Leinster took the Under-21 interprovincial title with a 5-2 victory over Connacht at Grange Road following a cracking contest with all the goals coming in a wild second half.
It was a scarcely predictable final scoreline after a scoreless first half in which the western province enjoyed plenty of the game.
But Leinster struck first in the 44th minute and followed up with two more in a blistering four minute spell to transform the look of the game. Lauren Johnston set them on their way, swooping to push in the first on her forehand to pop home and she added the second with a backhand flip after Orna Bools’ right-wing burst.
Zoe Watterson rebounded for the third in the 49th minute as Leinster suddenly were out of sight. Bools added a fourth with an audacious upright backhand shot but Connacht had plenty of fire and they got on the board with Fiona Kelly’s powerful hit.
Blues’ captain Bools swept in a corner switch for 5-1 before Jenny Buttimer completed the scoring with eight minutes to go.
In the Under-18 competition, Ulster dropped their first point of the competition thus far but the shoot-out bonus against Leinster is enough to put them into the final of the competition where they will meet Munster.
Leinster carried the lead into the half-time break with Alex Gallagher’s penalty corner goal putting them 1-0 up but Ulster replied in with Gabriella Scott getting the vital equaliser.
They went on to win the shoot-out 3-1 and now move up to eight points in the group alongside Munster who they meet in their last group game on February 6.
For Leinster, it was their first point of the series; they will meet Leinster South in their last group game, also on February 6.
Leinster South got their first win of the competition with a 1-0 win over Connacht at Wilson’s Hospital, Eva Sterritt striking from a corner.
At Under-16 level, who reaches the final is very much up for grabs with four teams still in the mix. Leinster are best placed after they picked up a shoot-out bonus against Ulster to continue their unbeaten run to date.
Ulster and Leinster both held the lead in a lively first half with Isobel Field putting Leinster 1-0 up before Annie Cunningham and Grace Cowden turned things around, 2-1 to the northern province. Field’s second of the day, though, came in the 40th minute saw Leinster earn a draw and they followed on win the shoot-out 2-1.
Leinster lead the way on eight on eight points with three sides on five points going into the final round of fixtures on February 11.
Ulster are one of them while Leinster South remain unbeaten run with a 1-1 draw against Connacht. Emily Quinn put the western province into the lead at half-time; Emer Sweetnam equalised in the 43rd minute and her side got the bonus 4-3 in the shoot-out.
Under-16: Leinster South 1 (E Sweetnam) Connacht 1 (E Quinn), Leinster South won shoot-out 4-3; Ulster 2 (A Cunningham, G Cowden) Leinster 2 (I Field 2), Leinster won shoot-out 2-1
Under-18: Leinster South 1 (E Sterritt) Connacht 0; Ulster 1 (G Scott) Leinster 1 (A Gallagher), Ulster won shoot-out 3-1
Under-21 final: Leinster 5 (L Johnston 2, O Bools 2, Z Watterson) Connacht 2 (F Kelly, J Buttimer)
— Hockey Ireland (@irishhockey) January 16, 2022