Thursday 26 April 2018

Connacht let it slip to suffer inter-pro heartache

U-20s Inter-Provincial

Munster’s Gavin Coombes tackles Connacht’s Mark O’Dowd during their U-20s inter-provincial
Munster’s Gavin Coombes tackles Connacht’s Mark O’Dowd during their U-20s inter-provincial
Connacht U-20s applaud the victorious Munster side
The Connacht team was dominant in the scrum
John Joe McIlwrath scored a try for the U-19s against Munster

Connacht U-20s, sponsored by NUIG, came into their final inter-provincial fixture with renewed confidence after disposing of Ulster last week with a convincing win.

The home side started brightly and dominated the early exchanges, moving into a 17-0 advantage heading into the break.

Just on half-time Munster received a lifeline with a try in the corner on the College Road end to leave the score 17-5 at the break.

Connacht extended their advantage with a penalty after the interval but a second try from Munster brought the visitors right back into the contest. Connacht kicked a second penalty before Munster closed the gap to six points with a try which was converted to leave it 23-17 to the home side.

There was heartbreak at the death for the home side as Munster turned over the ball in the Connacht half and progressed up the field.

After maintaining possession through several phases of play, Munster managed to run in a try under the posts, the try was subsequently converted to hand Munster the Inter-pro title.

U-19s Inter-Provincial

The Connacht u19s, sponsored by NUIG, took on their Munster counterparts in the second leg of an Inter-provincial double header at the Sportsground on Saturday evening. In front of a good crowd, the Connacht side put in arguably their best display of the campaign against a powerful Munster side.

With seven of their squad unavailable due to injury Connacht faced a difficult task from the outset. Darrog Smith was released from his commitments with the U-20s and Jasper Byrne moved up from the u18s to fill voids in the 23-man squad.

Connacht, who never lacked endeavour throughout the Inter-pro series, could not match the clinical finishing which characterised the visitors and this proved costly.

The combination of superior finishing and missed tackles condemned the Eamonn Molloy-coached side to a disappointing defeat.

The top Connacht performers on the day were John Joe McIlwrath, Sam Hastings and Shane O'Hehir, who all bagged tries for the westerners. Luke Carty added two conversions but this wasn't enough to peg back a determined Munster squad. The score at full-time was Connacht U-19s 19 Munster u-19s 51.

U-18s Inter-Provincial

A good start from the Connacht U-18s, who are sponsored by NUIG, was thwarted by Leinster's stoic defence last Saturday in the final Inter-pro of the series in the Sportsground.

Despite concerted initial pressure from the Connacht pack, the Leinster defensive line stood firm and just when Connacht looked to have created the space for an overlap, Leinster's Conor Dunne intercepted a pass to sprint the length of the pitch to score the first try of the game after nearly half an hour.

Leinster added another try before the break when Connacht failed to deal with a formidable Leinster maul to lead 14-0 going into the interval.

Scrum-half and captain Barry Walsh kicked three points for Connacht after the break and with both teams reduced by sin-binnings, the game started to open up, and both sides were able to exploit the extra man advantage at various stages.

Leinster added two tries in the second half before Connacht's Micheál O'Reilly added to the home side's tally after Leinster's ruck defence was caught napping.

The conversion brought Connacht to within 10 points but the game was out of sight by the time Leinster's winger Peter Breen crossed for the visitors' fifth try of the game, the conversion leaving the final score at Leinster 33 Connacht 10.

Leinster's Stuart Bailey was on hand to present the U-18 Championship Trophy to captain Conor Nash as Leinster retained their U-18 Inter-pro title.

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