Leinster’s U-18 boys claimed the interprovincial championships for the fourth successive year courtesy of their 2-0 win over Ulster this evening at Grange Road.
Andrew Fogarty’s simple finish allied to a powerful corner flick from Rory Nichols shot Leinster to the win in the first half, ultimately seeing off the northern province on goal difference in the decisive match of a hectic weekend.
Ulster were in control prior of proceedings to the tie thanks to a pair of wins over Munster and Friday’s 2-0 win over Leinster to sit on nine points.
It meant they needed just a point from the final tie but they ran out of legs markedly. Defensively, goalkeeper Leo Micklem was in fine form while Keith O’Hare was a strong wall just in front of him.
After Ulster had a couple of early corners denied, Gareth Borland’s team went in front from their first corner, one worked to the right post where Fogarty was gleefully waiting.
Ulster had plenty of good baseline attacks down the right wing with Nichols required to hook one off the line. Freddie Morris charged down another couple of corners but once Leinster got their second, Ulster visibly tired.
It came after John Mullins nabbed back possession on the right after his initial shot was blocked by James Milliken. From the follow-up corner, Mateusz Nowakowski provided an audacious 270 degree spin before releasing it out the backdoor to a castle on the right of the circle.
Nichols flicked high and handsome to the right corner for 2-0. From there, the second half was an open and ragged affair with both sides struggling for rhythm at the end of a long weekend.
The tackles were messy with Ulster reduced to nine at one stage as they suffered three sin-binnings while Ziggy Agnew also took a break for taking the ball over shoulder-height.
But Ulster could not take any of their corner chances in spite of some subline Callum Robson skills while Leinster had a few set pieces of their own but none were required as they retained the title. Earlier in the day, Ulster had beaten Munster 3-1 to set up the final showdown.
At U-16 level, the roles were reversed with Ulster winning on goal difference despite a 4-3 loss to Leinster in their final game of the competition.
That was because Ulster won their first three games with an aggregate of plus 15 goals. It meant Leinster needed to win by at least five in the final game.
The young blues briefly threatened that incredible outcome but with two goals in the first six minutes, High School duo Alex O’Regan and Peter Lynch netting in quick succession.
But they could never get further away than that as Jake Rowe and Jack O’Grady traded goals before Ulster drew level at 3-3 in the second half.
Guy Sarratt won the game itself 4-3 for Leinster as he ripped home a drag-flick with 10 second left but Ulster won the overall laurels.
U-16 Boys Interprovincials
Sunday: Ulster 4 (J Hermon 2, J Rowe, C Getty) Munster 0; Leinster 4 (A O’Regan, P Lynch, J O’Grady, G Sarratt) Ulster 3 (J Rowe, M Crookshanks, J Hermon)
Standings: 1. Ulster 9pts (+14) 2. Leinster 9pts (+7) 3. Munster 0pts (-21)
Sunday: Ulster 3 (A Martin, P McKibbin, Z McClelland) Munster 1 (J Dale); Leinster 2 (A Fogarty, R Nichols) Ulster 0
Standings: 1. Leinster 9pts (+7) 2. Ulster 9pts (+3) 3. Munster 0pts (-10)