Munster retain Women’s Interprovincial Championship title with bonus-point win over Connacht

Munster retained their title by maintaining their 100% record with a six-try win in Galway on Saturday.

Munster are the back-to-back Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Champions after Niamh Briggs’ side secured a 24-50 bonus-point win over Connacht in Galway on Saturday afternoon.

Three first-half tries set Munster on their way as Alana McInerney, Clodagh O’Halloran and Deirbhile Nic a Bháird all crossed in the opening 40 minutes.

On the resumption of the second half, Róisín Ormond crossed for Munster’s fourth try which mathematically secured the title before a brace from Eilís Cahill and tries from Rachel Allen and Heather Kennedy secured the win.

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Connacht had some possession and territory in the opening five minutes but Munster defended well and were able to win a good turnover.

Some strong carrying from Munster’s back-row brought play close to the Connacht line however the hosts were able to withstand some close-range carrying from Munster. The ball was then spread wide to Alana McInerney who crossed for the opening try of the match. Nicole Cronin’s conversion was wide as Munster took an early 0-5 lead.

Munster made it 0-12 just after the midway point of the first half when Clodagh O’Halloran crashed over from close-range after some good build-up play. Cronin landed the conversion to extend Munster’s lead.

From the kick-off, Munster scored again. Some good interplay between Dorothy Wall and Aoife Doyle brought play close to the half-way line before some great hands, especially from Róisín Ormond, released Deirbhile Nic a Bháird who ran in a try from 50m. Cronin’s conversion was successful as Munster led 0-19 with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.

Connacht did hit back before the break as a well executed cross-field kick from Nicole Fowley saw Clara Barrett touch down in the corner.

With Munster leading 5-19 at the break, the first score of the second half was going to be crucial. And it went Munster’s way.

A lovely break from Aoife Doyle saw the winger release Dorothy Wall who was tackled inches from the line but the back-row offloaded to Róisín Ormond who scored under the posts. Cronin’s conversion was good as Munster’s lead stretched to 5-26.

Connacht responded with a carbon-copy of their first try as a cross-field kick by Fowley was collected by Barrett.

However, Munster got back down the other end of the pitch from the kick-off and crossed for a try through Eilís Cahill. Cronin converted to extend Munster’s lead.

It wasn’t long until Munster added another. A sweeping move with numerous offloads saw Rachel Allen sprint free to score next to the posts.

Cahill got her second try soon after as Munster’s lead stretched to 12-45 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the match.

Connacht responded with a try from Emily Gavin before some superb footwork from Heather Kennedy brought Munster up to the 50-point mark when she crossed in the corner.

There was still time for another score as a determined Connacht scored through Hannah Coen.

That would be the last moment of the match as the full-time whistle was blown to joyous scenes from the Munster players, coaches and travelling support.

Munster: Aoife Corey (UL Bohemian RFC) (Heather Kennedy 60′); Aoife Doyle (Railway Union RFC), Stephanie Nunan (UL Bohemian RFC) (Stephanie Carroll 63′), Kate Flannery (UL Bohemian RFC) (Rachel Allen 53′), Alana McInerney (UL Bohemian RFC); Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemian RFC) (C), Muirne Wall (UL Bohemian RFC); Róisín Ormond (Ballincollig RFC) (Ciara Farrell 55′), Kate Sheehan (UL Bohemian RFC) (Deirbhile Nic a Bháird 50′), Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemian RFC) (Eilis Cahill 52′); Clodagh O’Halloran (UL Bohemian RFC) (Sarah Garrett 63′), Claire Bennett (UL Bohemian RFC); Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College RFC), Maeve Óg O’Leary (Blackrock College RFC), Deirbhile Nic a Bháird (Old Belvedere RFC) (Chloe Pearse 40′).

Replacements: Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemian RFC), Gillian Coombes (Ballincollig RFC), Eilís Cahill (UL Bohemian RFC), Sarah Garrett (UL Bohemian RFC), Ciara Farrell (UL Bohemian RFC), Rachel Allen (UL Bohemian RFC), Stephanie Carroll (Railway Union RFC), Heather Kennedy (Ballincollig RFC).

Connacht: Mairead Coyne, Ava Ryder, Orla Dixon, Shannon Touhey, Clara Barrett, Nicole Fowley, Mary Healy (C); Grainne O’Loughlin, Lily Brady, Laura Feely, Fiona Scally, Eva McCormack, Karly Tierney, Karla Waldron, Grace Browne Moran.

Replacements: Emily Gavin, Niamh O’Grady, Hannah Coen, Sonia McDermott, Orla Fenton, Olivia Haverty, Eabha Nic Dhonnacha, Mollie Starr

Munster Scorers

Try | Alana McInerney, Clodagh O’Halloran, Deirbhile Nic a Bháird, Róisín Ormond, Eilís Cahill (x2), Rachel Allen, Heather Kennedy

Conversion | Nicole Cronin (x5)

Connacht Scorers

Try | Clara Barrett (x2), Emily Gavin, Hannah Coen

Conversion | Nicole Fowley (x2)

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