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Juniors kick away last hope of inter-pro title

By Ronnie Ingram

If Ulster Juniors had kicked their penalties, they would have been the inter-provincial champions, but their 21-21 draw with Leinster gave their opponents the title and dropped them behind Munster whose 21-16 defeat of Connacht earned them second place.

Leinster finished on 11 points with former holders Munster on nine, Ulster eight and Connacht one.

The game at ?? turned into an abrasive contest with no fewer than six yellow card being shown, two of them to Leinster second row Niall Smullen, so he finished on the sidelines for the closing 11 minutes.

Ulster had the territorial advantage at the start and were rewarded with two penalties from Ballyclare's Gary Clotworthy. However, a Stephen Magee breakaway try, goaled by Bill Duggan, put Leinster in front until Clotworthy ran in for a score and added a penalty to give the home team a warranted 14-7 interval lead.

They made a good start to the second half as well, Enniskillen's Jamie Johnston picking up five metres out to go under the posts for Bangor's Jason Morgan to add the points. But this proved a wake-up call for Leinster who dictated most of the play for the next 20 minutes.

Right winger Niall O'Donoghue cut through for their second try and then good forward play allowed Barry Stewart to score, Duggan converting both.

Ulster manager John Todd said he had seen better performances from his team, adding: "We fell off a few tackles and missed four penalties although they were all difficult.

"Our front row of Chris Nash, Phil Whyte and James Blair out-scrummaged the opposition in the first half but Leinster were a good side from one to 15."

Ballymena V won the Harden Cup after an extra-time win over Ballynahinch IV 28-25, while Malone V clinched the Ravenhill Cup, hammering Inishowen 48-3.

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