Leinster ease their way into M Donnelly final

Offaly's David Franks led the scoring as Leinster eased their way into the M Donnelly Interprovincial hurling final last night, taking a 2-19 to 0-12 victory over Ulster.

Leinster 2-19 Ulster 0-12, Parnell Park

Offaly's David Franks led the scoring as Leinster eased their way into the M Donnelly Interprovincial hurling final last night, taking a 2-19 to 0-12 victory over Ulster.

Franks, a noted defender but lining out wing forward at Parnell Park, shot over six frees with his county team-mate Joe Bergin and Kilkenny's Aidan Fogarty sharing out Leinster's goals.

All-Ireland winner Richie Power teed up Bergin's fourth-minute strike, and Leinster led 1-08 to 0-06 at the interval. Fogarty's goal, after a neat free-in from John Tennyson, killed off the tie.

Ulster tried gamely but had only Antrim's Johnny McIntosh (0-10) and Derry duo Sean McBride and Ruairi Convery on the scoresheet.

Last year's beaten finalists got off to the ideal start when a searing run through the middle by Power allowed corner forward Bergin enough space to whack home past Graham Clarke for a 1-01 to 0-01 lead.

McIntosh lessened the blow with successive frees but Ulster's lack of firepower was killing them. Clarke was called upon to make a double save to deny Kilkenny's Eddie Brennan on 21 minutes as Leinster upped the tempo.

Four points on the trot from Franks (both frees) and Power, with two sizzling scores from play, saw John Conran's men go five points clear by half-time.

McIntosh did manage two points from play, early in the second half, yet those scores were swamped by five from Leinster.

And corner forward Fogarty's goal followed when he hooked the ball beyond the grasp of Clarke after Tennyson's pin-point delivery in.

With time running out, the visitors ran out of ideas and points from Wexford man Rory McCarthy and former Dublin minor skipper John McCaffrey, who came on off the bench, saw Leinster add a degree of comfort to their win.

Reigning champions Munster, who beat Leinster 1-21 to 2-14 in the decider in Boston twelve months ago, take on Connacht at Cusack Park, Ennis in today's other semi-final.

The 2006 Interpro final will take place at Pearse Stadium in Salthill (throw-in 5.15pm) on Saturday, October 28.

Leinster: J McGarry; M Travers, J Tennyson, J Ryall; T Walsh, R Hanniffy, Diarmuid Lyng (0-01); Derek Lyng, R McCarthy (0-03); E Brennan (0-01); G Hanniffy, D Franks (0-06 (0-06f)); J Bergin (1-00), R Power (0-04 (0-02f)), A Fogarty (1-02).

Subs used: E Quigley for Diarmuid Lyng (46 mins), J McCaffrey (0-02) for Bergin (50), D McCormack for Hanniffy, R Mullally for Travers (both 55).

Ulster: G Clarke; A Bell, G Bell, M Conway; M Molloy, L Hinphey, G Clarke; A Savage, B McGourty; K Stewart, P Braniff, R Convery; J McIntosh (0-10 (0-05f)), G Savage (0-01), D Cullen.

Subs used: S McBride (0-01) for Braniff (5 mins), P McCormack for Bell (22), S Clarke for G Savage (half-time), K Kelly for Conway (39), D Coulter for Cullen (48).

Referee: Michael Haverty (Galway)

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