Leinster’s seniors finished runners-up in both the men’s and women’s interprovincials last weekend at Serpentine Avenue, unable to emulate the heroics of their junior counterparts who completed a double at Grange Road.
The men came closer of the two, Timmy Cockram’s goal four minutes from time sending the trophy back north for a third time in four years.
It earned Ulster a 3-3 draw which allied to Saturday’s 7-2 thrashing of Munster, saw them over the line on goal difference.
Leinster had started the tournament with a strong win, topping Munster 4-1, an excellent second half performance transforming a 0-0 half-time scoreline.
Davy Carson and David Keogh both scored on their blues’ debuts while there were also goals for Peter Blakeney and Andy Walker with John Jermyn getting a consolation on Friday night.
But Ulster’s big win in game two but Leinster on the back foot, needing a win to take the title.
Again, Munster were well in the race as the break, fighting back to level at 2-2 courtesy of another two Jermyn goals, despite falling 2-0 behind.
Their foreign-based players were key, Chris Cargo and Mikey Watt doubles and one from Geoff McCabe accounting for five of their goals.
Timmy Cockram also got a pair as Ulster ran riot with five goals in 14 second half minutes to whip past the finishing post.
Leinster made a decent fist of retaining the title, leading 2-1 at the break and 3-2 into the closing stretch, Glenanne trio Gary Shaw, Shane O’Donoghue and Joe Brennan doing the damage.
Garvey pair Greg Thompson and Cockram kept Ulster in range and the latter popped up late on to crown another fine year on a personal level – retaining the top scorer’s tag to go with his Ulster league title.
On the women’s side, a stunning 5-0 romp over Ulster proved to be the highlight of a thrilling ESB Electric Ireland Senior Women’s Interprovincials for Munster, as they annexed the title for the first time since 2003.
A subsequent 1-1 draw with Leinster left the blues an outside chance of snatching the title – needing a 4-1 win over Ulster in the tournament’s final game – but it was not to be.
Having laid down this marker on Friday at Serpentine Avenue. Ger O’Carroll’s southern side ground out the necessary three points in their final match against Connacht on Sunday to top the pool by two points.
With no current Irish squad members on show, due to the proximity of their busy summer season, the presence of former Irish captain Eimear Cregan proved instrumental, as she scored five of Munster’s eight goals over the weekend.
First-half goals from captain Elaine Bromell, Ali O’ Regan and Naomi Carroll, as well as a brace from Cregan, saw Munster ease past shell-shocked defending champions Ulster on Friday, leading 3-0 inside ten minutes via a pair of corners.
Leinster had laid their stall out with a 4-0 victory over Connacht earlier in the afternoon, Holly Jenkinson getting them off to the perfect start after just four minutes.
Railway Union club maters Sinead Dooley (two) and Kate Dillon on the final hooter completed a comfortable win.
Munster and Leinster shared the spoils on match day two thanks to goals Cregan and Kate Dillon, before Cregan, Ireland’s most capped player of all time, showed her class with another double against Connacht as Munster prevailed 2-0.
With one draw and one victory under their belt, Leinster knew nothing but a convincing win over Ulster could snatch victory from Munster. But the defending champions weren’t willing to roll over and held the Leinster to a 1-1 draw, Nikki Keegan getting Leinster’s equaliser in the closing stages.
Leinster conquered the junior men’s title, belatedly notching the goals to beat Ulster 5-0 in a winner-takes-all clash at Grange Road on Saturday. Following the withdrawal of Connacht the tournament was reduced to a one-day event.
And it appeared to play a reasonable factor as the sides involved in back-to-back games faded late in their second fixture.
Leinster showed no such weary legs, though. Having fallen behind against Munster to Alex Newenham’s brilliant diving finish to Eric Callendar’s cross, two second half penalty corners swung the game, making it 2-1 in the morning game – Cain Cooney and Scott Wilkie doing the necessary.
After only an hour’s rest, a fatigued Munster went down 4-0 to Ulster. They fell behind to a Johnny Orr goal just before half-time before Connor Bannister finished off a superbly-worked short corner move featuring six players midway through the second half.
