Munster coach Garry Walsh admitted ‘bitterness’ of defeat played a part in his side’s 15-12 victory over Leinster to claim the women’s interpro title at Ashbourne RFC on Saturday afternoon.
Last season, Walsh’s side saw their five-year reign as champions brought to a crashing halt by the eastern province but within weeks had set about reclaiming their crown with a punishing training regime.
That hard work was rewarded at the Meath venue and Walsh made no secret of the side’s motivation. He admitted: “The pride was dented after last year. A good few of the girls stayed on from last year and they were very much out for revenge. It’s a very easy tool to use in terms of motivation, obviously we had a few other strings to our bow but motivation is easy when there’s a small bit of Munster bitterness at the end of it.”
Niamh Kavanagh had Munster’s opening try but Leinster star Marie-Louise Reilly converted her own try to give the home side a 7-5 lead at the break.
Munster stormed back on the restart with Nicole Fitzgerald and Claire Keohane setting up Ashling Hutchins for a try which put them momentarily in the driving seat. Leinster bounced back with an Aoife Ryan try to edge 12-10 ahead but Walsh’s side refused to surrender and their hard work was rewarded when Gillian Bourke crossed late in the day.
Walsh said: “It’s absolutely fantastic, it has been the culmination of 13 or 14 months of hard work. We started back straight after the interpros last year. We started preparing in October because we thought the interprovincials were going to be in August/September again.
“We were doing skills camps and talent ID camps all throughout, doing two a month which gave us a chance to look at players. We identified about 97 players through that system.
“Then we found out that the interprovincials were going to change to November. So it is brilliant to get it back and win it.”
MUNSTER: C Keohane; A Hutchins, N Briggs, L O’Mahony, N Kavanagh; N Fitzgerald, L Costello; F Hayes, C Fanning, G Bourke; H O’Brien (capt), O Buckley; A Caplice, S Fleming, J Neville.
Replacements: L Barbour, K Buggy, L Guest, K Casey, C Griffin, C Bracken, N Scully.
LEINSTER: K Fitzhenry, A Tyrrell, J Murphy, S Houston, E O’Byrne-White; N Stapleton, C Barter; F Coghlan, F Gleeson, A Egan; O Fitzsimons, M-Louise Reilly (capt), S Lynch (Garda), A Ryan, P Fitzpatrick.
Replacements: D O’Brien, R O’Donnell, E McManamly, A Rooney, C Morey, S Cody, K Flood.
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