Leinster claim seventh Interpro title with runaway win over Munster

Leinster claim seventh Interpro title with runaway win over Munster
Grace Fisher
Grace Fisher

MUNSTER 14 LEINSTER 33, Musgrave Park
Scorers: Munster: Tries: Deirbhile Nic a Bháird, Chloe Pearse; Cons: Nicole Cronin 2
Leinster: Tries: Penalty try, Leah Tarpey 2, Hannah O'Connor, Elise O'Byrne-White; Cons: Pen try con, Dannah O'Brien 3
HT: Munster 14 Leinster 14

Two-try centre Leah Tarpey starred as three unanswered second half tries gave Leinster a runaway 33-14 final win over Munster and their first Vodafone Women's Interprovincial Championship crown since 2019.

Tarpey touched down either side of half-time in the Musgrave Park decider, before experienced duo Hannah O'Connor, the captain, and Elise O'Byrne-White, on her 27th appearance in blue, made it a five-try triumph in the end.

Deirbhile Nic a Bháird was at her inspirational best for three-in-a-row hopefuls Munster, darting over for an opening 15th-minute try before helping to set up Chloe Pearse's effort that had the hosts back in front.


However, Leinster squared things up at 14-all for half-time with a timely Tarpey score which supplemented the penalty try which had seen Munster prop Róisín Ormond yellow carded.

Having beaten their arch rivals 26-19 in Donnybrook last week to reach the final, Tania Rosser's charges struck again through Tarpey, the Vodafone player-of-the-match, and fellow Ireland international Dannah O'Brien began to exert more control from out-half.

Leinster hammered home their dominance in the scrum for O'Connor to score from the base in the 63rd minute, and replacement O'Byrne-White finished off a Natasja Behan break to confirm title number seven for her province.

It was only Munster's second defeat in 11 Interprovincial matches, but despite the home support, they fell short against a Leinster side that, having being stung by Connacht in the first round, saved their best for last.


Head coach Rosser had given nine debuts in this season's tournament, and only O'Byrne-White, Sene Taiti-Fanene, Ailsa Hughes, Linda Djougang, O'Connor and Christy Haney remain from Leinster's matchday squad that clinched the 2019 Championship in the most recent Interpro final to take place.

The play-offs were brought back this year to extend the series to four rounds, giving the players more high-level game-time leading into the start of the Energia All-Ireland League and Ireland's first WXV3 campaign under new head coach Scott Bemand.

It had been looking slightly ominous for Leinster inside the opening two minutes in sunny Cork. Breaks from Eimear Considine and Maeve Óg O'Leary had the Reds pressing for a try, before their skipper Dorothy Wall uncharacteristically knocked on just metres out.

Munster continued to pile on the pressure, but turnover penalties won by Behan and Aoife Wafer saw Leinster hold firm at the expense of losing teenage lock Ruth Campbell for a spell due to injury.

However, the breakthrough came on the quarter hour mark when Leinster's defence was caught too narrow. The pacy Nic a Bháird was sent breaking outside both Eimear Corri and Anna Doyle and inside Behan's attempted tackle for a fine try which Nicole Cronin from straight in front.

The impressive Tarpey, who stands at 5ft 10in and recently turned 20, led Leinster's response. Her stellar break from midfield was well supported by Wafer. Munster were able to force handling errors, though, as they rushed up in defence.

O'Brien brushed off a overcooked touchfinder to get every inch out of a penalty into the right corner, nearing the half hour mark. Leinster's scrum duly turned the table and the pressure put on at a couple of five-metre put-ins earned them a penalty try.

It was a double blow for Munster as loosehead Ormond saw yellow for her second scrum infringement. Nic a Bháird was again their go-to player, digging in to win a turnover penalty and throwing accurately at the lineout before Pearse piled in under the posts.

Although Cronin restored Munster's seven-point lead, the Blues bit back just before the break. O'Brien, who had a lovely piece of skill to collect a pass with a Gaelic football-style solo, put her pack in another gilt-edged position from a penalty.

They converted the late pressure into a levelling seven-pointer after Campbell had stepped off her right to good effect, drawing them close to the try-line. Munster halted her progress but Tarpey came hurtling onto a pass and reached out to score despite Dorothy Wall's tackle.

The Laois youngster, just a fortnight on from winning her first Leinster cap, soon increased her influence to move the 2018 and 2019 champions in front for the first time. Aoife Dalton's neat tip-on pass freed up her centre partner to storm over past Stephanie Nunan and Stephanie Carroll, making it 21-14.

The momentum had come from another scrum penalty won by Leinster, whose maul had Lisa Callan breaking downfield with the supporting Wafer almost scoring near the right corner.

