Ulster continue dominance of Inter-pro football championship
Connacht undone in the final as Ulster claim a record 32nd title in Carrick-on-Shannon
Ulster’s Eoin Donnelly is presented with the Interprovincial football cup by GAA President Aogan O’Fearghail. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho
Ulster 2-16 Connacht 3-10
A strong second half performance by Ulster gave them their 32nd Inter-provincial football triumph in an entertaining game played before 400 hundred spectators at Pairc Sean MacDiarmada, Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday.
Roscommon captain Ciaráin Murtagh opened the Connacht account with a point from play within a minute of the start followed two minutes later by a Danny Cummins score.
A Peter Harte pointed free one minute later got the Ulstermen off the mark but in the seventh minute the in-form Murtagh got on the end of a Niall Murphy pass to score the game’s first goal - with Ulster struggling to find their rhythm early on.
Two pointed frees by Harte were added to when Stefan Campbell scored Ulster’s first point from play in the 10th - but one minute later Murtagh scored his team’s second goal when Murphy’s quickly taken 13 metre free caught Ulster napping.
Tomás Corrigan and Jason Doherty exchanged points at the beginning of the second quarter and Ulster got themselves back in the game when Aidan Breen finished an excellent move to the net in the 18th minute.
Three Ulster points to one by Connacht between the 20th and 25th minute left the minimum in it but three minutes later Connacht extended their lead when Damien Comer scored a third goal.
However the Northerners responded with two unanswered points and following a further exchange of points, this young Connacht outfit deservedly led 3-6 to 1-10 at half time.
Half time substitute Chrissy McKaigue had only been on the field for one minute when he was black carded for a foul on Fintan Cregg, but the Ulstermen quickly recovered and following an exchange of points a 39th minute Charlie Vernon piledriver nestled into the back of the net.
His effort from 30 metres on the right was to prove the game changer.
As Connacht visibly tired the northerners took charge scoring three points without reply to establish a commanding lead with twelve minutes remaining.
Both sides then emptied their bench in the final quarter but Ulster maintained their cohesion and their lead despite the best efforts of the western province.
It was fitting that the final score of the game, a pointed free came from Leitrim’s Emlyn Mulligan - with his county hosting their first Inter-provincial final.
ULSTER: N Morgan, M Jones, K Clarke, D O’Hagan, T McCann, C Moynagh, A Breen(1-2), E Donnelly(C), C Vernon(1-1), K Niblock, P Harte(0-5,4f), E Lynn(0-3), N Sludden, S Campbell(0-1), T Corrigan(0-4 2f).
Subs: R Johnston for K Niblock (28m), C McKaigue for C Moynagh(HT), B Rogers for C McKaigue(BC) 31m), D McCusker for K Clarke(37m), M Donnolly for S Campbell(44m), T Kernan for C Vernon(55m), N McKeever for E Lynn(58m).
CONNACHT: D Clarke, K McDonnell, J Duane, D Wynne, N Daly, G O’Donnell(C), J Heaney, E Smith (0-1), K Higgins, F Cregg, D Cummins(0-1), C Murtagh (2-3), N Murphy, D Comer (1-1), J Doherty(0-2).
Subs: P Conroy(0-1f) for D Cummins(10m), D Wrynn for K Higgins(44m), G Bradshaw for J Doherty(48m), E Mulligan (0-1f) for P Conroy(51m), J McManus for K McDonnell(52m), D Murtagh for N Murphy(56m), C O’Shea for E Smith(58m).
Referee: P O’Sullivan(Kerry).