Rory O'Loughlin and Jordan Larmour after the match Darren Kidd/INPHO

Cullen pleased to take inter-pro win despite 'flat' feeling to performance

The head coach also had praise for his ‘inspired substitution’ Jordan Larmour.

IT WAS FAR from a jubilant mood taking Leo Cullen as he looked back on a 10 – 25 win over Ulster, Leinster’s first in Belfast since 2014.

Instead, the blues’ head coach was left lamenting a sense of low energy about his squad in the wake of their 10/10 European return in recent weeks.

Fortunately for Cullen, Ulster were some way short of the intensity and accuracy levels required to win any inter-pro

“It was far from a classic,” Cullen said post-match in Kingspan Stadium.

“Reasonably poor game with a lot of errors, but we haven’t had a great record here so we’re delighted with the outcome.

“Performance-wise, there were some good aspects from our defence. There were plenty of errors, we can get better at those.

One of the things is, these weeks there is a challenge because there’s so much emotional energy that goes into the previous three weeks – Munster in the Aviva and two European games – even though we had a lot of changes and we’re conscious of that, still the group were a little bit flat for whatever reason.”

Defence aside, the positive elements of the night for Cullen centred around individual displays. Sean O’Brien was back from injury and suitably looked a cut above as he barged and carved through Ulster’s defence. And for 78 minutes, Cullen had asked Jordan Larmour – a talented 20-year-old who looks destined for any place in the back three -  to work at outside centre.

“An inspired substitution,” Cullen said wryly after Larmour’s big chance in midfield came as a result of an early HIA fail for Noel Reid – Ireland squad member James Ryan was also called ashore early with a head knock.

“Jordan stepped in and played there in pre-season and in the Zebre game he stepped in there as well, so I think he did incredibly well in the circumstances.

“If you look at the very experienced back-line they were up against as well — incredible footwork for his try and he has that bit of x-factor as well. He’s got plenty of things to work on, but he’s a good kid and he works hard.

“We asked a lot of Jordan to be able to do that (play at 13). Hats off, he just gets on with things and he’s happy to truck on.

“He’s going to get better, Jordan. Because he wants to get better and he wants to learn. A positive step for him today.”

Slotting in alongside Ross Byrne and Rory O’Loughlin, Larmour dragged the average age of Leinster’s 10-12-13 channel down to just 21. The ever-impressive Leinster production line will be put to the test for next week’s clash with unbeaten Glasgow Warriors. Nowhere more than midfield as Reid joins a list of centre absences that already included Garry Ringrose, Thomas Daly and Isa Nacewa on top of Robbie Henshaw who packs his bags for international camp.

“We’re going to need a lot of those young players. 18 guys going into camp and we’re playing a against a team unbeaten in the Pro14 – though they’ll be missing a lot of players as well.”


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