Despite having to play four games in less than 30 hours, the Leinster Under-18s retained the schoolboy’s interprovincial title in Mossley yesterday.
Freezing conditions on Friday night meant that Leinster’s start to the competition was delayed until Saturday morning, meaning their entire tournament was condensed into a very short timeframe. Nonetheless, they started with a comfortable 5-0 win over Munster before drawing against Ulster on Saturday evening.
With the southern province seeing off Ulster 2-1 on Saturday, it put Leinster in the box seat overnight and a 4-2 win over Munster, in which Jack Ryan netted a brace, put them on the brink.
Munster had started well, Jack O’Mahony getting them on the board but a rash of cards allowed Leinster to prosper and – while they were down to nine – Richard Couse levelled the game with a cracking low strike.
Ryan picked out the top corner with his first goal a minute later, another crisply hit first time effort, but when his side were reduced to ten players, Clyde Buttimer evened things up at 2-2, rolling home from close range. Leinster, though, were more assured in the second half and another Ryan effort on his backhand along with a Luke Madeley drag built a lead they would not give up.
They needed to avoid a four-goal defeat in the second meeting with Ulster and, while it was shaky at times, they prevailed despite a 3-1 loss to the northern hosts.
Half-time was level at 1-1 with Andrew Smyth and Couse, from a corner rebound, trading goals before Smyth’s second inside the last five minutes came too late to threaten a famous result from the ashes.
At Under-16 level, Ulster were the top dogs with four wins from four, closing out the competition with a hugely impressive 6-1 win over Leinster as the blue province ended they day third.
They had started Sunday with an outside chance of winning the title but those hopes ended when they fell to Munster 3-1. Matthew Lee’s corner goal was cancelled out by Gavin Gibney’s low drag-flick for 1-1 at half-time.
Calum Crowley, though, put the southerners back in front in the 48th minute and Andrew Tutty closed out the win. It made the final game of the competition between Leinster and Ulster a victory procession for the hosts and they overcame a tired outfit with something to spare.
Saturday results: Munster 0 Leinster 1 (A Larmour); Munster 0 Ulster 2; Leinster 1 Ulster 2
Sunday: Leinster 1 (A Larmour) Ulster 6 (A O’Hare 3, L Witherow 2, D Rae); Leinster 1 (G Gibney) Munster 3 (M Lee, C Crowley, A Tutty)
Standings: 1. Ulster 12pts (+9) 2. Munster 3pts (-2) 3. Leinster 3pts (-7)
Saturday results: Munster 0 Leinster 5 (L Madeley 2, J McCormack, A Meates, D Walsh); Ulster 1 (A Smyth) Munster 2 (J Handel, J Dale); Ulster 1 (A Smyth) Leinster 1 (J McCormack)
Sunday: Leinster 4 (J Ryan 2, R Couse, L Madeley) Munster 2 (J O’Mahony, C Buttimer); Leinster 1 (R Couse) Ulster 3 (A Smyth 2, R McIvor)
Standings: 1. Leinster 8pts (+5) 2. Ulster 8pts (+2) 3. Munster 3pts (-7)