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Gilroy makes history in Aviva opener

An underage Leinster/Ulster combination proved far too strong for their Connacht/Munster counterparts as the Aviva Stadium finally opened its doors to the paying public on Saturday.

Such was the IRFU's determination to showcase their new premises ahead of Manchester United's visit on Wednesday, it appears little thought was given to the 35,115 who witnessed an uneven contest, with three tries in the opening 15 minutes highlighting the gulf in class .

By that stage, the healthy crowd were busy entertaining themselves with a Mexican Wave, which was a clear indication of the one-sided nature of the contest.

Despite the inclement weather allied to other sporting attractions across the Liffey, there seemed a genuine goodwill towards this landmark day for Irish rugby, with supporters happy to share in the spirit of the occasion.

Ulster out-half Paddy Jackson gave an exemplary display of passing, running and goal-kicking.

It took just four minutes for Jackson to underline his prowess, as an inch-perfect cross-kick was gathered by Craig Gilroy and the Dungannon right-wing evaded two tackles before racing in under the posts and write his name in Irish rugby folklore.

There was a strong Ulster element to their second try on 11 minutes as Jackson's half-break led to captain Luke Marshall wriggling in from close range. The powerful Ballymena man was influential throughout from inside centre.

The remainder of the half was a procession towards the beleaguered Connacht/Munster line with Sam Coughlan Murray, Marshall and two tries from Andrew Boyle helping the winners to a massive 42-0 interval lead.

The second half continued in a similar vein with UCD left-wing Boyle creating his own piece of history by completing his hat-trick just short of the hour mark, with the crowd only really awakened from their slumber by the zealous efforts of a steward in removing a vuvuzela and its owner from the South Terrace.

Further tries from Gilroy and replacements Conor Spence and Michael McAuley completed the rout, but by then many had turned their thoughts to another Leinster/Ulster combination doing battle three miles up the road.

Leinster/Ulster: Coughlan Murray (McAuley 65); Gilroy, Kelly, Marshall, Boyle; Jackson (March 48), Du Toit (Spence 48); Tracy, Murphy (Carroll 56), Moore (Warwick h-t); Henderson (Fallon 46), Hynes (Marks h-t); Lecky, McGroarty, McGuigan.

Connacht/Munster: Boland; Leader, Horgan (Quinn McDonagh 35), Sargent (Quinn 55), Leydon (Mullarkey 71); Holland, Dolan (Barry 71); Spring (Wooton 40), Stokes (Rael 42), Mullen; O'Herlihy (Heffernan 42), O'Mahony (Costigan 71); Buckley, Connelly, Qualter.

Referee: A Rolland.

Belfast Telegraph

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