The domestic hockey curtain raises this weekend at Garryduff, Cork with the Under-18 and 16 boys inteprovincial tournament taking centre stage from Friday, September 14 to Sunday, September 16.
Leinster go into the competition as the reigning champions, edging out Ulster on goal difference by just a single strike.
The blues have a quartet of returnees from that vintage: John Greaney, Riley Marchant, Harry Lynch, captain Mark Duggan and Cian Murphy. Murphy played with the Irish Under-21s earlier this year while Lynch and Duggan lined out for the national Under-18s, showing their quality. They are part of a side coached once again by Simon Lowry.
Ulster will be gunning for revenge in their meeting and come into the competition off the back of a fine run at the UK Schools Games. Oliver Kidd and Troy Chambers were in red-hot form at the tournament, netting five and four times respectively en route to the silver medal.
Indeed, their two wins and two draws came in hotly contested tournament games last week and this may give them a competitive edge to try and win back the title.
For Munster, Kevin O’Dea and Andrew Salter have made inroads with the Cork C of I first team already while Declan Coffey and Sam Lilburn are among those with prior Under-18 experience to bring to the party.
They impressed in Wales recently with a series win over the national side, showing they will continue to be more competitive than a few years back.
Under-16 level is the traditional entry-level to interpro hockey and so is a fascinating event to see the talent on show. Ulster are the boys reigning champions following three wins from four last year and they will be inspired by Olympian Peter Caruth who coaches the side.
Munster will hope to build on their second place finish of a year ago when they won one and drew two of their four games. In both boys’ competitions, each side plays each other twice in a round-robin series.
Boys interprovincial tournaments (all at Garryduff)
Friday, September 14
Under-16: Munster v Leinster, 12.30pm; Munster v Ulster, 5pm
Under-18: Munster v Leinster, 2.45pm; Munster v Ulster, 7.15pm
Saturday, September 15
Under-16: Leinster v Ulster, 10am; Leinster v Munster, 2.30pm
Under-18: Leinster v Ulster, 12.15pm; Leinster v Munster, 4.45pm
Sunday, September 16
Under-16: Ulster v Munster, 9am; Ulster v Leinster, 1.30pm
Under-18: Ulster v Munster, 11.15am; Ulster v Leinster, 3.45pm