IRFU Interprovincial Championship Round 1: Connacht and Munster triumph

IRFU Interprovincial Championship Round 1: Connacht and Munster triumph
Grace Fisher
Grace Fisher

Connacht threw the Vodafone Women's Interprovincial Championship title race wide open with an epic 18-17 win over a much-fancied Leinster at the Sportsground.

Ireland international Méabh Deely gleefully scored the all-important 81st-minute try, but Connacht still had to endure eight more minutes - including a penalty miss from Leinster captain Hannah O'Connor - before being confirmed as winners of this six-try thriller.

Connacht's only previous Interpro victory over Leinster was an 8-5 triumph at Tuam RFC back in December 2016, and this result gives Lyndon Jones' charges a real shot at making September's final.

The first round clash exploded into life with a Deely try after just 94 seconds. A penalty from captain and Vodafone player-of-the-match Nicole Fowley had the westerners leading 8-5 at half-time.


Despite the rain and wind, Leinster lock Eimear Corri showed her finishing skills with a terrific 15th-minute score. Aoife Wafer also starred for the Blues on her debut, albeit that she spent 10 minutes in the sin bin.

The visitors looked to be taking control when Sene Taiti-Fanene and new cap Naoise O'Reilly both crossed during the third quarter. The home side were suddenly trailing 17-8 and with centre Clara Barrett in the sin bin.

Meanwhile, Waterford duo Ellen Boylan and Brianna Heylmann marked their Vodafone Women's Interprovincial Championship debuts with second half tries as defending champions Munster ran out 41-14 bonus point winners over Ulster.

Murray Houston's first game in charge of Ulster saw them produce a strong performance across the opening hour at City of Armagh RFC, with Maebh Clenaghan's 55th-minute try reducing the arrears to 10 points.


However, Niamh Briggs' side sealed the result through closing scores from replacements Boylan and Heylmann, and Vodafone player-of-the-match Stephanie Carroll also completed her hat-trick late on.

Munster had led 17-7 at the end of a tightly-contested first half, with Ella Durkan's converted try briefly having the hosts ahead in between two Carroll five-pointers. Clodagh O'Halloran crossed in the 36th minute to extend the visitors' advantage.

The closing 40 minutes saw Deirbhile Nic a Bháird, a real game breaker during last season's tournament, have the desired impact off the bench for seven-try Munster. They are back at Musgrave Park next Saturday to play Connacht, while Ulster take on Leinster at Energia Park.

Full-back Deely, still just 22, rallied Connacht by setting up replacement Orla Dixon to score on the hour mark. Even better followed when the Ballinasloe native gathered Barrett's offload to complete her brace and decide the contest.

ULSTER 14 MUNSTER 41, City of Armagh RFC
Scorers: Ulster: Tries: Ella Durkan, Maebh Clenaghan; Cons: Ella Durkan 2
Munster: Tries: Stephanie Carroll 3, Clodagh O'Halloran, Roisin Ormond, Ellen Boylan, Brianna Heylmann; Cons: Kate Flannery 3
HT: Ulster 7 Munster 17

CONNACHT 18 LEINSTER 17, the Sportsground
Scorers: Connacht: Tries: Méabh Deely 2, Orla Dixon; Pen: Nicole Fowley
Leinster: Tries: Eimear Corri, Sene Taiti-Fanene, Naoise O'Reilly; Con: Dannah O'Brien
HT: Connacht 8 Leinster 5


Sign Up to our newsletter

Processing your request...

Follow us for more