Cronin nearly created an opportunist try in response, Munster flooding forward before their wily number 10 spotted space out wide on the right. A kinder bounce might had seen Aoife Doyle score, but her right foot found the end line.

The physicality and intensity of the final remained at an unrelentingly high level. Niamh Briggs' Munster outfit were unable to punish some loose kicking from their opponents, and they were guilty of playing the ball on the ground twice.

O'Brien let Munster off the hook by missing touch from a penalty, entering the final quarter, although Dorothy Wall and Pearse did likewise, spoiling a Munster maul by conceding a penalty for obstruction.

Number 8 O'Connor got Leinster back on track, turning a messy lineout into a strong break and a promising handful of attacking phases. Following Nunan's departure for a head injury, a power-packed five-metre scrum shunted Munster backwards and teed up O'Connor for try number four.

Despite O'Brien's conversion bouncing away off the right hand post, Munster's likely fight-back needed to come quickly at 26-14 down. It was Leinster who were finding more gaps now, though, and replacement scrum half Hughes' spritely break was ended by a knock-on.

Nic a Bháird was annoyed by what she felt was a high tackle from Hughes off the back of a scrum, but there was no card forthcoming. It was a frustrating end-game for the otherwise-excellent number 8 whose own knock-on indirectly led to Leinster's final try.

Tidy hands from Dalton put Behan bursting through a gap from halfway and she fed winger O'Byrne-White to her left for a rousing 30-metre run-in. O'Brien followed up with her best place-kick of the day, drawing the difficult conversion over from out wide.

Aoife Corey was the pick of Munster's bench, running back kicks with interest and exploiting space out wide. However, with Taiti-Fanene turning over Nic a Bháird, and Katie Whelan tackling Ellen Boylan into touch, Leinster saw out the result in defiant fashion.

TIME LINE: 15 minutes - Munster try: Deirbhile Nic a Bháird - 5-0; conversion: Nicole Cronin - 7-0; 30 mins - Leinster try: Penalty try & conversion - 7-7; Munster yellow card: Róisín Ormond; 33 mins - Munster try: Chloe Pearse - 12-7; conversion: Nicole Cronin - 14-7; 40 mins - Leinster try: Leah Tarpey - 14-12; conversion: Dannah O'Brien - 14-14; Half-time - Munster 14 Leinster 14; 45 mins - Leinster try: Leah Tarpey - 14-19; conversion: Dannah O'Brien - 14-21; 64 mins - Leinster try: Hannah O'Connor - 14-26; conversion: missed by Dannah O'Brien - 14-26; 73 mins - Leinster try: Elise O'Byrne-White - 14-31; conversion: Dannah O'Brien - 14-33; Full-time - Munster 14 Leinster 33

MUNSTER: Eimear Considine; Aoife Doyle, Alana McInerney, Stephanie Nunan, Stephanie Carroll; Nicole Cronin, Muirne Wall; Róisín Ormond, Ciara Farrell, Fiona Reidy, Dorothy Wall (capt), Clodagh O’Halloran, Chloe Pearse, Maeve Óg O'Leary, Deirbhile Nic a Bháird.

Replacements used: Eilís Cahill for Reidy (34 mins), Beth Buttimer for Farrell, Aoife Corey for Considine (both 46), Kate Flannery for Cronin, Reidy for Ormond (both 55), Cronin for Nunan (63), Jane Clohessy for O'Halloran (70), Claire Bennett for Wall (75), Brianna Heylmann for O'Leary, Ellen Boylan for Doyle (both 78).

LEINSTER: Natasja Behan; Aimee Clarke, Aoife Dalton, Leah Tarpey, Anna Doyle; Dannah O’Brien, Katie Whelan; Linda Djougang, Lisa Callan, Christy Haney, Ruth Campbell, Eimear Corri, Aoife Wafer, Molly Boyne, Hannah O’Connor (capt).

Replacements used: Aoife Moore for Campbell (10-22 mins), Elise O'Byrne-White for Doyle (24), Ailsa Hughes for Whelan (half-time), Sarah Delaney for Callan (53), Whelan for Clarke (61), Moore for Djougang (66), Caoimhe Molloy for Haney (75), Nikki Caughey for O'Brien, Katelynn Doran for Boyne, Sene Taiti-Fanene for Tarpey (all 78).

Referee: Stuart Douglas (IRFU)

Sign Up to our newsletter

Stay in the game! Get top women's sports stories, event updates, and exclusive competitions delivered to your inbox weekly!

Processing your request...

Follow us for more

Sign Up to our newsletter

Stay in the game! Get top women's sports stories, event updates, and exclusive competitions delivered to your inbox weekly!

Processing your request...

Follow us for more