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Dominant Blues eye Shield spots

SOCCER: Leinster continued their dominance of the FAI Schoolboys Interprovincial Tournament last weekend with an 11th title in 13 years and, perhaps more impressive, a fifth success on the bounce.

The three-day, four-team competition is used primarily as a competitive trial process for U18 Irish Schools boss Ollie Horgan ahead of the spring's Centenary Shield campaign.


Horgan would have been especially excited to see the impact of Connacht this year, who only needed a point from Sunday's decider against the holders in Willow Park, Athlone to take the title.

However, Leinster's dominance of the competition has not come without resolve and Luke Fitzgibbon of Naas CBS and Clonkeen College's Paul Moffat scored goals in either half to see off the Westerners.

Leinster boss Paul McShane saw his side kick off with an impressive 2-0 victory over regular adversaries Munster in Leah Victoria Park, Tullamore on Friday evening.

Despite being the last side to deny Leinster a title, Munster's hopes of repeating their 2006 success looked unlikely once Alan Gannon of St Joseph's Fairview and Toyeeb Mustapha of St Aidan's CC in Tallaght settled the game. Despite Connacht seeing off Ulster 2-1 on the same night, Leinster were unable to repeat that outcome against the Northerners on the Saturday.

Gannon and Mustapha were again on the scoresheet, but Ulster struck twice themselves to split the points and give Connacht the advantage heading into the final day following a 3-2 success over Munster.

Despite Blackrock's Ryan Matthews setting Fitzgibbon up for the opening goal in the deciding game on the final day, Connacht put one hand on the trophy when Conor Byrne equalised just after the break.

But, with only 15 minutes left, Sean Maguire of CBS Kilkenny produced a wonderfully skillful run to open space for Moffat to seal the victory and snatch the title. Munster did finish with a 4-1 win over Ulster on the final day to leave the beaten side last in the group, but all eyes were on Leinster once again when it came to presenting the trophy.

Leinster's players, and the best of the rest, will now hope they have done enough to be part of the Centenary Shield squad for the March opener against Northern Ireland in Limerick.

Australia are up first in January, while New Zealand complete the friendly double-header two months later, with both games in Dublin.

LEINSTER SQUAD: Stephen McGuinness (Coláiste Chraobh Abhann, Kilcoole), Adam O'Connor (Drimnagh Castle SS), Paul Gannon (St Joseph's, Fairview), Pierce Sweeney (Coláiste Raithin, Bray), Ryan Matthews (Clonkeen College, Blackrock), Paul Moffat (Clonkeen College), Craig Burke (Donahies CS), Luke Fitzgibbon (Naas CBS), Alan Gannon (St Joseph's, Fairview), Sean Maguire (CBS Kilkenny), Sean Hurley (CBS Arklow), Ger Pender (St Brendan's College, Bray), Mark Lyons (Knockbeg College, Carlow), Toyeeb Mustapha (St Aidan's CC, Tallaght), James Mullaney (Mountrath CS), Niall Corbett (Clonaslee VC, Laois)

LEINSTER MANAGEMENT: John McShane (Dublin Oak Academy, Bray), Paddy O'Reilly (Trinity Comprehensive School, Ballymun), Conor Foley (Athlone Community College).