Munster got their 2023/24 Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship campaign underway with a bonus-point 41-14 win over Ulster in Armagh.
A closely fought first half saw Ulster enjoy plenty of possession but it was Munster who were more clinical as Stephanie Carroll scored a brace of tries with Clodagh O’Halloran dotting down for one just before half-time which Kate Flannery converted.
In the second half, Munster pulled clear thanks to tries from Róisín Ormond, Ellen Boylan, Brianna Heylmann and a third from Carroll. Flannery and Aoife O’Shaughnessy both landed conversions in the second half.
Ulster started dangerously with some early pressure but Munster defended well and eventually won a penalty.
A good kick from Kate Flannery put Ulster under pressure close to their line where a mistake from the home side in their in-goal area saw the ball drop to the floor where Stephanie Carroll was first on the scene to dot down for the opening try of the game.
Kate Flannery’s conversion was just wide as Munster took a early 0-5 lead.
Ulster hit back straight away when a dangerous chip over the top saw the ball bounce favourably for the home side as Ella Durkan scored her side’s first try. Durkan landed her conversion to put her side into the lead.
Despite that setback, Munster hit back immediately. A sweeping move from a lineout saw Chloe Pearse, Flannery, Stephanie Nunan, Alana McInerney and Aoife Corey all touch the ball before Carroll was released to score her second try in the corner.
Flannery’s touchline conversion dropped just short as Munster went back into the lead.
Both sides were guilty of mistakes as the first half wore on but Clodagh O’Halloran was able to power over just before the break to extend Munster’s lead. Flannery’s conversion ensured a 17-7 lead at half-time.
Munster secured the bonus-point soon after the resumption of the second half as a quick-tap from Muirne Wall almost put Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird over but Róisín Ormond was available on the next phase to power over and Flannery converted.
A determined Ulster hit back with a try through Maebh Clenaghan which was converted by Durkan to reduce the deficit to 24-14.
However, a moment of magic from Nic a Bháird saw the number eight pick up the ball from the back of a scrum and sprint clear from her own 22. She was able to release Ellen Boylan who raced away to dot down in the corner in what was a try on her senior debut for the province.
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With 10 minutes remaining, Carroll secured her hat-trick as she crossed in the corner. This was before Munster finished off with one more try as Brianna Heylmann, making her senior Munster debut, crashed over off the back of a rolling maul.
Flannery landed the conversion to secure a 41-14 win.
Next up for Munster is the visit of Connacht to Musgrave Park on Saturday, August 19th (KO 3.15pm). Buy tickets here.
Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship Round 1 Round-Up
Hat-trick hero Stephanie Carroll was awarded the Vodafone Player of the Match.
Brianna Heylmann, Jane Clohessy, Abbie Salter-Townshend and Ellen Boylan all made their senior Munster debuts with Heylmann and Boylan notching second-half tries.
Munster welcome Connacht to Musgrave Park next weekend in Round 2. Buy tickets here.