Boot of Brogan inspires late Leinster fightback
Leinster 1-21 Connacht 1-20:Bernard Brogan inspired Leinster to a narrow win over a gutsy Connacht side in the semi-final of the Martin Donnelly interprovincial series at Longford yesterday afternoon.
Down by five points coming into the final 10 minutes of the game Leinster fired over six unanswered points, including four from Brogan, to book a place in the final against Ulster next Sunday.
It was Longford’s Seán McCormack who started the Leinster fightback in the 61st minute before Brogan showed just why he’s one of the best in the business. Wexford’s Adrian Flynn got his third point of the game in the closing stages and was unlucky that his low drive went over the crossbar instead of under it in the 65th minute.
From start to finish the game was end-to-end stuff and great credit most go to both sides. In a tight opening period an opportunist goal from Meath’s Joe Sheridan in the fifth minute was the difference between the sides for much of the half. Brogan was the main threat for Leinster but as Connacht got more into the game Emlyn Mulligan and Michael Conroy had some well-taken scores.
There was just one point in it when Dublin’s Cian O’Sullivan hit the upright with a powerful effort in the 26th minute and it spurred Connacht on; two points from Conroy levelled matters in the 28th minute. John Heslin restored Leinster’s lead one minute later but four points in a row gave Connacht a three point lead going in at the break; 0-14 to 1-08.
Points from Heslin, Red Barry and Brogan either side of Paul Conroy’s effort made it a one-point game in the 39th minute but Connacht replied with points from Mulligan and Martin Breheny.
Leinster then began to dig in deep and win ball around midfield. The biggest cheer of the day was when the Longford forward McCormack brought his side to within one point in the 45th minute. Points from Paddy Keenan and Michael Darragh Macauley edged Leinster ahead in the 53rd minute.
But in a five minute spell the game swung very much in Connacht’s favour when they built up a five point lead. Breheny fired over a point in the 55th minute to level the game again before Stephen Cluxton dropped Séamus O’Shea’s effort and Paul Conroy finished to the net. Lee Keegan and Conroy followed up with points to extend the lead going into the final 10 minutes before Brogan showed his class when needed.
LEINSTER: S Cluxton (Dublin); K Lillis (Laois), G Molloy (Wexford), B Malone (Wexford); M Quinn (Longford), G Brennan (Dublin), A Flynn (0-3, Wexford); MD MacCauley (0-1, Dublin), J Heslin (0-2, Westmeath); B O’Connor (0-2, Offaly), R Barry (0-1, Wexford), C O’Sullivan (Dublin); D Dolan, (Westmeath), J Sheridan (1-0, Meath), B Brogan (0-9, 0-4 frees, Dublin). Subs: S McCormack (0-2, Longford) for Dolan (18 mins), P Keenan (0-1, Longford) for Quinn (half-time), B Kavanagh (Carlow) for Brennan (41 mins), P Flynn (Dublin) for Sheridan (44 mins), J Stafford (Wicklow) for O’Connor (60 mins).
CONNACHT: D Clarke (Mayo); G Cafferkey (Mayo), F Hanley (Galway), J Moore (Galway); L Keegan (0-1, Mayo), N Daly (Roscommon), G O’Donnell Galway); J Gibbons (Mayo), S O’Shea (Mayo); M Breheny (0-3, 0-1 free, Sligo), E Mulligan (0-6, 0-3 frees, Leitrim), M Martin (0-1, Galway); A Freeman (Mayo), P Conroy (1-5, 0-1 45, Galway), M Conroy (0-4, Mayo). Subs: M Gottsche (London) for Martin (half-time), P Brennan (Leitrim) for Gottsche (58 mins). Referee: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary).