Leinster 1200

7 April, 2023

Leinster were crowned U18 Inter Counties Tournament 2023 champions after a dominant week in Nottingham.

Having finished third a year ago, Leinster did not drop more than three rubbers in a tie this week to claim the title in style on Thursday afternoon.

At the start of the week, Leinster defeated Avon, Surrey and Lincolnshire to progress to the second round of group stage action.

There, they were drawn against top seeds Yorkshire, as well as Sussex and Staffordshire, but were comfortably able to reach the final group round.

Having previously picked up whitewash victories against Sussex and Staffordshire, they beat Yorkshire 7-3 to continue their quest for the title.

Their unbeaten run saw them reach the decisive group stage alongside Nottinghamshire, Middlesex and Hertfordshire to decide ranking places from first to fourth.

Identical 7-3 victories against both Nottinghamshire and Middlesex meant that they just needed a victory against Hertfordshire to claim the title, and an 8-2 triumph saw them take the crown.

Nottinghamshire defeated both Middlesex and Hertfordshire to claim second place overall, with Middlesex in third and Hertfordshire just missing out on a podium spot in fourth.

Leinster coach Amanda Dunlop said: “Today’s match was probably the hardest match we had because we had to get over the line. It was 8-2 in the end, so I’m delighted with that.

Leinster 1200 in body

“Having gone into the ‘group of death’ with Yorkshire, the team were really up for that game and it was really difficult to get them up for the next group. In fairness to them, we talked them round, they did their part and did what they had to.

“As it happens, the ten players we have here this year are all available next year as well. It will be their last year bar one – who also has another year – so it’s a young team, but they’re a very strong team.

“The cohesion is there, the kids know what it’s all about. I’m just enormously proud of the way that they played, the way that they conducted themselves, and they’re a great bunch of kids.”

Among the standout performers for Leinster was 16-year-old Chloe McGrane, who captained the squad in Nottingham this week.

“It’s been intense. We got a tough group at the start, and we were unfortunate to have the top seeds Yorkshire in the second group,” she said. “This was one of the tough games and we had to mentally prepare for it.

“Going into it we were trying to give it our all and we think winning that is really what pushed us forward to go on, because if it had gone the other way we would have been in the 5-8 fighting for fifth place. It’s a completely different story winning it.

“I was quite nervous going into the final day. Wednesday went really well but every day is a new day. You have to start again, get your feet going and make sure you’re consistent.

“Our team has great craic. Most of us train together and as we’re such a small country we all know each other, and there’s very few tournaments. What really made us win were the friendships and the bonds that we have.

“Every pairing that’s played together, you can just see the friendship on court and how we want to play for each other. We weren’t winning for ourselves, we were winning for our coaches and everyone back home.

“I’m lucky enough to have another year – hopefully to win again next year!”

Images courtesy of Alan Spink

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