Ulster claimed both the Under-18 and Under-16 boys interprovincial titles over the weekend, both recording unbeaten runs over the course of their respective tournaments at Garryduff.
At Under-18 level, Leinster got the tournament off to a flying start with Conor Empey’s hat trick, allied to a Guy Sarratt goal, securing a 4-0 win against the hosts Munster.
Ulster matched that tally that evening with two goals in each half. Matthew Nelson’s deflection started the run before Callum Robson got his first of a fruitful tournament with a sharp close range rebound off the post.
Nelson thumped in a reverse-stick strike before Andrew O’Hare completed the rout.
Wallace HS’s Nelson proved another key man for the northern province and he, crucially, scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win against Leinster in their first meeting of the competition on Saturday morning with another superb backhand shot.
In the first game of the second phase of games, Munster initially took the lead against Ulster with Matthew Treacy unlocking the door for Callum Crowley to slip home a lead goal five minutes in.
But Robson quickly turned things around with a pair of drag-flicks and then added one from play. Nelson made it 4-1 before Crowley got his second to reduce the deficit. Another strike from Nelson, following a mazy solo run, was augmented by a fourth from Robson and one each from Kyle Marshall and O’Hare.
It meant they needed just a point from their second meeting with Leinster on Sunday morning. Robson and Nelson were once again the destroyers in chief with the former scoring the first goal in a 2-0 success, showing some neat 3D skills before bundling the ball home.
Nelson sealed the deal when he intercepted a loose ball out of defence and swept home from the right of the circle.
It rendered the last game of the competition academic. Munster did get on the board with a 3-3 draw against Leinster as efforts from Mark Gallagher, Crowley and Andrew Tutty countered a brace from Sarratt and a fourth of the tournament from Empey.
At Under-16 level, the tournament followed a similar pattern for the first two days. Rob McCollum’s double got Leinster off to a winning start with a 3-1 success over Munster before Ulster beat the home side 5-0 with Christopher Larmour scoring twice.
Harry Dow’s goal earned Ulster a 1-0 win over Leinster on Saturday morning to give them a major advantage, one they built on significantly when Matt Milliken struck twice in a 2-1 win over Munster in the afternoon.
It meant they, like the Under-18s, needed just a draw against Leinster to secure the title and they did so in a dramatic 0-0 tie.
Leinster confirmed their second place in the table with a 3-1 win over Munster in the final game of the competition, Josh Greaney, Luke Adams and Ben O’Grady on the mark to counter-act an Eoin Nyhan effort.
U-18 (all at Garryduff)
Friday: Munster 0 Leinster 4 (C Empey 3, G Sarratt); Munster 0 Ulster 4 (C Robson, M Nelson 2, A O’Hare)
Saturday: Leinster 0 Ulster 1 (M Nelson); Munster 2 (C Crowley 2) Ulster 8 (C Robson 4, M Nelson 2, K Marshall, A O’Hare)
Sunday: Ulster 2 (C Robson, M Nelson) Leinster 0; Munster 3 (M Gallagher, C Crowley, A Tutty) Leinster 3 (G Sarratt 2, C Empey)
Final standings: 1. Ulster 12pts (+13) 2. Leinster 5pts (+1) 3. Munster 2pts (-14)
Friday: Munster 1 (R Smyth) Leinster 3 (R McCollum 2, S Harper) ; Munster 0 Ulster 5 (C Larmour 2; M Morris; P Hunter; O McElhinney)
Saturday: Leinster 0 Ulster 1 (H Dow); Munster 1 (J van Maydell) Ulster 2 (M Milliken 2)
Sunday: Ulster 0 Leinster 0; Munster 1 (E Nyhan) Leinster 3 (J Greaney, L Adams, B O’Grady)
Final standings: 1. Ulster 10pts (+7) 2. Leinster 7pts (+3) 3. Munster 0pts (-10)