Leinster Rugby’s U-18 women’s blistering start helped them to a 24-0 win, but the sides were well matched over 80 minutes of entertaining rugby at the IRFU High Performance Centre.

The opening try came in the first minute with Connacht’s kick-off being run back with interest. Aoife Dalton made up the ground on the right wing and fed Alanna Fitzpatrick to go under the posts.

The second try wasn’t far behind for Mick Bolger’s young women. Connacht’s defensive line was stretched on the 22, affording Katie Whelan the chance to snipe straight from the base of the ruck and out sprint the cover.

Connacht backed their scrum to help them settle into the game and some assured kicking from Eabha Ni Donnacha helped them nudge into opposition territory, only for Leinster’s line speed to suffocate their attack.

Leinster were soon back in the green zone and Whelan again exposed a gap on the blindside to grab her second try of the game after 20 minutes.

It was into the second quarter before Connacht got a foothold in Leinster’s 22, giving Clara Barrett and Molly Boote the chance to showcase their threat with ball in hand in running back Leinster’s clearing kicks.

Connacht were starting to build momentum and had the edge of an extra player when Erin King received a yellow card after some persistent infringements from the Leinster side. Roisin Maher went close for Connacht, but Leinster held out to lead 21-0 at half time.

Back up to their full complement of 15 players, Leinster looked to re-establish control of the game in the third quarter. Whelan’s wheels came close to earning her a hat-trick, but the scrum half was pulled down by an impressive scramble tackle from replacement Hannah Clarke who repeated the feat against Aoife Dalton moments later.

A yellow card to Koren Dunne for offside after 62 minutes presented Connacht with their best chance of a score in the game. Ivana Kiripati went close from the resulting scrum, Maria Gorham was forced into touch short of the line soon after and Molly Boote had a chance after she caught Ni Donnacha’s cross field kick.

Leinster however were the ones to notch the only score of the second half. A high tackle presented Dannah O’Brien with a penalty in front of the posts in the final minutes and the young out half duly put her left boot through the ball to hit 4/4 on the day.

Leinster Rugby U-18 Women: Tries: Alanna Fitzpatrick, Katie Whelan (2), Pen: Dannah O’Brien

Leinster Rugby U-18 Women: Ciara Boland (Enniscorthy RFC), Emma Tilly (MU Barnhall RFC), Victoria Elmes Kinlan (Wicklow RFC), Aoife Dalton (Tullamore RFC), Alanna Fitzpatrick (Portarlington RFC), Dannah O’Brien (Tullow RFC), Katie Whelan (Enniscorthy RFC); Hannah Wilson (Cill Dara RFC), Sarah Delaney (Cill Dara RFC), Isobel Clerk (Mullingar RFC), Koren Dunne (Portlaoise RFC), Leah Tarpey (Tullamore RFC), Eadaoin Murtagh (Port Dara RFC) Aoife Wafer (Enniscorthy RFC) CAPTAIN, Erin King (Old Belvedere RFC)

Replacements: Anna Brennock (Old Belvedere RFC), Ava Kavanagh (Arklow RFC), Meabh Keegan (Clontarf FC), Amy O’Mahony (Greystones RFC), Ruth Campbell (Naas RFC), Emma Larkin (Portlaoise RFC), Abby Moyles (Navan RFC), Eva Sterritt (Greystones RFC)

Connacht Rugby U-18 Women: Clara Barrett (Ballina RFC), Molly Boote (Connemara RFC), Cliona O’Sullivan (Sligo RFC), Eabha Ni Donnacha (Corinthians RFC), Maria Gorham (Connemara RFC), Aifric Ni Ghibne (Corinthians RFC), Olivia Haverty (Ballinasloe RFC); Joann Curley (Ballinasloe RFC), Katelyn Bourke (Ballina RFC) – Captain, Roisin Maher (Creggs RFC), Grainne Hahessy (Claremorris RFC), Mollie Starr (Portumna RFC), Ellie Clarke (Buccaneers RFC), Sarah McCormick (Ballina RFC), Ivana Kiripati (Buccaneers RFC).

Replacements: Ellen O’Toole (Westport RFC), Rosie Ganley (Claremorris RFC), Aoife Keighery (Ballinasloe RFC), Karly Tierney (Oughterard RFC), Aibidh Ni Mhaille (Corinthians RFC), Amy McWilliams (Ballina RFC), Emma Mitchell (Ballinasloe RFC), Hannah Clarke (Oughterard RFC).

Imagery: Inpho