Watkins gives Leinster impetus

Gareth Watkins’ hat-trick gave Leinster the major impetus on the opening night of the men’s senior interprovincial championships as they smashed a listless Ulster 4-1 at Grange Road last night.

The Monkstown striker bashed home on his open side in the seventh minute following a long-straight ball worked its way through the heart of the northern province’s defence.

He doubled up with an improvised reverse-stick strike with half-time closing in. Peter Blakeney swept home to make it 3-0 early in the second half before Watkins got the simplest of tap-ins to Alan Sothern’s cross for a comfortable lead.

Ulster offered little but pulled one back in the final via Timmy Cockram’s drag-flick.

Earlier, the Leinster U-21s came from a goal behind to beat their Ulster counterparts 2-1. Neal Hamilton opened the deadlock in the fourth minute but a concerted second half effort saw Brian Doherty level with a drag-flick and Jonathon Kane squeeze in the winner while Ulster were down to nine players.

In the women’s competition, Ulster and Leinster were both pushed all the way before scoring second half winners.

Stephanie Quinn swept home a 42nd minute corner switch to out-gun a game Connacht outfit who came close to forcing an equaliser late on.

Leinster, meanwhile, had to wait until the 58th minute before Jean McDonnell grabbed the winner against a Munster side who shaded the possession stakes but could not break down the home defence. Pamela Smithwick pulled off a pair of fine saves late on to keep hold of the points.

Senior Men
Leinster 4 (Gareth Watkins 3, Peter Blakeney) Ulster 1 (Timmy Cockram)

Senior Women:
Ulster 1 (Stephanie Quinn) Connacht 0; Leinster 1 (Jean McDonnell) Munster 0

U-21 Men:
Leinster 2 (Brian Doherty, Jonathon Kane) Ulster 1 (Neil Hamilton)

* For more of Deryck Vincent’s photos from the women’s Leinster vs Munster fixture click here and for the men’s Leinster vs Ulster match, click here.

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