Connacht opened its 2012 Junior Interpro account on Saturday away in Dromore with a three-point win over Ulster: a 100m try and scrambling desperate defence the difference.

The Ambrose Conboy and Cory Brown-coached crew landed in Dromore to a four bus salute of vocal rugby fans. The fact they all pulled out of the carpark shortly after en route to the capital did little to detract from the collective focus.

The local contingent had the pick of the first quarter-hour, throwing body after body into staunch green defenders, and denied halves Michael Murphy and Jamie Murphy any chance to feed the Connacht backs. Desperate defence, both organised and cover, proved Connacht’s foremost virtue, a penalty three points the only return Ulster could manage.

An Ulster handling indiscretion near the Connacht goal-line gave the greens a much-needed scrum, albeit only five metres out. Blessed with the first real possession they had since kick-off, it went wide immediately and Ballina powerhouse Jerome Harrimate at centre threw a missile wide to Rob O’Beirn (fullback) who scorched about 20m down the track before finding winger Kevin Corcoran with a slick pass.

The mercurial Corcoran then made bits of about four defenders over 40m and fed openside John Hayes who streaked from beyond the 22 to go under the bar and avail Ballinasloe’s O’Beirn an easy two, and Connacht a 7-3 lead.

O’Beirn proved spot-on again to push lead out to 10-3 courtesy of a penalty, but Ulster returned with a try and brought scores level.

Dromore, wracked by wind, caused both kickers problems, but O’Beirn managed a third kicking success seven minutes from the end, 13-10 (another penalty). With time expiring, Ulster threw caution to the (proverbial) wind, and managed to compromise a desperate Connacht defender within reach of the posts.

To Connacht’s credit, Ulster opted not to take on a defensive unit which had proved impenetrable in the early stages against fresh legs but sought three points and a draw first week up.

Ulster missed, and three shrill blasts brought the game to a close.

The Leinster v Munster opener proved another away win, Munster on the smiley end of it 20-16 up at the finish. Leinster led at the death by a point, before Munster snatched a try on full-time to go four up in Edenderry. 

Munster hosts Ulster in Kanturk, County Cork.

Interprovincial defending champions Connacht prepare this week for their only home encounter v Leinster in Loughrea.

Former Junior Interpro captain Mark Mullins, still a ferocious element in the tight, should kick his own formidable performance up a notch this weekend playing in front of a home crowd.

The 6’5 Loughrea local is one of two clubmen in the interpro camp who know Ballygasty as familiar territory, Willie Cullinane the other.

Injuries and absences force co-coach Cory Brown to reshuffle the halves pairing, but with evergreen Mairtin Lee (2012 captain and part of the interpro furniture these days), and no shortage of experience in the midfield (Harrimate and Boys Club’s Dave Prior), Connacht will seek to inflict damage this weekend, rather than contain it.

Connacht Junior team, v Ulster, Saturday April 28, in Dromore 13-10 (Connacht).

1 James Walsh, OLBC; ,2 Martin Lee, Corrib (c); 3 Paul McCreanor, OLBC; 4 Mark Mullins, Loughrea; 5 Brian Murphy, Monivea; 6 Stephen Burke, Tuam; 7 John Hayes, Ballinasloe; 8 Aidan McNulty, Ballina; 9 Michael Murphy, Ballina; 10 Jamie Murphy, Tuam; 11 Peter Cosgrove, OLBC; 12 Dave Prior, OLBC; 13 Jerome Harrimate, Ballina; 14 Kevin Corcoran, Westport; 15 Robert O’Beirn, Ballinasloe. Substitutes: Christy Dyra, Westport; Alex Lee, Ballina; Ronan Coughlan, Monivea; James Moran, OLBC; Willie Cullinane, Loughrea; Greg Faherty, OLBC; Trevor Moore, Ballina; Conor Hurst, Tuam.


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