Ulster U18 won the first ever U18 Inter-provincial title, maintaining their 100% record with a 20 – 8 win against Munster at Westmanstown Dublin on Saturday afternoon.
The Ulster scorers were Claire Boles, Neve Jones and Brittany Hogan, who all crossed for a try, with Lisa Mullen adding a penalty and a conversion. However, as with the previous two wins, this was a real team effort, the girls showing an incredible indomitable spirit as they chased down every lost cause to eventually wear down their opponents.
There is no doubt that Munster were up for this one as they set about Ulster from the off, keeping play in Ulster territory for most of the first half. Ulster looked scratchy with the ball in hand and struggled to clear their lines.
Crucially, however, Ulster kept their line uncrossed restricting Munster to 3 points, from a penalty, after 30 minutes of intense pressure. Just as I was thinking that turning round with a three point deficit would be no bad thing, after a half where they had been totally outplayed, the Ulster girls showed their mettle and stormed upfield for, our Player of the Game, Boles to cross on the stroke of half time, giving the girls a two point lead at the break and a huge psychological advantage.
Where Munser had dominated play, but failed to reap the rewards, in the first half the Ulster girls made no mistake in the second. The balance of power had definitely changed and Ulster set about pinning Munster in their own half, battering their line time and again as they looked for that crucial second score.
It looked as though Hogan had grounded the ball comfortably over the line only for the referee to call a knock-on but there was no mistake when, our player of the competition, Jones, battled her way through heavy traffic to record her fourth try of the tournament, Mullen adding the extras to give Ulster a 12 – 3 lead ten minutes into the second half. A penalty by Mullen pushed the score to 15 – 3 as the teams went into the final quarter.
With the game quickly spiralling away from them, the Munster girls dug deep for a response, showing good hands to score out wide. The conversion was missed from out wide but it was still a one score game at 15 – 8, however, any thoughts of a comeback were quickly squashed as Ulster dominated the remainder of the game.
Hogan claimed the final score in the 20 – 8 win with five minutes to go, giving the Ulster management some comfort over the closing minutes! 🙂
Ulster Women U18: Ciara Browne, Ellie Ingram, Leah McGoldrick, Brittany Hogan, Kelly McCormill, Vicky Irwin, Lisa Mullen, Emma Kearney, Sara Whitley, Neve Jones, Storm Cobain, Caolinn McCormack, Keelin Brady, Katie Heatherington, Claire Boles. Replacements: Megan Brodie, Grace Shresthra, Tammy Millar, Natalie Kinghan, Bethany McDowell, Carla Rafferty, Lucinda Kinghan, Ellie Rix.
It’s been a real pleasure covering this group of young players who have shown passion, commitment, skill, poise and determination beyond their years. More importantly, after 10 years of waiting, they have finally given me the chance to cover an undefeated Ulster Women’s side! 🙂 🙂 🙂