Munster secure hurling win after football loss

Munster 2-22 Connacht 2-19, Croke Park

A crowd of 10,127 watched at Croke Park tonight as Munster secured the 2007 M Donnelly Interprovincial hurling championship following impressive performances from both the winning and losing teams.

However, this game was not without controversy as Connacht had a 62nd-minute goal disallowed, yet television replays showed that the Keith Higgins effort was a legitimate one.

Munster bounded out of the blocks early on thanks to a John Mullane goal after just a minute and this was quickly followed by an Eoin Kelly point, but Connacht were not content to let Munster walk over them and responded well with two pointed frees from Niall Healy.

Healy was Connacht's talisman during the opening half with five points, keeping the westerners in the hunt as they trailed by just a point at the interval.

Munster led for all of the opening quarter before Connacht eventually broke into the lead after firstly cutting the deficit to a point thanks to an Aonghus Callanan goal.

Callanan's spectacular one-handed strike cut the deficit to 1-5 to 1-4 and although Mullane scored the next point, three points in quick succession from Damien Hayes, Healy and Callanan put Connacht one point to the good.

Connacht were then dealt a major blow following a serious injury to their captain David Collins and as they tried to cope with this loss, they were caught napping as Munster centre-forward Ollie Moran broke through to crash the ball to the net.

Connacht responded strongly with points from Healy and Damien Hayes before they broke through for a second goal thanks to some excellent work by half-forward Alan Kerins, who finished the ball to the net in the 28th-minute.

Despite Connacht leading by 2-9 to 2-6 lead at this stage, Munster scored five unanswered points before the interval including three from Waterford's Kelly to ensure a 2-11 to 2-9 half-time advantage.

The second half saw the intensity maintained and a mini battle of the freetakers between Eoin Kelly and Healy was now ensuing - and there were plenty of other sideshows to keep the small crowd entertained.

Thanks to the efforts of Healy, the sides were level at 2-13 a piece in the 44th-minute and no more than three points separated the sides over the final quarter.

There were excellent individual scores from both sides during the second half but some inaccurate shooting did creep into the game, particularly in the closing ten minutes.

Connacht substitute Keith Higgins of Mayo had the ball in the Munster net with seven minutes remaining but his score was cancelled out due to a technical infringement.

Scorers -

Munster: E Kelly 0-10 (0-6f), J Mullane 1-2, J Gardiner 0-4 (0-2f, 1 '65'), D O'Grady 0-3, L Corbett 0-2, G Quinn 0-1.

Connacht: N Healy 0-11 (0-8f), A Callanan 1-3, D Hayes 0-3, A Kerins 1-0, C Dervan 0-2 (0-2f).

MUNSTER: B Murray; E Murphy, D Fanning, G Quinn; J Gardiner, T Browne, S Hickey; D O'Grady, B O'Connell; S McGrath, O Moran, E Kelly (Waterford); J Mullane, D Shanahan, L Corbett.

Subs used: S Og O'hAilpin for O Connell (20-49 mins, blood sub), N Gilligan for McGrath (33), G O'Grady for Murphy (43), O'hAilpin for Quinn (49), N Moran for O Moran (53), M O'Brien for Shanahan (58-64, blood sub).

CONNACHT: J Skehill; F Moore, C Dervan, G Mahon; D Collins, J Lee, A Keary; F Healy, R Murray; A Kerins, I Tannian, S Glynn; D Hayes, N Healy, A Callanan.

Subs used: D Joyce for Collins (25 mins), T Og Regan for Mahon (32), G Kennedy for Keary (35-38, blood sub), K Hynes for Glynn (half-time), K Higgins for Kerins (54), G Kennedy for Moore (61).

Referee: Declan Magee (Down)

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