Ulster U-18s and Leinster U-16s land girls interpro glory

Ulster’s Under-18s and Leinster’s Under-16s took the provincial laurels at Stormont as they both won their Sunday games, getting the result they needed to see off their rivals.

At Under-18 level, the competition was right in the mix going into the last day with Ulster, Leinster and the South East all in with a shout of the title.

Indeed, the South East – seeking their first title since 1983/84 – set the pace when Rachel Kely scored four times in two games, beating Leinster 2-1 and Connacht 4-1 to see them lead the way after two series of games.

The Ulster Under-18 interpro winning side. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Ulster, though, bounced back from a 2-2 draw against Munster on Saturday morning to beat the South East 1-0 on Saturday evening with captain Rebecca McCullough scoring the only goal of the game.

In conjunction with a single goal win on Friday against Connacht – Olivia Berry on the mark – the result saw Ulster move into pole-position.

It meant a win over Leinster on Sunday would give them a 34th title. The blues, though, had won against both Munster and Connacht, meaning if they could beat Ulster, they would be in title contention.

In a very cagey tie, it was scoreless at half-time. Again, McCullough settled the game with a single goal, firing home a low penalty corner. Leinster threw everything forward, forcing a couple of corners but Ulster’s defence held firm to secure the win and the title.

Munster beat South East in the tournament’s final game to move up to second overall with South East finished third and Leinster fourth.

The Under-16 tournament was more clear-cut with Leinster winning all four of their games, holding off nearest challengers Munster with something to spare.

They started in confident mood, Nicola Torrans, Emma Paul and Aisling Murray scoring a 3-0 win over Connacht before Martha McCready netted a double in a 4-0 win over South East.

India Cotter, Zoe Watterson and Orna Bools added a 3-0 win over Ulster for three wins from three. Going into Sunday’s final games, only Munster could catch them and they made a good start of their double-series of games, beating the South East 2-0.

That result kept Leinster’s final game live, requiring a draw or better to get over the line. They had the best of the first half but it took until three minutes into the second half to break the deadlock when Martha McCready finished off following an excellent Isabella Dunlop interception and assist.

Isabelle Maleady then set up Murray for 2-0 with 17 minutes to go. Emer O’Keeffe pulled one back in the closing four minutes, becoming the first player to breach the Leinster defence, but it was too late to affect the outcome.

Leinster Under-16 winning interpro side. Pic: Adrian Boehm

It meant Leinster won the title for the fourth time in five years while Munster recorded double silvers from the competition with Ulster in third place at this level.

Girls Under-18 interprovincials
Friday: Leinster 1 (C Sherin) South East 2 (R Kelly, Gardiner); Connacht 0 Ulster 1 (O Berry); Munster 0 Leinster 1 (C Hamill)
Saturday: Connacht 0 South East 4 (R Kelly 3, M Ryan); Ulster 2 (A Burns, R Houston) Munster 2 (A Buttimer, A Hickey); Connacht 1 (F Kelly) Leinster 4 (S O’Brien, C Hamill, N Twomey, L Mulcahy); Ulster 1 (McCullough) South East 0
Sunday: Connacht 1 (E McDermott) Munster 4 (R Leahy 2, A Hickey, A Buttimer); Leinster 0 Ulster 1 (R McCullough); Munster 2 (L Ryan 2) South East 1 (H Balding)

Standings: 1. Ulster 10pts (+3) 2. Munster 7pts (+3) 3. South East 6pts (+3) 3. Leinster 6pts (+2) 5. Connacht 0pts (-8)

Under-16 interprovincials
Friday: Ulster 0 South East 0; Connacht 0 Leinster 3 (N Torrans, E Paul, A Murray); Munster 1 (E O’Keeffe) Ulster 1 (McNeill)
Saturday: Leinster 4 (M McCready 2, Z Watterson, I Maleady) South East 0; Connacht 2 (J Lanagan 2) Munster 3 (R Foley, N Barry, E O’Sullivan); Ulster 0 Leinster 3 (I Cotter, Z Watterson, O Bools); Connacht 1 (Hennessy) South East 4 (Finlay 2, Ogilivie, Kelly)
Sunday: South East 0 Munster 2 (N Barry, E O’Keeffe); Connacht 0 Ulster 6 (A McNeill 3, N McIvor, J McCarlie, E Armstrong); Leinster 2 (M McCready, A Murray) Munster 1 (E O’Keeffe)

Standings: 1. Leinster 12pts (+11) 2. Munster 7pts (+2) 4. Ulster 5pts (+3) 3. South East 4pts (-3) 5. Connacht 0pts (-13)

Partners of The Hook