Connacht scuttle Munster’s title hopes with narrow win

Connacht signed off their Junior Interprovincial Championship with a well earned 25 - 24 win over title hopefuls Munster in Cork on Saturday.

Connacht’s victory denied Munster a first title in five years, thus ensuring it was Leinster who won this season’s honours.

Ronan O’Gara’s presence at the Munster team talk was an indication of Munster’s intentions, but Connacht, unlucky to lose to Leinster the previous week when enjoying a 10-point lead, showed the necessary determination for the full 80 minutes.

The early exchanges were as expected, tough and hard upfront, but Connacht showed their superiority in the scrum where they pushed Munster off their own ball more than once, while Castlebar’s Tom McAuliffe robbed three Munster lineouts in the first 20 minutes. The pressure paid off when Westport winger Kevin Corcoran finished off an excellent backline move to score in the corner.

Munster, however, responded, scorng a try through wing forward Glen Deacon on 32 minutes, but Connacht outhalf, Sligo’s Paddy Pearson, used the wind advantage with some excellent tactical kicking. An excellent line break put centre Jordan Farringdon in for a try for the third week in a row, and Pearson added the conversion to leave the score at 12-5. Pearson added a touchline penalty before the break to put Connacht 10 points ahead.

Munster upped the intensity in the second half and within five minutes had opened up a two-point lead when Daragh Joyce and outhalf Darragh Meade grabbed tries, both of which Meade converted within the first five minutes. It did not get better for the visitors when winger Barry Collins pounced on a defensive error to score under the posts with Meade adding the extras.

However Connacht showed an abundance of character in the last quarter. The forwards once again started to dominate and were rewarded after 74 minutes when Corrib’s Martin Lee touched down after a forward ruck and maul. Although Pearson missed the touchline conversion, Connacht continued to play expansive rugby and were rewarded when winger Kevin Corcoran beat three defenders from the half way line to score in the corner to give them a worthy win.

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