Leinster retained the IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship with a 25-12 win over Connacht at Energia Park - the first time they have won back-to-back titles.
It was a typically clinical start from the champions, who made full use of time in the opposition 22 with two tries in the first 11 minutes.
Lindsay Peat was first to strike from close range after captain Sene Naoupu’s break. Peat then turned provider three minutes later creating an overlap for Elise O’Byrne White and Leinster were 15-0 up after 20 minutes when Grace Miller touched down.
Connacht were struggling against an aggressive rush on their midfield, but that changed in the second half with the introduction of Nicole Fowley.
The out-half’s kicking game in worsening conditions put Leinster’s back three under huge pressure and Aoibheann Reilly’s quick feet in midfield gave Wasps-bound Edel McMahon the platform to go under the posts.
The new plan also unlocked the pace of Beibhinn Parsons and the young winger accelerated onto Fowley’s pass to finish off a big rumble from the Westerners’ pack on 55 minutes. For the first time in this Championship, Leinster were a try away from losing their lead in the second half.
However Ben Armstrong’s side had the time and the resources to respond. They reshuffled their backline to restore confidence under the high ball and another Naoupu break opened things up for Hannah O’Connor to score. Judy Bobbett’s try sealed the win with seven minutes remaining.
Munster vented their frustration at not making the Interprovincial decider with a 39-12 win over Ulster in the third-place playoff. The first try came after just 59 seconds through Eimear Considine, with Roisín Ormond crossing twice and Steph Carroll and Fiona Hayes scoring a try apiece.
Meanwhile, Munster’s U18 Women completed a remarkable turnaround to beat Ulster 36-7 and claim the U18 Women’s Interprovincial Championship. The province had failed to win any of their round-robin games but played with.a new lease of life in the playoff rounds of the reformatted competition.
Tries: Lindsay Peat, Elise O’Byrne White, Grace Miller, Hannah O’Connor, Judy Bobbett.
Edel McMahon, Beibhinn Parsons; Con: Nicole Fowley.
Grace Miller (Old Belvedere); Elise O’Byrne-White (Old Belvedere), Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere), Megan Williams (Old Belvedere); Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union), Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union); Lindsay Peat (Railway Union), Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony (Old Belvedere), Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere), Elaine Anthony (Old Belvedere), Judy Bobbett (Blackrock), Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock), Juliet Short (Railway Union), Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock).
Replacements: Jennie Finlay (Old Belvedere), Christy Haney (Blackrock), Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union), Clodagh Dunne (Old Belvedere), Daisy Earle (Railway Union), Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Railway Union), Michelle Claffey (Blackrock), Meabh O’Brien (Suttonians).
Aoibheann Reilly (Ballinasloe); Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe), Catherine Martin (Suttonians), Shannon Touhey (Galwegians), Alison Miller (Old Belvedere); Meabh Deely (Ballinasloe), Mary Healy (Galwegians); Laura Feely (Galwegians), Moya Griffin (Tullamore), Anne-Marie O’Hora (Galwegians), Tara Buggie (Galwegians), Aifric O’Brien (Suttonians), Ciara Farrell (Tullamore), Edel McMahon (Galwegians), Nichola Fryday (Galwegians) (capt).
Replacements: Elizabeth McNicholas (Shannon), Katie Murray (Tullamore), Sinead Rigney (Tullamore), Lily Brady (Westport), Ursula Sammon (Castlebar/Galwegians), Nicole Fowley (Galwegians), Orla Dixon (Galwegians), Aisling Brosnan (Co. Carlow).