Chloe Brown’s corner double saw Ulster complete the women’s and men’s interprovincial double as they retained the title with a commanding performance, landing three wins with three clean sheets to boot at Grange Road.
The northern province swept to big wins over Connacht (8-0 on Friday night) and Munster (7-0 on Saturday) put them in pole position going into their final tie with Leinster on Sunday afternoon.
Leinster also had two wins but were behind on goal difference having seen off Munster 3-1 on Friday with the Old Alex contingent of Laura Gray, Emma Russell and Erika Hinkson on the mark. They followed up with a 7-0 win over Connacht on Saturday.
It meant Ulster needed just a draw in the final game to retain the crown and they started in the ascendancy with the likes of Amy Cooke and Gemma Frazer controlling matters while Kerri McDonald was a constant presence down the right flank.
Erika Hinkson, though, was proving a strong presence at the centre of the defence, picking off a string of perfectly timed tackles. She also fired off Leinster’s first shot from a corner which was well saved by Jenna Holmes while Katie Mullan’s slap for a deflection at the far end went off target.
While the blues were on the back foot for the most part, Hayley Mulcahy’s fizzing reverse after a great solo run was the cleanest chance from play. Brown, however, had Ulster in front at half-time as she flicked home down the glove side from her side’s second corner.
Needing two goals in the second half, Leinster came out battling with Hinkson again leading the charge. Her jinking run created an opening but again shot narrowly wide from the top of the circle.
The northern province, however, finished strong and won a series of penalty corners. From one, Brown exchanged a one-two with Katie Mullan before pushing home from mid-circle. Rachel Barnett denied Ulster a third from a point-blank deflection but it was a moot point in the final destination for the 2014 interpro title.
Friday: Connacht 0 Ulster 8 (L McKee 3, G Frazer 2, K Mullan, J Orr, C Brown); Leinster 3 (L Gray, E Russell, E Hinkson) Munster 1 (E O’Leary)
Saturday: Connacht 0 Leinster 7 (H Mulcahy 2, M O’Donnell, O Patton, S Robinson, L Pinder, R O’Brien); Ulster 6 (K Mullan 2, C Brown, R Chambers, B Barr, L McKee) Munster 0
Sunday: Munster 2 (N Kerr, S Browner) Connacht 1 (M Carey); Ulster 2 (C Brown 2) Leinster 0
Standings: 1. Ulster 9pts (+17) 2. Leinster 6pts (+7) 3. Munster 3pts (-8) 4. Connacht 0pts (-16)