Leinster Colleges 28 Connacht Colleges 8

Defending champions Leinster scored five tries as they once again booked their place in the Treasury Holdings Interprovincial final with a comfortable win over a weakened Connacht side.

Looking for their fourth title in succession, Leinster were in irresistible form once they recovered from conceding an early try and if kicker James Power had been able to get a better grip on the windy conditions, the winning margin could have been even greater.

Connacht, made up entirely of students from Athlone IT, made a dream start when Buccaneers club man Sean Stapelton broke down the blind side after receiving a pass from club mate James O’Connell and made light of the 40 metre sprint to the line to score in the corner with just three minutes on the clock. Donal Corbett missed the tough conversion from the touchline.

That opening merely served to wake the Leinster team from their slumber and they spent the majority of the remainder of the game on the offensive.

Power reduced the deficit with his one successful kick of the afternoon when he slotted over a 40 metre penalty three minutes later.

Leinster were always very quick to put the Connacht players under pressure when they received the ball but the men from the West were at the centre of their own undoing in the 14th minute.

When out half Corbett got the ball into hands, he attempted to clear the ball downfield but collided with his own man when doing so. His kick was sliced up into the air and when Leinster gathered the ball, they quickly moved the ball to the left with the excellent Philip De Barra and the equally impressive skipper Alex Dunlop both getting their hands on the ball before Ray Crotty touched down.

Although Power missed the kick, he would soon get another shot at goal when a powerful run by winger Ian Denham led to a 26th minute try for the supporting Aidan Mulligan.

Corbett kicked a brilliantly stuck penalty from just inside the Leinster half after 31 minutes to put Connacht within touching distance of their opponents but that was to be their final score of the game.

A minute before the half time, the hard yards gained by John Dever yielded Leinster’s third try of the day when they quickly recycled the ball from the ruck and they had men over when the ball was worked to the left wing leaving Dunlop to go over the line with ease.

Connacht impressively tried to make an impact in the second half but any hopes they had of getting back into the game were killed off in the 47th minute when Leinster substitute Hugo Nolan’s brilliant blind pass behind his back left Ross Williamson with a simple run to the line from outside the 22 metre line.

Ian Denham showed fine defensive instincts in the 62nd minute when he covered well to clear Stapleton’s clever chip and charge and a minute later he showed what he could do at the other end of the field when he put the cherry on top of the Leinster cake with a sensational sprint down the line, that started inside his own half, to score Leinster’s final try of the day.

All in all, a very impressive showing from Leinster with ominous signs for the final as they look for that fourth title in a row but credit must go to Connaught who never stopped battling despite the odds being stacked against them.

Leinster Colleges: Ross Williamson (IT Carlow); Ray Crotty (St Mary’s), Colm O’Shea (DCU), James Power (DIT), Ian Denham (DCU); Philip De Barra (IT Carlow), Sean Treacy (DCU); Ben Harrison (NUI Maynooth), Grant Wattleworth (IT Carlow), Sean Preston (DIT), Michael Kearney (IT Carlow), Ronan Lennon (IT Carlow), Cathal Deans (IT Tallaght), John Dever (Garda College), Alex Dunlop (IT Tallaght). Replacements: Aidan Mulligan (IT Carlow) for Deans, 3; Hugo Nolan (DCU) for Treacy, 45; Andrew Buckeridge (IT Tallaght) for Preston, 45; Cian Enright (DIT) for Mulligan, 48; Dan O’Byrne (IT Carlow) for Wattleworth 61; Ben Woods (DCU) for O’Shea, 64; Jonathan Harris Wright (Sallynoggin FE) for Denham, 64;

Connacht Colleges: Eoin Joyce (AIT); Joe Bonner (AIT), Paddy Madden (AIT), Sean Stapleton (AIT), James O’Connell (AIT); Donal Corbett (AIT), Karl Turley (AIT); David Curtis (AIT), Gavin Kelly (AIT), Ciaran Jennings (AIT), Benny McManus (AIT), Paul Galvin (AIT), Martin Coyne (AIT), Rory Walshe (AIT), Padraig Burke (AIT). Replacements: Shane O’Neill (AIT) for McManus 54; Kent McIntyre (AIT) for Bonner, 64; Rory Byrne (AIT) for Galvin, 74; Colm Kenny (AIT) for Coyne, 74.

Referee. John Carville IRFU

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Connacht Colleges took on their Leinster counterparts in the NUIM playing fields recently.It
looked like a Connacht victory when the outstanding Sean Stapleton raced away to score after
just ten minutesbut despite a lot of pressure throughout the game their only other score was a
Donal Corbett penalty. Leinster scored a couple of break away tries to break the plucky Connacht
teams hearts.
1.D .Curtis Athy
2.G.Kelly Buccs
3.C.Jennings Westport
4.B.McManus Buccs
5.P Galvin Buccs
6.M.Coyne Connemara
7.R.Walshe W.O Lions
8.P.Bourke Buccs
9,K Turley Buccs
10.D Corbett W.O.Lions
11.J.Bonner unattached
12S.Stapleton Buccs
13.P.Madden Connemara
14.J O Connell Buccs
15 E. Joyce Westport

Subs used
C kenny W.O.Lions
K McIntyre Buccs
S Oneill Buccs

Manager K O Sullivan
Coaches C Couper


Gallery: HT minis – Ballinrobe, Ballyhaunis, Corinthians and Dunmore