** Words from Bobby Mercer
The Leinster men’s junior side landed second place at their Interprovincial tournament in Cork, missing out to eventual winners Ulster while the women ended up third place.
First on the agenda was a tie with Connacht with the game starting well with both teams sharing possession. But, after 10 minutes, Leinster took a hold of the game with the first goal coming from short corner which Ben Epstein duly put away.
The blues then got their second goal from Kilkenny native Eamonn Walsh who drove from the 25 past three defenders before slipping the ball underneath the oncoming keeper’s pads.
Just before the half, Leinster extended the lead to 3-0 with another short corner. This time, Epstein’s drag was taken off the line by Jonathan Codd but Cian Hussey was on hand to slot away the rebound.
After half-time, Connacht came out all guns blazing and fired two goals in 15 minutes to make the score 3-2. But up stepped Walsh who once again got through two defenders before pushing the pushing the ball in the goal to finish the match at 4-2.
Next up was Ulster, falling 2-1. Leinster took the lead in the seventh minute through a excellent finish from John Elliot who swept the ball into the roof after being set up back post by Cain Cooney. Ulster then applied constant pressure which produced two quick goals in the 10 minutes before half time.
Leinster applied a lot of pressure in the second half with ball flashing across the front of the Ulster goal but no one able to get a touch. Leinster were granted a final whistle short corner but the drag flick was blocked down and cleared to end the game 2-1.
The final game on Leinster’s agenda was against Munster with second place on the table and, with the stand packed with home supporters and both Ulster teams, the pressure was on from the start.
Leinster started well with the first goal coming from the first corner, Aran Rooney dragging the ball into the bottom left corner. Leinster then doubled the lead again from a set piece with Michael Styles this time getting the ball on a switch which he smashed into the corner to make it 2-0.
Munster got one got with a corner of their own, this one going back to the injector to be slapped it home. But the set piece salvo continued as the blues made it 3-1 at half-time when Ben Epstein dragged the ball into the bottom right corner.
After the break, Munster got a surge of energy and pushed hard and were rewarded with a goal from a David Quinn deflection and Brendan de Preez also beat the goalie at his near post with a reverse stick sweep to make it 3-3.
But the tie was settled when Simon Pearson, who was a running the game for the last 10 minutes, took the ball on the half way and battled through multiple tackles before pushing home for a 4-3 win.
On the women’s side, Leinster fell to an opening day 2-0 loss to Ulster who won the title with three wins from three. 1-1 draws with South East and Munster meant the blues ended up in third place overall.
Men’s Junior Interpros: Munster 3 Connacht 1; Leinster 1 Ulster 2; Munster 0 Ulster 5; Leinster 4 Connacht 2; Ulster 10 Connacht 0; Munster 3 Leinster 4
Final standings: 1 Ulster 9pts; 2 Leinster 6pts; 3 Munster 3 pts; 4 Connacht 0 pts
Women’s Junior Interpros: Munster 3 South East 1; Ulster 2 Leinster 0; Munster 1 Ulster 3; Leinster 1 South East 1; Ulster 4 South East 1; Munster 1 Leinster 1
Final standings: 1 Ulster 9pts; 2 Munster 4pts; 3 Leinster 2pts; 4 South East 1pt