Connacht achieved their best result in this year’s junior interprovincial rugby series with an 8 - 3 victory over Munster in Headford on Saturday.
The two wins over Ulster and Munster earned them a second-place finish behind Leinster, who took the title by virtue of their injury-time try over Connacht the previous week.
Saturday’s game was tough and uncompromising as two big packs battled it out, but out wide Connacht once again proved they had the measure of their opponents. After eight minutes winger Kevin Corcoran showed this to good effect when he finished off a great passing movement to score in the corner and give Connacht a 5-0 lead. Paul Cody, whose touchline conversion was inches wide, made no mistake a few minutes latter when he slotted home a 40m penalty.
Munster, with the wind at their backs, threw everything at the home side, but Connacht’s pack, led by Enda Murphy, Liam Scahill, Willie Parker, Alan Bane, and Tom Toolan scrummaged, rucked, and tackled to great effect, while backs Kevin Higgins, Ger O’Connor, and Mike Murphy cleared their lines and set up counter attacks to ease the pressure at vital times.
Munster were only able to convert one of three penalties to ensure Connacht ran out worthy winners.
Corinthians’ season concludes
Corinthians concluded their most succcessful season without the silverware on Saturday when they fell to Dubliners Old Wesley in the division three final.
Old Wesley, who finished runners-up to Corinthians in the league, were worthy 30 - 12 winners on the day, looking the hungrier and sharper throughout this competitive decider at Garryowen.
Having won promotion almost a month ago, Corinthians looked like a team that had already achieved their stated aim of the season, and it was Old Wesley who dominated this contest, particularly at the breakdown. Time after time they turned Corinthians over in the loose, and the Galway city side struggled to make a scoring impact against an eager and well organised Wesley defence.
Corinthians were hit by two Wesley tries in quick succession in the first half - the first coming in the 10th minute after a midfield turnover. Scrum half Paul Campbell and Barry McLaughlin combined before Campbell scampered through a gap, with outhalf David Smith converting. Three minutes later they had crossed the whitewash again after lock John Carroll made the break and when they spun wide right wing Alan Thompson escaped the tackle to dot down.
Corinthians, however, did get back into the game when captain Pat Cunningham, who once again led by example, blocked down a clearance and fed Cian Begley who got over for the unconverted try leaving the score at 12 - 5.
Yet Corinthians failed to capitalise on their set piece prowess with several unforced errors and when Old Wesley added two penalties either side of the break, it left Corinthians 18 - 5 in arrears.
They did play with renewed enthusiasm in the second half, but against a tight Wesley cover they could not break through. Instead another turnover when Corinthians were camped inside the Wesley 22 proved fatal, and McLaughlin raced clear, winning the race for the touchdown.
Corinthians did get in for a deserved try after a solid 20 minutes of domination but it was too late. Once again it was Cunningham who did the damage, providing Aurelian Casanova with the chance to break through, with Wayne Williams adding extras. However Old Wesley had the last say with a fourth try from their talented youngster McLaughlin.