No let-up on both sides as Leinster progress


Leinster 3-14 Munster 1-16:THE FINAL score you know. Next thing you’ll be interested in is the attendance at Nowlan Park yesterday for this hurling interprovincial semi-final. In the event it amounted to 1,059 paying customers. After that you’re probably curious as to what the managers had to say about it all.

“Great game, great spectacle,” declared the losers’ boss Liam Sheedy, whose side had fought back from arrears of 10 points shortly before half-time to be within a point of their opponents seven minutes from the end.

“The better team won but we were very very close. Overall I’m really pleased. The lads left everything out there.”

Being the traditionalist type, Sheedy wants to see the competition they couldn’t hang retained in some shape or form. So too does his opposite number Joe Dooley.

“Obviously it has dwindled in importance over a number of years. It needs a place in the calendar.” As to what that place might be, Dooley had a suggestion: play it on St Patrick’s Day before the All-Ireland club final.

Whether the powers-that-be choose to heed him, what cannot be denied is that yesterday’s affair was, in GAA vernacular, a right old rattle on a lovely spring afternoon. Leinster started with the entire Kilkenny defence and midfield, plus two Dubs – one of them a converted Tipperary man – and two of the Offaly-born manager’s fellow county men, including his son, Shane Dooley.

Munster had six from Tipperary, a quartet from Cork, two each from Waterford and Clare and one Limerick man.

Leinster struck early and hard. The match was not yet 90 seconds old when Michael Fennelly reprised his Croke Park goal of last September, breaking through from midfield as the space opened up ahead of him and finding the net with a low shot off his left, albeit this time without a bounce.

Their second goal arrived midway through the half. Richie Hogan picked off a short puckout from Donal Óg Cusack and set up Joe Bergin for a neat finish from close range. Richie Power’s conversion of a penalty won on the half-hour by Ryan O’Dwyer, the one Tipperary man in green as opposed to blue, helped Leinster to a 3-8 to 0-8 interval lead.

But Munster kept at it. John Conlon, who Davy Fitzgerald will be pleased to note finished with 1-3 to his credit, got a goal back three minutes after the restart, belting the sliotar home first time after a nicely-weighted Brendan Maher handpass. Thereafter they poked and prodded away, and a Brick Walsh point in the 61st minute left the minimum between the teams, 3-10 to 1-15.

Four minutes later Patrick Horgan’s 20-metre free was saved, Power promptly picking off a point at the other end when the ball was cleared, and Leinster closed it out with scores from Dooley and Colin Fennelly. Good fun indeed. Wheezing but still alive, the interprovicials stagger on.

LEINSTER: G Maguire; P Murphy, N Hickey, J Tyrrell (capt); T Walsh, B Hogan (0-1), JJ Delaney; M Fennelly (1-0), M Rice; J Bergin (1-1); R Power (1-5, goal pen, 0-3 frees); R O’Dwyer (0-1); S Dooley (0-3, one free), E Larkin, R Hogan. Subs: D Stamp for B Hogan (h-t); W Hyland for R Hogan (h-t); C Fennelly (0-1) for O’Dwyer (53 mins); R Hanniffy for Bergin (60 mins); R Jacob for Rice (69 mins).

MUNSTER: D Óg Cusack; T Condon, P Curran, M Cahill; J Gardiner (0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 65’); Padraic Maher, P Donnellan (0-1); S O’Sullivan, S McGrath (0-1); P Cronin (0-1), M Walsh (0-1), B Maher; P Horgan (0-3), E Kelly (0-1, free), J Conlon (1-3). Subs: D O’Grady for McGrath (h-t); S Molumphy for Cronin (43 mins); G Ryan for Kelly (54 mins); Patrick Maher (0-2, frees) for Gardiner (57 mins); K Moran for Donnellan (67 mins).

Referee: A Kelly (Galway).