He watched his side reeled in by a Peter Harte goal and two late clinching frees from Donegal star Michael Murphy but bemoaned the lack of credit given to the competition by authorities.
He backed an idea floated by GAA president Liam O’Neill to complete the All-Ireland Club championships in the one calendar year and believes this could allow the inter-provincials regain their lustre.
“I think that’s a great idea. I think the clubs left in the last four stages of the All-Ireland Club championships can really impact their counties,” he said.
“Be that Kerry, Mayo, Dublin or Derry this year, I think to finish off the club championship in the one year is a great idea. What do the GAA want to do with the Railway Cup? Knowing it is so well supported by players, that the game today can be played with such passion, can go to extra time and everybody who witnessed it will attest to the standard in it.
“Every player came forward with eagerness, managers were for it, if spectators were here today they would have seen a marvellous game. What the GAA want to do with it in terms of where they place it [in the calendar] is their business, but certainly they have to keep it.”
There was certainly no shortage of quality or endeavour on show during the confrontation with the sides level five times in the first half as Leinster fought back from the shock of Monaghan’s Conor McManus finding the net in the opening minute.
Wicklow’s Leighton Glynn poached a Leinster goal towards the end of the first half as the sides went into the break tied on 1-11 each.
Moments after the resumption Kildare’s Paul Cribbin found the net and when Leinster opened a six-point advantage it looked as if they had the measure of the holders.
Ulster roared back though and with the outstanding trio of Murphy, Cavan’s Eugene Keating and McManus to the fore they clawed their way back to send the game to extra time, McManus hitting an injury time score to tie the match, 2-17 to 1-20.
Two Keating points put Ulster in control but two points each from Eoghan O’Flaherty of Kildare and home favourite Graham Reilly, either side of a Bryan Menton goal gave Leinster a five-point lead going into the second period of extra time. Joe Kernan’s side, however, showed incredible mettle and Harte’s 84th minute goal gave them the impetus to take their place in the final.
Scorers for Leinster: M Newman (4fs), E O’Flaherty (2fs) (0-4 each), L Glynn, P Cribben (1-1 each), B Menton (1-0), E O’Gara (0-3), G Reilly (0-2), MD MacAuley, P Keenan, P McMahon, J O’Loughlin, K McManamon, T Moolick (0-1 each).
Scorers for Ulster: M Murphy (0-8, 6fs, 1 45), C McManus (1-4), E Keating (0-6), P Harte (1-1), M Donnelly (0-2, 1f), S Cavanagh, D Givney, J Kielt (f), K Hughes, D McCurry (f) (0-1 each).
LEINSTER: P O’Rourke (Meath); D Keogan (Meath), K Reilly (Meath), P McMahon (Dublin); M Quinn (Longford), J O’Loughlin (Laois), P Cribben (Kildare); P Keenan (Louth), MD McAuley (Dublin); E O’Flaherty (Kildare), C Kilkenny (Dublin), G Reilly (Meath); L Glynn (Wicklow), E O’Gara (Dublin), M Newman (Meath).
Subs: B Menton for Reilly (bc, 22), K McManamon (Dublin) for Glynn (ht), N McNamee (Offaly) for Reilly (41), K Murnaghan (Kildare) for Quinn (bc, 45), T Moolick (Kildare) for Kilkenny (47), P Sherry for Newman (64), G Reilly for Moolick (75), C Kilkenny for McNamee (82), L Glynn for O’Flaherty (89).
ULSTER: R Beggan (Monaghan); C McKaigue (Derry), N McGee (Donegal), C Walshe (Monaghan); SL McGoldrick (Derry), R McCluskey (Fermanagh), P Harte (Tyrone); S Cavanagh (Tyrone), D Givney (Cavan); J Kielt (Derry), M Poland (Down), M McHugh (Donegal); E Keating (Cavan), M Murphy (Donegal), C McManus (Monaghan).
Subs: K Hughes (Tyrone) for Givney (23), N Morgan (Tyrone) for Beggan, M Donnelly (Tyrone) for Kielt (both ht), C Cavanagh (Tyrone) for McHugh (40), K McKernan (Down) for McGoldrick (53), D McCurry (Tyrone) for Poland (69), E McGee for McCluskey (77), E Donnelly (Fermanagh) for S Cavanagh (80).
Referee: E O’Grady (Leitrim).