U-21 Interprovincials – day one round-up (words thanks to Alan Good)
Birthday girl Rebecca Barry gave a present to all of Munster as her pinpoint short corner strike helped the province to a 1-0 win over Ulster at the U21 Interpros in Garryduff, Cork on day one of the U-21 interprovincials.
The Catholic Institute and Richmond Spiders star battered Munster’s first set-piece to the bottom corner on 16 minutes for an early lead that Paidi Hartnett’s hosts never relinquished.
All of their best chances thereafter fell to UCC’s Aine Curran, but she mishit three of her shots when well-placed while Naomi Carroll had the ball in the net in the second half, but it was chalked off for a foot in the build-up.
Despite sterling showings from Kirsty Lammey, Kerri McDonald, Sarah McClure and Leah Ewart, Ulster’s short corners went awry all day and they couldn’t find a way through as Munster put in a superb defensive performance, led by Roisin Upton, Yvonne O’Byrne, Rosie Shanahan, Kate Murphy and Amy Kate Trevor.
The hosts did put themselves under unnecessary pressure in the final quarter, however. Centre-backs Trevor and Shanahan were each caught out as Ulster moved to an aggressive full press, while Curran took yellow on 65 minutes to leave her side short for the final five.
But they held out to record an important win that leaves them in second place after day one, following Leinster’s 7-0 dismissal of Connacht.
Hayley Mulcahy gave them a 2nd-minute lead but they had to work hard to put the game to bed before letting loose in the final quarter.
Deirdre Duke got the all-important second on 45 minutes before Leinster’s short corner specialists took over, Eanna Horan and Nicola Gray bashinghome to put the result beyond doubt by 58 minutes.
Mulcahy and Gray both completed their braces in the final 10 minutes, sandwiching an Erika Hinkson effort, as the blues put themselves in prime position to defend their title.
Meanwhile, it’s advantage Ulster in the men’s competition as their greater composure in the circle helped them see off Munster 2-0, while Leinster were held to a 1-1 draw by the Irish U18s.
Neil Welch’s Munster will lament their lack of ruthlessness as they dominated the northerners for long periods and crafted some gilt-edged opportunities, but they were another side left to rue a misfiring corner routine.
Owen Magee put Ulster in front on five minutes when he snapped up a reverse after the ball went loose in the Munster circle, but it was a tight game thereafter.
Goalkeeper Brian Corcoran saved well on a number of occasions while Ben Dobson had a fruitful day charging down Stephen Dowds’ drag-flicks, and skipper Adam O’Callaghan had a super outing in both defence and attack, taking one drag off the line.
At the other end, Nick Burns saw one drag blocked while another sailed wide, but Munster’s best opportunities came in a second half they dominated.
Problem was they were two down at that stage, as Mark Crooks did superbly to collect a Corcoran kick at full pelt and shinpad height, then engineer the room to reverse to the far bottom corner on 46 minutes.
Karl Lynch, influential all day for the hosts, turned Ulster over in the press and surged into the D but chose to pass across goal from close range with no Munster stick on the end of it.
Lynch then played in Shrew Power, who took out Ulster goalkeeper Alistair Thom but a diving Fionn O’Leary just missed the touch required into the unguarded goal.
And it was deja-vu a couple of minutes later as Power flicked at Thom and the rebound fell to O’Leary, but the normally clinical UCC man fresh-aired when well-placed to score.
A slew of late corners, coming off the excellent Peter Catchpole’s trickery, failed to yield a goal for Munster who will have to come up with some new routines over the rest of the weekend to make their opportunities count.
Meanwhile, Leinster were thankful to Jamie Tobin as the YMCA man’s equaliser got them out of trouble in the second half against Graham Shaw’s Ireland U-18s, for whom Kilkenny College man Jeremy Duncan had snaffled an opener.
The Irish were very comfortable on the ball throughout – boding well for their Home Nations campaign in the summer – with superb performances from skipper Matthew Rollins and Kirk Shimmins in particular.
U21 Interpros, Day 1
Men: Leinster U21 1 (Jamie Tobin) Ireland U18 1 (Jeremy Duncan); Munster U21 0 Ulster U21 2 (Owen Magee, Mark Crooks)
Women: Leinster U21 7 (Hayley Mulcahy 2, Nicola Gray 2, Deirdre Duke, Erika Hinkson, Eanna Horan) Connacht U21 0
Munster U21 1 (Rebecca Barry) Ulster U21 0.