Leinster’s Junior Interprovincial team take to the road this Saturday travelling to Cork for the first game in defence of their Inter Pro title.

The clash with Munster in Cobh will define the ambitions of this side as they seek back-to-back success in a competition that showcases the best talent in junior rugby across the island of Ireland.

The Leinster back room team comprises of Manager is Derick Turner of Longford RFC, Assistant Manager is Damien Curley also of Longford RFC, the Head Coach is David Mahon of Monkstown RFC the Forwards & assistant Coach is Niall Moran of Longford RFC, the Defence Coach John Bagnall of Clondalkin. The support structure for the players brings a wealth of experience to the Leinster Junior Club team.

The first game of the series for the title holders sees them take on a Munster side eager to capitalise on the home advantage. The southern tie will be followed with a home game in Westmanstowns Garda RFC where a visiting Connacht side are sure to test the resolve of the holders.  The final outing is also a home tie, as Ulster will be venturing to Ashbourne.

The last few weeks have seen frantic preparations for this annual outing of the cream of junior rugby talent.  The initial Leinster squad comprised of representatives from 21 clubs, but the involvement of Dundalk in the AIL round robin playoff along with Enniscorthy and Kilkenny’s involvment in the Towns Cup final have ruled some valuable players out of the opening game.

Manager Derick Turner says that the competition fulfils a valuable role in Irish rugby: “With 80% of Irelands rugby clubs competing at junior grade this is possibly the most representative rugby competition on the island. It gives players a chance to show what they have to offer in front of a larger audience.”

Turner is aware of the challenges ahead of him: “It is a great honour to be selected as part of the team structure. We know the challenges ahead and the high standard of the opposition we face, but the quality of players in the Leinster Junior leagues is impressive. Of course that has led to some selection difficulties in the last few months.”

The selection of the panel to participate in this year’s competition has been a painstaking process.  Narrowing down the panel has not been easy: “Our firs testing of the water was a game against AIL side Tullamore. In that encounter we roistered 36 players and it gave us a good opportunity to run the rule over the talent we have available. Obviously the unavailability of players from Dundalk, Enniscorty and Kilkenny may put a dent in our favourites tag, but we have a great squad of players and they are all gelling well together as a team.”

Assistant Manager Damien Curley said that he is particularly delighted to be able to make a contribution to the Leinster Junior set up. He said that the selection of two other club men brings particularly pleasing: “To have three people from Longford RFC involved is great for the club and I think it reflects on the success that the club has enjoyed over the last few seasons. Derick’s knowledge of the Junior game in Leinster is second to none. I think it would have been difficult for the selection committee to look beyond him, when his name came up he was the obvious choice. He will bring all that experience to bear on his role as head coach.”

Manager Derick Turner said that the competition will throw up some great contests: “There is never anything easy in these inter provincial games. It is a great competition and is played at a very high standard. The challenge is to knit players from different clubs who would have contrasting styles into a cohesive unit. It is a significant challenge, but it is a great opportunity for junior players to represent their Province. It also gives players a chance to play with players they would normally be opposing or never play against.

Last year’s decisive encounter against Ulster when Leinster won the title was a fine example of the thrilling spectacle that these outings offer the spectators.  The boys in blue will be hoping that they can recreate the form of last year’s games and retain the silverware.