Connacht Juniors Match Report vs Leinster

04 May 2024

Connacht Juniors Match Report vs Leinster

Match Report | Connacht Juniors 14-55 Leinster

The Connacht Juniors faced a relentless Leinster Juniors side in the second match of their Junior Interpro series campaign at Creggs RFC today, 4th May after a loss against Ulster last Saturday.

It was an overcast, but bright and dry, day at Creggs RFC today and both sides brought animated fans to the Creggs grounds where the club were showcasing their new clubhouse development project. The Connacht Juniors were coming off a loss to Ulster last week while Leinster had drawn with Munster, so both sides were looking to add winning points to their table standings. 

Leinster were on the attack from the beginning of the match, showing their well-drilled set pieces and discipline on and off the ball. The first points of the game came from a Leinster penalty after 4 minutes when Leinster's number 10, Craig Miller slotted the ball between the uprights to make the score 3-0 to Leinster. Connacht took a while to settle into the game and Leinster were able to capitalise on Connacht starting on the back foot. Despite a few brilliant carries by Connacht's number 13, Ross Murphy Sweeney, Leinster continued to rely on their consistent set pieces and ability to move the ball quickly and spread the pitch on offense.

When Leinster found themselves on the Connacht 5m line with a scrum penalty, they made no mistake in capitalising on their position with their Scrum-Half, Tristan Brady finding a hole in the Connacht defense. Miller just missed the conversion. 

Connacht started to find their groove on the attack, moving it left to right but not quite finding the holes in the Leinster defensive line. The ball once again found its way into the hands of Leinster, with their number 12, Matt McKenna showing impressive territorial gains. Leinster once again crossed the line after using the width to their advantage with number 11, David O'Reilly getting the try after 18 minutes. This time, Miller made no mistake in slotting over the conversion. Another Leinster try was scored a short time later after an amazing run by the Leinster number 1, Rob Scully and Miller got the conversion.  

Just when it looked like Leinster would run away with the game, Connacht number 7, Fintan Crawley and number 3, Captain Martin Staunton make two great line breaks and won a penalty for their side. Despite Leinster's solid defensive efforts, Connacht number 15, Barry Walsh stormed over the try line with a tackler hanging off of him after he spotted a hole in the Leinster defense. Connacht's number 10, Shane Purcell added 2 points to the home side's tally with the conversion at his home ground in the 27th minute. 

Leinster managed to add two more tries to their tally before halftime with number 13, Conor Gibney and Brady both getting the tries and Miller adding two more conversions. The halftime whistle was a welcome sound for the home side to regroup and freshen up their tactics.

HT: Connacht 7-36 Leinster

After the break, it looked like things would go similarly to the end of the first half with Leinster putting the first points on the board by their sub number 23, Adam Johnson. Shortly after, Miller himself found the try line after a bit of creative and quick passing by the Leinster side. Miller converted his try and the score stood at 48-7 to Leinster. Could Connacht find their rhythm? 

With a few substitutes made, Connacht seemed to have taken more control of the game, holding off Leinster on defense and trying new things in their attack. The game started to get a bit more scrappy with the two sides trying different styles of play.

Connacht's set pieces improved in the second half and they put more pressure on the Leinster lineouts as well, but were still not finding ways to capitalise on their gains with mistakes in the final pass or kicks being their downfall. However, the subs breathed some life back into play, especially in Connacht's number 22, Louis McVitty and number 23, Mark Purcell. 

26 minutes into the second half and Leinster got their next and final try when their number 20, Garry Dunne touched the ball down under the posts despite some brilliant defensive grind by Connacht. Miller once again completed the conversion and the score was now 55-7 to Leinster. 

A Connacht lineout was called not straight and the tiredness was starting to become more evident in erros on the pitch by both sides. However, Connacht weren't done yet and their opportunity came when Mark Purcell completed a superb one-handed catch off a pass and sprinted up the pitch, giving a last second pass out to McVitty on the wing who beat four Leinster defenders to dive under the posts for their second try of the game. Shane Purcell got the conversion to make it 55-14. 

From then on, the match was much more two-sided with Leinster making more of the errors. Leinster's Dunne was red carded for a high tackle and it looked like Connacht would once again find the chance to add points to the board, but the errors crept back in and they weren't able to captialise against a 14-player Leinster. A short time later, Connacht's own Shane Purcell was also red carded for a high tackle. Leinster had one more opportunity for a try, but it was held-up over the line before the final whistle sounded. 

Conacht Head Coach, Alan Bane will be looking ahead to their final Interprovincial match against Munster next Saturday, 18th May in Old Christians RFC at 2:30 PM. 

FT: Connacht 14-55 Leinster

Connacht: Ronan Ipek (Castlebar RFC); Benjamin Hynes (Sligo Rugby); Martin Staunton (Buccaneers RFC) Captain; Sam Fogarty (Buccaneers RFC); Ryan Cummins (Dunmore RFC); Brian Diffley (Creggs RFC); Tommy Mullen (Connemara RFC); Fintan Crawley (Ballyhaunis RFC); Zach Wright (Castlebar RFC); Shane Purcell (Creggs RFC); Ian Murphy (Tuam RFC); Eoghan Coyle (Creggs RFC); Ross Murphy Sweeney (Buccaneers RFC); Ethan Griffiths (Connemara RFC); Barry Walsh (Castlebar RFC).

Subs: Ross Bourke (Westport RFC); Eoghan Cahill (Creggs RFC); Aidan Healy (Ballyhaunis RFC); Michael Jordan (Ballyhaunis RFC); Ciaran Purcell (Creggs RFC); Mark Dowd (Creggs RFC); Louis McVitty (Sligo Rugby); Mark Purcell (Creggs RFC).

Leinster: Rob Scully (Cill Dara RFC); Graham Reynolds (Balbriggan RFC) Captain; Conor McCormack (Cill Dara RFC); Jake Caldbeck (Kilkenny RFC); Ger Warde (Bective Rangers RFC); Ruadhan McDonnell (Monkstown FC); Zac Jungmann (Seapoint RFC); Tiernan Gonnelly (Dundalk RFC); Tristan Brady (Monkstown FC); Craig Miller (Athy RFC); David O’Reilly (Seapoint RFC); Matt McKenna (Seapoint RFC); Conor Gibney (Mullingar RFC); Dan Crotty (County Carlow FC); Eoghan Duffy (Boyne RFC).

Subs: Gordon Shannon (Cill Dara RFC); John McDonald (DLSP RFC); Tadhg Ronan (County Carlow FC); John Southern (Seapoint RFC); Garry Dunne (Kilkenny RFC); John Joe McIlwrath (Cill Dara RFC); Colin Sisk (Seapoint RFC); Adam Johnson (Tullow RFC).