Connacht U18 Girls' Match Report

15 February 2024

Connacht U18 Girls' Match Report


The BANK OF IRELAND U18 GIRLS INTERPROVINCIAL SEMI-FINALS took place at Lakeland’s Park on Thursday afternoon. 

Leinster and Connacht made their way to the final at Buccaneers RFC on Sunday (K/O 3pm) where it will be preceded by Munster and Ulster’s 3rd/4th Place Play-Off (K/O 1pm).

Connacht finished top of the League segment of the Interprovincial series and it was easy to see why.  

The Western Province was utterly dominant in the first period, blowing Ulster off the ball to create the sort of ruck speed that haunts defences. 

Their number eight Jemima Adams-Verling was a complete scourge on the ball, striking as early as the first minute when Connacht came hard and fast from the kick-off. 

Siofra Hession’s break led to Adams-Verling’s second before wing Emily Folley slipped over on the left following a smooth build-up, Siofra Hession converting all three by the 14th minute. . 

The Ulster girls were outgunned and outmanoeuvred, despite the determination of scrum-half Megan Creighton and loose forwards Cara McLean and Ruby Starrett not to give up the fight. 

Connacht’s cohesion was too much to handle as the runners kept coming for Merisa Kiripati to pounce on the left and for Adams-Verling to complete her hat-trick from the base of a 5-metre scrum.      

The last try of the half was the best of the lot. Ulster had hammered away at the line without any reward. 

A turnover prompted a length-of-the-field counter involving four players for wing Saoirse Lawley to round the cover for Hession’s conversion to make it 47-0 at the break.   

To their considerable credit, Ulster managed to come out rejuvenated by increasing their aggression in defence on the gain line, led by props Grace Simati and Sophie McAllister.

They had figured out the best way to move forward was through the blunt force physicality of their forwards, captain Cara McLean leading the charge.   

Replacement Julia Mulligan and Simati made the kind of tackles, back-to-back, that fed the desire to turn the tide. 

A yellow card for Kiripati was further proof of Connacht coming under pressure, McLean barging to the line in the 40th minute. 

The direct approach was working out quite nicely, the tap-and-go used to fuel the forwards, captain Starrett offloading for McLean’s second touchdown, converted by Creighton. 

The threat through the middle created more space out wide where Amy McConkey appeared at speed, cutting back inside for a tremendous try, converted by Leah Irwin in the 52nd minute. 

Ulster were on a roll now, McConkey almost repeating her earlier feat before second-row Olivia McKinley got over from close range for 47-24 in the 62nd minute.   

In the end, Connacht were able to put together one last attack which enabled Adams-Verling to pick up a fourth try.        


Connacht: J Adams-Verling 4 tries; E Foley 2 tries; S Lawley, M Kiripati try each; S Hession 6 cons.

Ulster: C McLean 2 tries; A McConkey, O McKinley try each; M Creighton, L Irwin con each. 



Aoife Heaney (Claremorris); Saoirse Lawley (Sligo), Sarah Purcell (Creggs, Capt), Siofra Hession (Creggs), Emily Foley (Ballina); Jemma Lees (Corinthians), Grainne Moran (Ballina); Ciara Corrigan (Creggs), Uillin Eilian (Tuam/Oughterard), Ella Burns (Tuam/Oughterard), Catherine Fleming (Ballinasloe), Chloe Conneely (Tuam/Oughterard), Merisa Kiripati (Creggs), Ailish Quinn (Ballina), Jemima Adams-Verling (Creggs).

Replacements: Alannah McKeigue (Ballinasloe) for Adams-Verling, Louise Seoighe (Tuam/Oughterard) for Burns, Isabelle Quinn (Creggs) for Conneely,  Aisling Whyte (Corinthians) for Purcell, Meabh Flannery (Corinthians) for Heaney all ht; Shauna Walsh (Creggs) for Foley, Heaney for Lawley both 43 mins; Amy Horan (Ballinrobe) for Corrigan, Katie McNamara (Loughrea) for Moran both 48 mins


Natalie Turner (Enniskillen); Aoibhín Smith (Virginia), Amy McConkey (Cooke), Leah Irwin (Enniskillen), Erin McConalogue (Inishowen); Nicola Campbell (City of Armagh), Megan Creighton (Malone); Grace Simati (Letterkenny), Amanda Farrell (Enniskillen), Sophie McAllister (Ballymena); Olivia McKinley (Banbridge), Anna-Rose McNally (Monaghan), Ruby Starrett (Larne, Capt), Laura Scott (Ards), Cara McLean (Larne).

Replacements: Jessica Wilkinson (Ballymena) for Scott, Abi Carson (Malone) for Campbell, Lucy Calvin (City of Armagh) for McNally all ht; Tess McFadden (Monaghan) for Simati, Aoife Prunty (Monaghan) for Farrell, Julia Mulligan (Enniskillen) for Creighton all 50 mins; Caitlin Crowe (Cavan) for McConalogue (Inishowen) 53 mins; Elinor Van Lill  (Virginia) for McAllister 59 mins.

Referee: SJ Wickham, IRFU.