Double dream still on for Leinster

U-21 Interprovincials – day two round-up
Leinster remain in the hunt for both the U-21 titles as both the men and women picked up 2-1 wins over Munster on day two in Garryduff, keeping retention hopes alive.

The women are in the strongest position as – following Saturday’s 7-0 win – just a draw against Ulster will see them over the line while even a loss could be enough due to their goal difference superiority.

It was hard work against Munster, though, as they were unable to out the game to bed despite 11 penalty corners and absolute dominance. A roving Niamh Atcheler and a lively performance from Sarah Greene in midfield helped pin Munster in their own 25 for the guts of the tie but a go-ahead goal only came in the 45th minute.

Seven corners had passes at this stage but a neat switch left to Nicola Gray saw the shot half-stopped and the ball spinning on the line where Atcheler and Sorcha Conway both threw themselves at the loose ball to scramble in.

But it did not open the floodgates and the Southern province provided a sucker-punch, a first meaningful shot on goal, with just eight minutes to go as Yvonne O’Byrne hared down the right and knocked home at the near post.

Leinster responded, however, with a little over three minutes to go as they recovered the ball after Amy-Kate Trevor had taken an initial shot off the line, working the ball around the circle to Hayley Mulcahy and she arrowed an excellent diagonal shot into the left corner.

It leaves the blues on six points, three clear of Ulster who got off the mark with a hard-won 3-0 victory over Connacht. The northerners held most of the possession throughout but Connacht will rue a couple of gilt-edge chances with just one in the difference.

Kerri McDonald and Dawn Axon were the class acts. The former smashed home a corner third phase and the lively Axon jinked before bouncing a reverse-sticked second in the 51st minute. McDonald’s delightful touch to Leah Ewart’s hit completed the run. They most likely require at least a three-goal win on Monday against Leinster to have any chance of winning the title.

On the men’s side, Leinster came from a goal down to beat an ill-tempered Munster who endured three yellow cards in a tetchy tie to set up a battle royale with Ulster on Monday morning.

Fionn O’Leary opened the scoring with an excellent open-hand effort but Leinster scored while Munster were short-handed with Shane O’Donoghue making a fine run to get free in the circle and applied a brilliant deflection to a crash ball.
Peter English’s drag-flick completed the turnaround. Ireland’s U-18s picked up a second successive draw, Ben Cosgrove and Scott Sullivan cancelling out Stephen Dowds’ double.

** Photos courtesy of Adrian Boehm; full sets of photos from the weekend will be posted in due course

Men: Ireland U-18 2 (S Sullivan, B Cosgrove) Ulster 2 (S Dowds 2); Munster 1 (F O’Leary) Leinster 2 (S O’Donoghue, P English)
Standings: 1 Ulster 4pts (+2); 2 Leinster 4pts (+1); 3 Ireland U18 2pts (0); 4 Munster 0pts (-3)
Monday: Ulster v Leinster (11.30pm); Munster v Ireland U18, 1.30pm

Women: Ulster 3 (K McDonald 2, D Axon) Connacht 0; Munster 1 (Y O’Byrne) Leinster 2 (N Atcheler, H Mulcahy)
Standings: 1 Leinster 6pts (+8); 2 Ulster 3pts (+2); 3 Munster 3pts (0); 4 Connacht 0pts (-10)
Monday: Ulster v Leinster, 9.30am; Munster v Connacht (3.30pm)

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