Ulster slumped to their second defeat in the Celtic Cup with Munster working them over, with something to spare, at Shawsbridge on Friday evening. The 12 – 31 scoreline flattering Ulster who never really hit their straps.
This game was a far cry from the vibrant and exciting Ulster performances we saw in the opening rounds of the competition and Munster, who have had a decidedly poor campaign, outfought Ulster in nearly every aspect of play.
In fairness, Ulster went into the game with little to play for, a 14 – 31 win for Leinster against Connacht at the Sportsground, a few hours earlier, meaning that Ulster’s final berth was already secured, but Ulster have been looking lacklustre in their last few outings and they will need to up their game considerably if they are to cause Leinster any problems in the final next weekend.
The home team had parachuted “senior squad members” Johnny Stewart and Angus Kernohan into the back line for this one but once again it didn’t really work. The senior two had decent enough games but it was at the detriment of the rest of the back line who never really got their timings right in attack – not that there were that many!
A cagey opening quarter saw the teams test each other out. Munster had the better of play and as the quarter ended they came close twice with Alex McHenry having a spectacular dive in the corner disallowed before Craig Casey was beaten to a touchdown by Graham Curtis.
It was somewhat against the run of play when Ulster opened the scoring through a David McCann try on the 33rd minute. On one of the few occasions that he got the ball in space, Kernohan took on the defence down the right before cutting inside to feed McCann who strolled over untouched. The conversion was missed and Ulster took a 5 – 0 lead into the break.
Munster took the lead at the start of the second half with Conor Oliver going over after a period of sustained pressure. Ben Healy added the conversion to give Munster a two point lead.
Munster continued to apply the pressure but an interception from Curtis saw the winger sprint home from his own 22 to finish under the post. Bruce Houston converted to give Ulster a 12 – 7 lead.
Unfortunately, that was it from the home team as Munster dominated the rest of the game running in three converted tries and knocking over a penalty. Ireland U20’s captain, Jack O’Sullivan and the hard working McHenry were amongst the scorers as the visitors banged in 24 unanswered points.
A disappointing end to Ulster’s Celtic Cup league campaign and they will need to regroup and rediscover their form ahead of next weekend’s final.
ULSTER A: Ethan McIlroy, Angus Kernohan, Hayden Hyde, Ben Power, Graham Curtis, Bruce Houston, Jonny Stewart, Tommy O’Hagan, Zack McCall, Andrew Warwick, David O’Connor, Jack Regan, Joe Dunleavy, David McCann, Marcus Rea. Replacements: Tom Stewart, Callum Reid, Peter Cooper, Matthew Dalton, Matthew Agnew, Nathan Doak, Luke Pollock, Conor Rankin.
MUNSTER A: Alan Tynan, Sean French, Alex McHenry, Jack Delaney, Liam Coombes, Ben Healy, Craig Casey, Corrie Barrett, Kieran O’Shea, Brian Scott, Sean O’Connor, Cian Hurley, Conor Oliver, Jack Daly, Jack O’Sullivan. Replacements: Daniel O’Connor, Mark Donnelly, James Kendrick, Luke Clohessy, John Hodnett, Jack Stafford, Jack Crowley, Jamie Shanahan.