Leinster withstand Connacht's late rally

 

Leinster had to pull out all the stops during the closing five minutes to earn a thrilling victory over Connacht in the Railway Cup hurling final at Nowlan Park yesterday.

In the 52nd minute, substitute Alan Kerins breathed new life into a fading Connacht challenge when he grabbed a right-wing cross from Cathal Moore before shooting a terrific goal. This dragged the losers back on level terms, 2-8 to 014.

That was Connacht's first score in 18 minutes. Suddenly the game was there for the taking. But with the 2,500 crowd at last warming to the excellent onfield efforts, Leinster dug deep and regained their composure.

The winners regained the lead with a 57th-minute point from Martin Storey. Moments later substitute Niall Moloney dashed up the right wing and from 40 yards virtually on the sideline he pointed to effectively seal Leinster's first win in the series since 1993. Connacht had the last say with a point from Alan Kerins on the hour. However, earlier errors proved costly.

Connacht blew their big chance to win during the opening quarter when they shot seven wides. That was at a time when they were playing most of the hurling but, crucially, Leinster were doing the scoring. Overall, the wide tally was 13 against Connacht, and a more respectable seven against Leinster.

With David Cuddy and Charlie Carter scoring seven points between them, Leinster made most of the running, in a scoring sense, during the opening half. Three times the scores were level, the last time at 0-9 to 1-6 in the 31st minute. Then a late score from Storey gave Leinster an interval advantage of 0-10 to 1-6.

The winners had an early point from John Troy after the turn, but Connacht equalised with scores from Ollie Fahy and Noel Kenny (0-11 to 1-8).

During the next 17 minutes when the losers failed to score, Leinster had points from Storey, D J Carey and David Cuddy (free) to give them the upper-hand. Leinster looked to have things pretty much under control until Kerins shot that late Connacht goal which set up the hectic finale.

Despite the excellence of the hurling yesterday, the Railway Cup continues to experience problems. From a presentation point of view, there was one serious failure yesterday. The two men running the lines did so attired in their street clothes.

Leinster: S Byrne; S Whelahan, J Errity (all Offaly), W O'Connor (Kilkenny); L Walsh (Dublin), B Whelahan (Offaly), L Keoghan (Kilkenny); L O'Gorman, A Fenlon (both Wexford); D Cuddy (Laois) 0-5, 4 frees, M Storey (Wexford) 0-3, B McEvoy 0-1; D J Carey (both Kilkenny) 0-1, J Troy (Offaly) 0-1, C Carter (Kilkenny) 0-4. Subs: N Rigney (Laois) for Walsh (35 mins), N Moloney (Kilkenny) 0-1 for O'Gorman (40 mins). Connacht (all Galway unless stated): K Devine; G Kennedy, B Feeney, V Maher; R Walsh, N Shaughnessy, P Hardiman; T Kavanagh, M Cunniffe (Roscommon); J Rabbitte 0-1, C Moore 0-1, N Kenny 0-1; O Fahy 0-2, A Kelly (Roscommon) 0-2, K Broderick 1-1. Sub: A Kerins 1-1 for Cunniffe (37 mins). Referee: G Devlin (Armagh).