The southern province has historically won just one in every 10 titles in these competitions, which see Ulster, Leinster, Connacht, South East and Munster compete in a round-robin tournament over three days and act as a selection tournament for the national underage panels. Munster U16s last claimed glory in 2002, while you’ve to go back another three years for the most recent U18 success.
Ulster and Leinster’s impressive development structures and higher player numbers help them dominate but there is the odd outlier, such as Connacht’s U16 success in 2008.
Munster U18s have plenty going for them, with almost half of last year’s panel still in situ and an easy familiarity with a management setup led by Malcolm Coombes that has progressed up the ranks along with the players over the past five seasons.
Five of their number — goalkeepers Emma Buckley and Kathryn Buckley, Michelle Barry, Roisin Begley and Laura Foley — bring Irish international experience while most of the squad have defeats of Leinster and Ulster teams at this level in their memory banks. They’ll likely need to topple both opponents here to go the extra step.
By contrast, the U16s have a fresh look in every sense. Alan Good is in his first year as head coach and his side features just four players from last year’s side that came second in Lisnagarvey — Ireland U16 Caoimhe Perdue, skipper Amy Buttimer, Saoirse Griffin and three-time U16 interpro representative Lauren Ryan.
There are three sets of sisters straddling the U16 and U18 squads, which added extra spice to the warm-up games between the sides. They include Mount Mercy’s Emma and Ciara Buckley — both goalkeepers — Bandon Grammar’s Jenny and Amy Buttimer, and Ashton HC duo Michelle and Nikki Barry.
K Buckley (GK, Villiers/Fermoy, capt), E Buckley (GK, Mount Mercy/Cork Hquins), M Barry (Ashton HC), R Begley (Laurel Hill/Catholic Inst), A Bourke (Crescent Comp /Catholic Inst), I Burns (Bandon Grammar/Bandon), J Buttimer (Bandon Grammar/Bandon), Aoife Collins (St Angela’s/Cork C of I), J Clein (Crescent Comp/Catholic Inst), E Cripps (Mount Mercy/Cork Harlequins), K Desmond (Bandon Grammar/Bandon), L Foley (Laurel Hill/Limerick), R Herlihy (Ursuline Thurles/Fermoy), J Kirby Crescent Comp/Catholic Inst, vice-capt), A Martin (Mount Mercy/Cork Hquins), N O’Keeffe (Crescent Comp /Catholic Inst), M O’Mahony (Cork CoI, vice-capt), N Sexton (Loreto Fermoy/Fermoy).
H Humphreys (GK St Angela’s/Ashton), A Kingston (St Angela’s/Ashton), A Horan (Crescent Comp/Catholic Inst);
D Burkley; Head coach: M Coombes; Asst coach: D Wolfe; GK Coach: J Dennis; Physio: S Murphy.
T Amodeo (Villiers/Catholic Inst), J Barry (Scoil Mhuire/Cork C of I), N Barry (Scoil Mhuire/Ashton), M Birdthistle (GK, Villiers/Catholic Inst), C Buckley (GK, Mount Mercy/Cork Harlequins), A Buttimer (Bandon Grammar/Bandon, capt), K Coombes (Regina Mundi/Cork C of I, vice-capt), S Griffin (Mount Mercy/Cork Harlequins), R Kingston (Bandon Grammar/Cork C of I), J Lawless (Ashton/Cork C of I), O O’Connor (Regina Mundi/Cork C of I), R O’Donnell (Scoil Mhuire/Cork C of I), A O’Farrell (Mount Mercy/Cork Harlequins), A O’Mahony (Scoil Mhuire/Cork C of I), C Perdue (Ursulines Thurles/Cashel New Inn), L Ryan (Villiers/Catholic Inst), M Scanlon (Villiers/Limerick, capt), O Wixted (Crescent Comp/Catholic Inst).
L McHugh (GK, Midleton Coll/Cork C of I), A Horan (Crescent Comp/Catholic Inst), R Oppermann (Midleton College/Cork C of I), L Clery (Crescent Comp/Catholic Inst), S Murphy (Mount Mercy/Cork Harlequins).
M Murphy; Head coach: A Good; Asst coach: A Holland; GK Coach: I Buckley.