McKee stars as Ulster goal-blitz snatches interpro crown from Leinster grasp

Lucy McKee led Ulster’s goal rush as the northern province got the eight-goal margin needed against South East to win the U21 interpros on goal difference at Lisnagarvey yesterday.

Leinster had completed their campaign with three wins and a 1-1 draw against Ulster, and their favourable goal difference left Ulster needing eight in their final clash with South East.

Although they had potted six of those goals by the 27-minute mark, they were forced to dig deep. Vanessa Surgeoner’s corner bash got them within range with 20 minutes to go and 10 minutes from time, Lurgan striker McKee capped a superb performance with a stunning effort — her fifth goal of the game — to edge out Leinster.

It was a campaign of what might have been for third-placed Munster, who began Saturday with a 7-1 demolition of South East following a long, chaotic delay due to frozen pitches that saw some games moved to Banbridge’s Havelock Park.

But Malcolm Coombes’ charges went down 2-0 to Ulster and 2-1 to Leinster to end their title hopes, although they did finish strongly as Naomi Carroll’s double secured a 3-0 success against Connacht.

Meanwhile, Irish senior international Shane O’Donoghue proved the difference as his second hat-trick of the tournament secured glory in the men’s U21 interpros for Leinster.

Ulster looked to be heading for a first crown since 2009 as they saw off a hapless Munster 9-1 and were leading 2-1 against a lacklustre Leinster with 20 minutes to go. But two O’Donoghue corner bullets did the job for the blues, completing a 3-2 success to take the title.

It was a tournament to forget for a young Munster side, who lost the wooden spoon clash 3-1 to Ireland U18s with Cork C of I’s Simon Wolfe scoring the clincher against his native province.

Meanwhile, Three Rock Rovers will meet Monkstown in an all-Leinster Irish Senior Cup semi-final while Pembroke play Banbridge on March 23 in the other tie. Both games will be played at Belfield. Ballymoney will meet holders UCD in the women’s semi-finals while the winner of the outstanding quarter-final tie between Ards and UCC will play Railway Union.

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