against Ulster heavily in their legs.
The southerners started in lively fashion, Mary Goode forced to make a point-blank, reaction save from Aine Connery while Julia O’Halloran shot just wide.
But Leinster hit three in eight minutes to put them on the precipice of overall success. Anna O’Flanagan got the ball rolling in the 23rd minute, profiting in the second phase of a penalty corner.
Nikki Symmons crash-ball found the diving-touch of Cathy McKean soon after and when Roisin Flinn was credited with a fortuitous third, Leinster were within their proscribed target with 38 minute still to play.
Former international Deirdre Casey slammed home an improvised corner but Munster could not pull another back to pressurize the blues and the title was made safer in the dying moments when Jacob skipped through to flick past Ciara Ronan with Jean McDonnell running onto the loose ball and tap in the half-dozen.
Ulster 7 (Shirley McCay 3, Michelle Harvey 2, Emma Clarke, Kate Magowan) Connacht 2 (Rosie Carrigan, Louisa Moore); Leinster 6 (Cathy McKean 2, Anna O’Flanagan, Roisin Flinn, Lisa Jacob, Jean McDonnell) Munster 1 (Deirdre Casey)
Final Standings (points/goal diff):
1. Leinster 7pts (+9) 2. Ulster 7pts (+6) 3. Munster 3pts (-4) 4. Connacht 0pts (-11)