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19th May 2024

Leo Cullen reflects on “frustrating” Ulster loss as Munster stay top

Ronan Calvert

John Cooney and Leo Cullen

Ulster got the better of Leinster on Saturday evening.

A 23-21 win for Ulster over Leinster was not a result anybody was expecting on Saturday evening, but that’s exactly what we got.

Richie Murphy, who was only appointed permanent Ulster boss this week, architected their “most complete performance” of the season to somehow do the double over their provincial rivals.

Yes, Leinster’s team selection had one eye on next week’s Champions Cup final against French giants Toulouse, but they did welcome back Ireland regulars Hugo Keenan and James Ryan for the exciting contest at the Kingspan.

It was, however, neither Keenan or Ryan who swung the outcome of the game, but a forgotten Ireland star of the same generation: Jacob Stockdale.

The winger’s 58th minute interception proved a shot to the Ulster arm, the northern province were suddenly on the ascendancy and a last gasp penalty-kick from reliable scrumhalf John Cooney was enough to seal the deal.

The result means that Leinster remain in third place in the URC standings on 60 points; one point behind the Bulls and three behind 63-point Munster who beat Edinburgh on Friday.

A reinvigorated Ulster sit in sixth place thanks to their eleventh win of the season, boasting a grand total of 53 points.

Speaking to the media after the game, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen tried his best to articulate his thoughts on the encounter:

“Frustrating I think, I thought there was a lot of good effort in the game,” he said.

“We had a plenty of chances, we were ahead right until the very end so, listen, there’s probably good learning in how we manage some of that last 20 minutes.

“We had plenty of opportunities, we had them in the far corner, the maul is going forward well and we give away the penalty.

“We had some other opportunities as well, anyway it’s just a frustrating game.

“You couldn’t fault the effort, the effort was great.

“It was great to get ourselves in a good position, but we need to be better in terms of how we execute certain things.”

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