Ulster off to super start at Men's Interprovincial Championships

Tony McGee

ULSTER got of to a super start in their quest to re-capture the Men's Interprovincial title with a facile 8.5 to 2.5 defeat of Munster, at Fota Island on Monday, while defending champions Leinster only scratched out a 6-5 result against Connacht who have won the title only three times, the last time in 2011.

In the morning foursomes, Dermot McElroy and Colin Fairweather set Ulster on their way with a 7&6 whipping of Robin Dawson and John Hickey, in the top match, to be followed by a one hole win for JR Galbraith and Tiernan McLarnon over Geoff Lenehan and experienced Pat Murray.

Munster's only foursomes win was a 4&3 victory for Cathal Butler and ex-professional Peter O'Keefe against Stuart Bleakley and Jordan Hood, before Andrew McCormack and Gary O'Flaherty shared their match with Gareth Lappin and Ben Best. That meant Ulster went in at lunch leading 2.5 to 1.5 and, on resumption of play, stormed to a 6-1 demolition of the opposition in the afternoon singles.

Again, McElroy and Fairweather set the ball rolling with wins, by 2&1 and 4&3, over Dawson and Lenehan, in the top two singles, with McLarnon and Lappin bringing in 2&1 and 6&5 victories. McCormack halted the Ulster runaway but Hood and North of Ireland champion Galbraith completed the barrage with 2&1 and 3&2 wins over Murray and O'Flaherty, giving Ulster, who finished third last season, and overall 8.5 to 2.5 winning start to the competition.

Holders Leinster might have expected an easy opener against Connacht but didn't get it. They had a great start winning three of the foursomes but lost the singles 4-3, despite Rowan Lester increasing the morning 3-1 lead by defeating Stephen Healy by two holes in the first singles match and Jonathan Yates adding a 3&2 win over Jack McDonnell. The only other singles match that Leinster won was a two holes victory by Conor Purcell over Mark Morrissey, leaving the holders with a slender 6-5 first day win.

On Tuesday, Ulster will play Connacht and Leinster play Munster.


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