Clonakilty woman is head coach of Munster women’s team that won interpro series
BY DENIS HURLEY
CLONAKILTY’S Laura Guest, coach of the interprovincial-winning Munster Women’s side, had no doubts that her side would come out on top against Leinster.
With the way the previous two rounds had gone, there were a few permutations ahead of the Thomond Park clash with the reigning champions, but an 11-6 win for the hosts at Thomond Park secured victory for them on scoring difference, their tally of 29 two greater than Leinster’s.
Having lost to Connacht in their opening game, albeit with a losing bonus point, Munster responded well with a 32-5 win over Ulster in the second round of games.
However, they still needed Leinster to do them a favour against the westerners and Guest outlined how everything went to play.
‘We needed Leinster to win,’ she says, ‘but without getting a try bonus point and without allowing Connacht to get a losing bonus point. Luckily for us, that’s exactly how it worked out and it meant that we knew exactly what we needed to do.
‘It couldn’t have been more straightforward on paper and obviously it’s different when you get out on the pitch but I could really feel a different energy among the girls all weekend.’
Scrum half Ellen Murphy had two first-half penalties as Munster led 6-0 at half-time, a lead which was augmented as prop Gillian Bourke got over for a try early in the second half.
Ailsa Hughes did cross for a Leinster try to leave things nervy for the home side as time ran out, but Guest always had faith in her team.
‘It got a bit nerve-wracking towards the end, and I was far from calm on the sideline!’ she admits, ‘but I still knew they’d do it.
‘They were very patient all through, they didn’t give away kickable penalties and overall it was a very measured display.’
Coming off a third-placed finish in 2016-17, the campaign marked an impressive turnaround for the province but Guest never saw this year as just being about transition.
‘Leinster would have been the favourites,’ she says, ‘as they were the champions and have more AIL Division 1 teams.
‘The tradition is always strong her in Munster though, this was the 20th season of the interpros and Munster had won 13 of the previous 19.
‘I think last year had made the girls a bit hungrier, they had been going for a three in a row and finished third, so they were keen to bounce back.
‘I could see it in them that they were willing to do anything to get back on top.’