Still in the hunt for a championship title, Connacht entertain Munster on Saturday in Headford at 2.30pm in the third and final round of the junior interprovincial rugby series.
Connacht will be looking for their second win, and hope that Ulster do them a favour by beating Leinster on the same day.
Having overcome Ulster in the first match, Connacht had high hopes of grabbing their second win when they met Leinster in Navan on Saturday.
However they suffered a cruel 20 - 18 defeat, when having held a five-point lead with just a minute remaining, Leinster grabbed the points with one last assault to ensure they took the spoils in this top-of-the-table clash.
Connacht had opened brightly, opting to spread the ball wide at every opportunity, and they were rewarded with left wing Kevin Corcoran scored the opening try after a 25m dash to the corner after eight minutes.
The Connacht forwards, led by second rows Willie Parker and Liam Scahill, dominated their Leinster opponents in the set pieces, but it was another backline move that put Connacht further ahead after 20 minutes. Fullback Kevin Higgins lauched and caught a superb garryowen before finding Danny O’Toole in support, and the Westport man grabbed Connacht’s second corner try, which Ger O’Connor narrowly failed to convert in the cross-field wind.
Leinster, however, gained the initiative, and were rewarded with a penalty from outhalf Ger O’Grady.With two minutes to go in the half Leinster winger Kevin O’Brien went in for a converted try to level at 10 - 10 at half time, and crucially added a second on 49 minutes.
Connacht refused to give up, and from a determined series of rucks on the Leinster 22 Dave Prior scored a drop goal to retake the lead. Two minutes later Tomas Lee made a great break from the half way line and scored a third try in the corner to put Connacht 18 – 13 ahead with 20 minutes left.
For the following 20 minutes magnificent defence and a continued willingness to attack had Connacht still holding a five-point lead. However with a minute remaining Leinster were awarded a penalty on Connacht’s 10 metre line. From the resulting kick to touch, Leinster assaulted the Connacht line and eventually their sustained pressure was rewarded for a try to level. When O’Grady converted it gave Leinster the points.
This Friday night Connacht rugby news site, www.knockon.ie is hosting an informal awards gathering at Busker Brownes ( 9pm ) to unveil the junior rugby team of the season.The 15 selected players, selected by coaches from around the province, will each receive an exclusively designed jersey to commemorate the achievement from website sponsors Panther Sports. A host of other awards will be presented at the event celebrating club rugby in the province. The all star team from this year’s junior action has been selected already and is as follows. 15. Kevin Higgins (Monivea ); 14. Kevin Corcoran (Westport ), 13. Dave Prior (OLBC ), 12. Dave Newman (Ballina ), 11. Kieran Dolan (Corinthians ); 10. Ross Shaugnessy (Galwegians ), Michael Murphy (Ballina ); 1. Alan Bane (Corrib ), 2. Pat Devane (Monivea ), 3. Tom Toolan (Ballina ); 4. Willie Parker (Monivea ), 5. Liam Scahill (Westport ); 6. Barry McCann (Corinthians ), 7. Tadgh Linnane (Corinthains ), 8. Eoin Rooney (Monivea ).