There is much at stake for Connacht junior sides in this weekend’s interprovincial fixtures.
Top of the bill is the Connacht u-19 club side that is seeking this year’s interprovincial crown when facing Leinster on Sunday.
Having already beaten Munster (16-10 ),and Ulster ( 21-15 ), the u-19s are now seeking a clean sweep over their provincial partners which would give them this year’s crown.
The u-19s, coached by Nigel Carolan, will be looking for another big performance against a Leinster outfit that will be favourites to win the series after the 37-5 hammering they dished out to Munster.
Last weekend Connacht maintained their momentum when they ran out deserved winners over Ulster by virtue of three tries from Karl Egan, Colin Conroy, and Eoin Griffin, who also added all three conversions.
The u-19 title decider takes place in the Galway Sportsground on Sunday (1pm ).
In the u-18 competition, Connacht will also face Leinster, but will have the more difficult task of travelling to Barnhall on Saturday (1pm ).
Connacht, the current title holders, ground out a hard-fought 16 - 14 victory last weekend against Ulster.
Ulster enjoyed the better opening half, scoring two tries to give themselves a 14 - 3 lead before Andrew Fallon scored for the home side to narrow the margin to just six at the break. It got better for Connacht when Jack Carty slotted an early penalty, and they made the most of their chances when Mark Dolan broke on the blindside, sidestepped two tacklers, and kicked ahead with lock Daniel Qualter winning the race for the touchdown. This score proved the game's turning point, and try as they might, Ulster could not penetrate a brave Connacht defence as they home side held out for a deserved victory.
The final fixture of the weekend sees Connacht’s u-20s face Leinster at the Galway Sportsground tomorrow at 5.30pm.
Having lost to both Ulster and Munster, Connacht will be playing for pride against a Leinster side that is looking at claiming the series title.
Last weekend Connacht fought after falling behind to Ulster by 17 - 3 at the break, to come within two points, eventually losing by 17 - 15.
Connacht enjoyed a good opening and their pressure was rewarded with a penalty from Adam Kennedy. However as the half progressed the Ulster forwards began to dominate, and following a succession of phases, Ulster drove play from their 22 to the half way line and quick handling saw second row Paddy Magowan break clear with only the full back to beat. The second row timed his pass to Ulster full back Ricky Andrew to perfection and Andrew duly scored at the posts. Robin Thompson converted to give Ulster a 7-3 lead.
Connacht, dangerous on the break, continued to compete and it was not until five minutes before half time that Ulster extended their lead with a 40m penalty from Thompson. Worse followed for Connacht when from the kick-off Ulster scored a crucial try just before the break to give them a 17 - 3 and the home side a mountain to climb.
Connacht got right back in the contest with a try from second row Joe Moran after good work from Shane Conneely, but they did not score again until late in the half when Connacht capitalised on an Ulster mistake. Sean Joyce set up the attack and with support from John O’Brien, Moran finished it off five metres from the line.
It reduced the deficit to just two points, but Ulster reclaimed possession and kept Connacht in their 22 for the remainder of the game.