Cavanagh and McKeever steer shaky Ulster home
Ulster 1-14 Munster 1-13:A hurling mismatch between Munster and Ulster seemed like it was going to be followed by an equally one-sided football contest in Armagh when Ulster led by 10 points after 30 minutes.
However the home side totally lost their way as Munster scored an unanswered 1-8 either side of half-time, aided by the sending of David Givney for a second yellow on 48 minutes, to set up an exciting finish in front of 1,615 supporters.
Munster spurned three good chances to send the game to extra-time. Waterford’s Gary Hurney missed two (one hit the upright) and Donncha O’Connor also hit a bad wide as Ulster, who failed to score for 29 minutes either side of half-time, were let off the hook.
Joe Kernan admitted he was worried his Ulster team were going to end up in the losing corner, just like Crossmaglen 24 hours earlier.
“It could have been a very bad weekend altogether,” he said. “We’re happy to sneak a win. We were lucky enough maybe in the end, but the boys showed great heart.
“Our backs were to the wall but boys kept their heads. Ciarán McKeever and Seán Cavanagh were real leaders when it was needed and that is what great players do.”
Kernan’s side came out of the blocks quickly and led by 1-11 to 0-6 at half-time, Martin Penrose expertly finishing the goal after 10 minutes.
Cavanagh was in superb form and Monaghan’s Conor McManus was also a key figure at that stage, hitting 0-4 from play.
However the home side allowed Munster the scope to post an unanswered 1-8 either side of the interval. A penalty five minutes after the restart from Donncha O’Connor sparked the rally. Colm O’Neill was at the heart of most of Munster’s scores as they chased down Ulster’s big lead.
Aidan Walsh came into the game at midfield and Munster gradually chipped away at the deficit with points from Marc Ó Sé, Gary Brennan and sub Barry O’Driscoll.
Munster briefly took the lead when Aidan Walsh put them 1-12 to 1-11 in front with 15 minutes remaining.
Then Armagh’s McKeever scored two points from play inside 60 seconds to restore Ulster’s lead. Seán Cavanagh tagged on a free before Aidan O’Mahony’s 68th minute point left the minimum between the teams in a nail-biting finish.