Munster then had captain Eric Callender and John Cudmore yellow-carded in the space of two minutes, and Ulster took full advantage of their numerical supremacy to net further goals through Orr and Stephen McMillon.
The northern province then faced a refreshed Leinster side who ran out easy victors, Scott Wilike notching two of the hosts’ four unanswered goals that came in the final 10 minutes in a 5-0 win.
The women’s side made it a double for Leinster’s Junior outfits, topping the pool by two points. Boasting a 100pc record coming into Sunday’s encounter with Ulster, Leinster knew a draw would be enough to secure the competition, which proved to be the case, the game ending 1-1 with Karen Clarke’s goal crucial, marking another high point this year for the team’s skipper, an IJC, division two and Jacqui Potter Cup winner already in 2011.
Swords’ woman Breda Orohoe’s single strike was enough to account for Connacht before Tara Powderly and Aoife Dalton inspired the blues to a 4-0 win over Munster.
A 3-0 success over the South East moved the side to the brink and they closed out the tournament with the draw they needed against Ulster.
*** With big thanks to Ian Cusack and Alan Good for the words and Adrian Boehm, Emer Keogh and Pat Sargent for pictures from the weekend.
ESB Electric Ireland Interprovincials, Serpentine Avenue/Grange Road
Senior Men’s results: Munster 1 (John Jermyn) Leinster 4 (Davy Carson, Andy Walker, David Keogh, Peter Blakeney); Munster 2 (John Jermyn 2) Ulster 7 (Mikey Watt 2, Timmy Cockram 2, Chris Cargo 2, Geoff McCabe); Leinster 3 (Gary Shaw, Shane O’Donoghue, Joe Brennan) Ulster 3 (Timmy Cockram 2, Greg Thompson).
Standings: 1 Ulster 4 pts (+5); 2 Leinster 4 pts (+3); 3 Munster 0 pts (-8)
Senior Women’s results: Leinster 4 (Sinead Dooley 2, Holly Jenkinson, Kate Dillon) Connacht 0; Munster 5 (Eimear Cregan 2, Elaine Bromell, Ali O’Regan, Naomi Carroll); Ulster 0; Connacht 0 Ulster 6 (Steph Quinn 2, Jessica Lynch, Jayne Clarke, Hannah McMillan, Scarlett Holdsworth); Leinster 1 (Kate Dillon) Munster 1 (Eimear Cregan); Leinster 1 (Nikki Keegan) Ulster 1 (Rachel Kind).
Standings: 1 Munster 7 pts (+7); 2 Leinster 5 pts (+4); 3 Ulster 4 pts (+1); 4 Connacht 0 pts (-12).
Junior Men’s results: Leinster 2 (Cain Cooney, Scott Wilkie) Munster 1 (Alex Newenham); Ulster 4 (Johnny Orr 2, Connor Bannister, Stephen McMillan) Munster 0; Leinster 5 (Cain Cooney, Scott Wilkie 2, Dave Wilson, Brian Cleere) Ulster 0.
Standings: 1 Leinster 6 pts (+6); 2 Ulster 3 pts (-1); 3 Munster 0 pts (-5).
Junior Women’s, results: Leinster 1 (Breda Orhoe) Connacht 0; Ulster 2 (Jayne McGrillen 2) Munster 1 (Sarah Gray); South East 1 (Louise Fanning) Connacht 2 (Emma Glanville, Georgina Fagan); Leinster 4 (Karen Clarke, Olwen Smith, Tara Powderly, Aoife Dalton) Munster 0; Ulster 3 (Rose Montgomery, Sarah Galbraith, Wendy Bustard) South East 1 (Miriam Lambert); Munster 1 (Lorraine McGowan) Connacht 0; Leinster 3 (Elaine Hall, Fiona O’Donovan, Tara Powderly) South East 0;
Connacht 0 Ulster 0; South East 0 Munster 0;
Leinster 1 (K Clarke) Ulster 1 (S Colgan).
Standings: 1 Leinster 10 pts (+8); 2 Ulster 8 pts (+3); 3 Connacht 4 pts (-1); 4 Munster 4 pts (-4); 5 South East 1 pt (-6).