Connacht 1-18 Munster 0-16
Champions Munster crashed out of the M Donnelly interprovincial hurling competition yesterday as an inspired second half from Anthony Cunningham’s all-Galway Connacht side sealed a fourth final berth in a row.
Connacht hit an unanswered 1-7 to start the second half as they turned a four-point deficit into a six-point lead with Davy Glennon hitting the crucial goal in the 39th minute.
Playing with the wind in the first half at Duggan Park in Ballinasloe, Liam Sheedy’s Munster didn’t look a side that was first assembled in the dressing room before the game as they led 0-10 to 0-6.
And afterwards, Sheedy called for the competition to retained, but moved to a more suitable time as he was unable to do any preparation work with his side.
“We need to keep this competition going but I really would question if this is the best time to run it. Maybe two weeks after the All-Ireland final might suit everyone better, players’ schedules are so hectic in what is the week before their national league campaign starts.
“Every player I rang was delighted to play with Munster. They were delighted to get the call and were very anxious to come and play. I hope it survives because it is a medal that those boys treasure and after they got one last year they refused to throw in the towel today,” said the former Tipperary manager.
Conor Cooney got the home side off the mark with a good first-minute point, but the remainder of the opening quarter belonged to Munster.
Padraic Maher was the first to punish a sloppy clearance out of defence with a long-range score after seven minutes and after Patrick Horgan slotted a free to give Munster the lead, Noel McGrath hit the point of the game as two long, pinpoint passes from Anthony Nash and Brendan Maher picked him out on the right wing.
In the midst of a lot of mediocre Connacht hurling, Iarla Tannian was the one shining light and it was on the back of his powerful centre-back play that Connacht began to gain a foothold. Points from Padraig Brehony and three Cooney frees meant Connacht only trailed by four at the break.
The scale of the Connacht recovery after the break was remarkable as their heavy-legged play was replaced with crisp hurling and fine scoring. Jason Flynn was to the fore with three points from play, while Jonathan Glynn burst through the middle, then picked out Glennon for the game’s only goal.
Anthony Nash trotted forward for a 20-metre free in the 56th minute in an attempt to pull Munster back into the tie, but his trademark technique only earned a point.
After that it was simple for Connacht and Anthony Cunningham, who used the game as preparation for his Galway side’s opening league game against Dublin next weekend.
“We needed all the help we can get ahead of next week against Dublin,” said Cunningham. “It’s the first round for the league and they are Leinster champions and we need to be fully focused for that. But today was great preparation for that. We’d be happy that the guys are progressing well,” he said.
Scorers for Connacht: C Cooney 0-11 (7fs, 0-1pen), J Flynn 0-3, D Glennon 1-0, P Brehony 0-2, C Mannion & R Cummins 0-1 each.
Scorers for Munster: P Horgan 0-6 (4f), D Kearney, N McGrath, A Nash (2f) & C Ryan (1f) 0-2 each, P Maher & S Walsh 0-1 each.
CONNACHT (all Galway): J Skehill; F Moore, R Burke, J Coen; D Collins, I Tannian, G McInerney; David Burke, P Brehony; J Flynn, C Cooney, J Glynn; P Landers, C Mannion, D Glennon.
Subs: A Harte for McInerney h-t, R Cummins for Landers 43, Daithi Burke for Tannian 54, K Hynes for Mannion 61, D Dolan for Glennon 65.
MUNSTER: A Nash (Cork); T Condon (Limerick), R McCarthy (Limerick), N Connors (Waterford); B Bugler (Clare), M Walsh (Waterford), P Maher (Tipperary); W McNamara (Limerick), B Maher (Tipperary); D Kearney (Cork), N McGrath (Tipperary), S Molumphy (Waterford); G Mulcahy (Limerick), P Horgan (Cork), C Ryan (Clare).
Subs: M Cahill (Tipperary) for McCarthy h-t, S Walsh (Waterford) for Mulcahy 51, D O’Donovan (Clare) for Condon 53, P Donnellan (Clare) for Bugler 59, L McLoughlin (Cork) for Horgan 66.
Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow).
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