The Munster Women's team claimed the Interprovicinal title at the Sportsgrounds in Galway on Saturday, defeating Leinster 11-10 in a cracking final.
The result completes a clean sweep of results for the side who captured the title undefeated in this year's campaign. Coached by Ballincollig's Donal O'Driscoll and Ireland's most capped women's player Fiona Steed, the side defeated Ulster 42-0 in the first round, Connacht 36-0 in their next tie and Leinster 12-8 before facing Leinster again in Saturday's final.
In a game that depended on the very last kick, Munster emerged victorious over a tough Leinster side. For the first 20 minutes, Munster placed huge pressure on Leinster, despite Leinster looking to score early on. Leinster’s Grace Davitt, made the first of many breaks only to be stopped in her tracks by Munster centre Helen Brosnan. Davitt managed to get the off load to Lynn Cantwell, but due to good defense, Cantwell spilled the ball inside the Munster 22. This is where Leinster stayed for the next 10 minutes testing the Champions mettle. Thanks to great kicking ability of outhalf, Nicole Fitzgerald the Munster girls were taken out of their red zone. For the rest of the half it was a game of cat and mouse. Leinster’s attacks came in waves through breaks by winger Grace Davitt and prop Fiona Coughlan. However the sides remained scoreless at half time.
From the first kick of the ball, it was clear that Leinster meant business. They started to vary their game, keeping it in close and spreading it left and right. Fiona Coughlan once again breaking the game ball line. In the 10th minute, inside the Munster 22, concentration lapsed and there was a penalty given for off-side. Grace Davitt kicked it with ease, giving a 3-0 lead to Leinster. Within 3 minutes Nicole Fitzgerald leveled the score.
The next score came from a set piece move from the base of the scrum. Leinster were inside the Munster 22, and an 8-9-10 ball, saw Shannon Houston side step the Munster defense to go over for the first try of the game. They now lead 10-3. Unfortunately, this phase of play left outhalf Nicole Fitzgerald injured which made way for impact substitute Niamh Briggs. Briggs made her presence felt immediately and showed her worth through her kicking and ability to burst through the Leinster line of defense. She added a new dimension to the game which allowed the entire half backs to shine. In a litany of turnovers, Munster got a scrum in the Leinster 22 and this saw Jean Lonergan go over for a try, leaving only a point between the sides, 11-10 to Munster.
In a tense end to the second half, Leinster charged forward and with ill discipline seeping into the Munster side, penalty after penalty was given to Leinster. The final kick was to be Leinster’s with Grace Davitt stepping up to see if she could guarantee a Leinster victory. It was with a sign of relief from Munster that the ball fell short and gave the Munster Women the Interpro title for yet another year.
Scorers: Munster; Nicole Fitzgerald (1 penalty), Jean Lonergan (1 try), Niamh Briggs (1 penalty)
Leinster; Grace Davitt (1 penalty, 1 conversion) Shannon Houston (1 try)
Substitutes: Munster; N O’Keeffe for D Jennings (half time) N Briggs for N. Fitzgerald (65mins)