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Late drama as Ulster girls lose inter-provincial title to arch rivals Leinster on goal difference

 

By John Flack

Ulster's women were left cursing their luck after having to settle for the runners up spot at the junior inter-provincial tournament staged at the home of Cork Harlequins yesterday.

The holders were just two minutes away from retaining the trophy when they led Leinster 2-1 only to be denied by a last gasp equaliser, having had a goal controversially ruled out minutes earlier.

That result left Leinster needing to beat Munster in the final game of the tournament and they did so 2-1 to take the honours and pip Ulster on goal difference - a disappointing way to lose out.

Ulster coach David Menual said afterwards: "Obviously we are bitterly disappointed not to have won the title again.

"But all credit to the girls, who were magnificent throughout the tournament.

"The disallowed goal turned out to be the turning point and we felt there was no reason why it shouldn't have been allowed to stand.

"The disengaged umpire felt she saw the ball hit an Ulster foot before it went into the net after her colleague had initially signalled for a goal.

"And Leinster didn't protest, but sometimes these things happen."

Ulster fell behind after only two minutes but Julie Morrow equalised straight from the restart and her sister Jenny made it 2-1 10 minutes into the second half when she converted a penalty stroke.

However, after Menaul's team had that goal disallowed, Leinster salvaged a point when they scored from a set-piece with just two minutes remaining on the clock.

On Saturday, Gemma Menaul and Julie Morrow got the goals in an opening 2-0 win over Munster.

And then a late strike from Nikki Smyth secured a 1-0 victory over Connacht to put Natalie Pinkerton's side in pole position overnight.

That virtually wraps up the domestic season, with the Ulster Hockey Gala Awards dinner coming up on Friday evening at Belfast's Europa Hotel.

After that the Irish Under 16 girls head off to Dusseldorf next weekend where they will play games against Germany twice and the Netherlands.

Junior inter-provincials: Saturday: Munster 0 Ulster 2 (G Menaul, Jill Morrow); Leinster 3 Connacht 1; Connacht 0 Ulster 1 (N Smyth)

Yesterday: Connacht 1 Munster 4; Leinster 2 Ulster 2 (Julie Morrow, Jenny Morrow); Munster 1 Leinster 2

Intermediate Cup final: Belfast Harlequins III 2 North Down II 1

Junior Cup final: Ballymoney III 2 Castle II 1

Minor Cup final: Newry 2 Coleraine III 2 (Newry won on penalties)

Intermediate Plate final: Queen's III 2 Ulster Elks III 1

Junior Plate final: Enniskillen 3 Mossley III 1

Intermediate Plate final: Coleraine 3 Randalstown II 0

Minor Plate final: CI Ladies IV 0 Dromore IV 0 (CI won 5-3 on penalties)

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