The Leinster Rugby Juniors got their 2018 Interprovincial Series off to a positive start when they travelled to Ballinrobe RFC to take on Connacht, securing a hard-fought 17-34 victory.

Leinster got off the mark early with a try from winger Derek Williams (Dundalk RFC). The try was converted by out-half Gearoid McDonald also of Dundalk, giving the Leinster boys an early lead.

Connacht fought back and their efforts were rewarded with a penalty converted by scrum-half Ryan Guilfoyle.

Leinster Rugby Juniors

After a fast start, 10 points had been scored in as many minutes.

Leinster were intent on playing a quick game looking to release their backline at every opportunity and the warm, sunny and dry conditions certainly facilitated their intentions.

The Leinster lads struck back with a second try on 14 minutes through their other winger, Corey Carty (Wexford Wanderers). The Wexford man has had an incredible season with his club and showed it on the day with some fine attacking and defensive work. His try was converted by McDonald and Leinster stretched their lead to 11 points.

Leinster Rugby Juniors

Connacht dug deep and took the game to Leinster but the men in blue were in electric form in the first half and they were to strike again through their backs on 25 minutes.

A flowing movement resulted in Carty getting in for his second try of the afternoon.

The conversion was missed but Leinster now had a commanding 3-19 lead.

Leinster struck again on 36 minutes with a converted try through their experienced captain, Longford RFC man Kieran O’Gorman.

Leinster Rugby Juniors

However, the men in green were resilient and determined not to give in to their visitors. Local man Rob Holian of Ballinrobe RFC got in for a try on 40 minutes. He seemed to be tackled 15 metres out from the Leinster line. However, he was not held and continued forward before regaining his feet and racing in under the Leinster posts. The conversion was added and Leinster would have felt a little annoyed to have allowed a strong lead to be dented just before the break.

This was the proverbial game of two halves. Although Leinster struck first in the second half with a penalty, kicked by the impressive McDonald, Connacht came out fighting and this was the case for the remainder of the game.

Leinster rarely got out of their own half and had to defend against wave after wave of Connacht attacks.

Connacht’s endeavours were rewarded with a try on 59 minutes through Holian, getting his second score of the afternoon. This was also converted to make it 17-29.

Despite their best efforts, Connacht could not get over the Leinster line again and it was Leinster who finished off the game with a try through Co Carlow FC man Joe Gorman with the last play of the match. The replacement hooker was at the tail of a maul, set up from a lineout that drove its way over the Connacht line. The try went unconverted leaving the final score at 17-34.

Leinster Rugby Juniors: Dan Costello (Stephen Duffy), Derek Williams, Mikey Russell, Matt Stapleton (Paul O’Connor), Corey Carty, Gearoid McDonald, Stephen Horan (Conor McCrossan), Jonathan Gray (Dylan Quinn), Sean Arrowsmith (Joe Gorman), Robert Farrell, Wes Carter, Benny McManus, Kieran O’Gorman, Karl Keogh (Tom Barron), Tom Satchwell (Tom Brady).