The Leinster juniors landed the men’s interprovincial title with something to spare as victories in the first three ties saw them over the line with a game in the tank.
It was a fine performance for a scratch team that came together under Enda Tucker and David Keogh just a couple of weeks before the tournament but wasted little time in getting accustomed to each other.
They opened with a 4-0 win over Munster. Early on, Shane Dempsey had two early corner chances well saved but they deservedly went ahead when Peter Yates finished off a bit of a scramble in the D.
It stayed that way until the second half as Munster drew some good stops from Stephen Cairns. From there, they went through the gears and Iain Walker scored a screamer for number two, beating a few players inside the 25 before smashing home on his reverse.
Luke Hayden made it three two minutes later with a classy backhand finish and Weston man Adam Clayton closed out the win with a minute to go.
Game two of the day proved trickier. Ulster came flying out of the traps, winning a stroke inside two minutes which Stuart Todd converted. It took a while for Leinster to get to grips with the challenge against a fresher northern side playing their first game of the day.
But they soon got to grips with the tie. Tim Cullen’s clever overheads into space helped Clayton, Phil Powderly, Adam Brennan and Yates all drive at Ulster at pace.
With Hayden at the core of everything and Leinster working incredibly hard, the blues drew level when Shane Dempsey roofed a drag flick. Piling on the pressure, Walker got his second of the tournament, calmly slotting home passed an on rushing keeper.
Powderly scored the goal of the game minutes before half time, volleying home wide on the left after great work down the right wing from Yates, beating two players along the base line.
The second half kept a fast pace throughout which suited Leinster. With 10 to go, Dempsey made it 4-1, scoring his second of the game wrong footing the keeper off a drag flick. Ulster got a consolation goal with two left via Mitchell Greer.
Ulster and Munster played out a lively 4-4 draw in the final game of day one, meaning that a win for Leinster in the first game of Sunday would land them the trophy.
The game proved to be much feistier than the previous day with five cards dished out for a few unsavoury tackles. Leinster went for it early and drew a few quality saves from the Ulster keeper.
Ulster, for their part, were causing problems too and Cairns was called upon twice to make big saves, one from a short corner and another rushing out in a 1v1.
It was 0-0 at the break after both Powderly and Cullen missed a stroke with the ball hitting a body on the line for one and Walker been taken out for the second.
Ulster threw everything at Leinster in the second half which brought massive performances from Stuart Bradley, Cooney, Alan McLoughlin and Cullen at the back, winning tackle after tackle.
Indeed, they played the majority of the tournament with Hayden and Bradley playing every minute of the tournament while Cullen and Cooney would have done likewise but for green cards in the final match.
Leinster were always looking dangerous and with five minutes to go, Hayden nicked the ball off an Ulster defender on the half way line and passed to Dempsey who was 40 metres out from goal.
Two versus one with Walker on hand, he chose to shoot as he entered the D, smashing into the top corner to give Leinster the lead leaving the keeper with no chance.
Leinster kept the ball for the remaining five to see the game out and win the tournament. It meant their final game was academic.
In the lashing rain on Sunday afternoon, Munster took one of the their three chances to take a lead going into half time from a broken down corner. Karl Crosbie made two great saves early on also.
Jack Perdue, John Pearson and Eamonn Walsh were putting in a ton of work despite the conditions and Leinster had plenty of chances to draw level, drawing numerous saves from an excellent Munster Keeper.
The second half saw Munster defending deep which made it difficult for Leinster to enter the D. On the final whistle, Dempsey drew two great saves from the Munster keeper leaving Munster with the three points 1-0.
On the women’s side, Leinster fell to an opening 2-0 loss to Ulster with Laura White and Nicole Graham scoring the goals. It left them playing catch-up on the Sunday and they started well with a 6-0 win against the South East but a 3-1 defeat to Munster.
Indeed, the result was enough for the southern province to win the title on goal difference.
Men’s Junior Interprovincial results
Saturday: Munster 0 Leinster 4; Leinster 4 Ulster 2; Ulster 4 Munster 4
Sunday: Ulster 0 Leinster 1; Munster 3 Ulster 2; Munster 1 Leinster 0
Standings: 1. Leinster 9pts (+6) 2. Munster 7pts (-2) 3. Ulster 1pt (-4)
Women’s Junior Interprovincial:
Saturday: Munster 5 South East 0; Leinster 0 Ulster 2; Ulster 4 South East 1
Sunday: Leinster 6 South East 0; Munster 1 Ulster 1; Leinster 1 Munster 3
Standings: 1. Munster 7pts (+7) 2. Ulster 7pts (+5) 3. Leinster 3pts (+2) 4. South East 0pts (-14)