Ulster's U16s show class as draw helps clinch crown
Ulster Under-16s bagged the first trophy of the new season when they landed their inter-provincial title in Dublin yesterday following a four-game unbeaten run.
But hopes that the Ulster Under-18s would also return north with silverware ended when they slipped up 2-1 to Munster and then watched Leinster pip the same opposition by 4-1 to snatch glory on goal difference.
Overall it was a good weekend at Three Rock, with Ulster's young talent showing all remains good at this level in the province.
Coach Shirley McCay was pleased the way her U16s chalked up three wins over the first two days and still had enough in the tank to assure title success by drawing their final game 2-2 against Munster yesterday.
The character in the squad was evident from Friday's opener when they came from two down to beat hosts Leinster 3-2, with goals from Sullivan duo Troy Chambers (2) and Patrick Rose.
And they followed it up with a 4-3 win over Munster on Saturday, with the goals coming from Tom McClintock (Sullivan), Max Taylor (Wallace High), Chambers again, and Stewart Wylie (Cookstown High).
Saturday's double-header saw them win 2-1 in the second game against Leinster, with Friends' duo Conor Quinn and Matthew Aughey the marksmen this time.
In yesterday's final game they twice took the lead through Chambers and Djay Erksine (Sullivan), only for Munster to force a 2-2 draw ... but that was enough for them to finish four points clear at the top.
Adam Louden's U18s were in the frame until they lost their final game 2-1 to Munster yesterday, with their goal from Matthew Milliken (Friends).
It meant Leinster needed to beat Munster by three clear goals to pip them on goal difference and that was what they did, winning 4-1.
Earlier Ulster drew 2-2 in their opening game against Leinster on Friday, with goals from Harry Morris (Sullivan) and Jack Haycock (Cookstown High), and had a good Saturday with wins over Munster (2-1) when Haycock and Milliken were in the mark, and Leinster (2-0) when Harry Morris grabbed both goals.
Meanwhile Kilkeel need a point from their final Pool A game to make absolutely sure of a Kirk Cup semi-final place, after a brace from David Finlay helped them to a comfortable 5-1 derby win over Newry.
It's much tighter in Pool B, with Civil Service currently out in front by a point from Instonians after Chris Barnes took his season's tally to eight in a 3-3 draw at Belfast Harlequins.
Favourites Instonians, with a game in hand, beat North Down 4-1 with William Robinson scoring twice and recent signing Gavin Leckey and man of the match Ben Palmer also among the goals.
Bangor top the Linden Cup table, three points ahead of nearest rivals Raphoe and Antrim with two rounds to go.
Finally, with the umpires' impasse sorted on Friday evening, it means that the EY Irish Hockey League will finally hit off this Saturday.
Kirk Cup Pool A: Kilkeel 5 (D Finlay 2, J Aiken, L Russell, M Henning) Newry 1 (C McKnight); South Antrim 3 (J Moore, W Phillips, C Henry) Portadown 0.
Pool B: Instonians 4 (W Robinson 2, G Leckey, B Palmer) North Down 1 (J Gilmore); Belfast Harlequins 3 (L McClelland 2, M Gray) Civil Service 3 (C Barnes 2, M Willis)
Linden Cup: Armagh 3 Cliftonville 2 (J Stevenson, M cKimm); Antrim 4 (D Wilson 2, R McClintock, A Linford) Ballynahinch 1 (W Edgar); Bangor 5 (D McClune 2, R Burgess, M McCombe, Z McKee) Raphoe 1 (A Meehan)
U16 inter-provincials: Saturday: Ulster 4 (T McClintock, M Taylor, T Chambers, S Wylie) Munster 2 (C Sparling, K O'Dea); Ulster 2 (C Quinn, M Aughey) Leinster 1 L Power). Yesterday: Ulster 2 (T Chambers, DJ Erskine) Munster 2 (K O'Dea)
U18 inter-provincials: Saturday: Ulster 2 (J Haycock, M Milliken) Munster 1 R Johnson); Ulster 2 (H Morris 2) Leinster 0. Sunday: Ulster 1 (M Milliken) Munster 2 (J Salter 2).