Interprovincial championship losing battle for relevance

Munster 3-21 Ulster 0-15: Anthony Daly conceded that the inter-provincial series is not capturing the public’s imagination as an estimated crowd of 100 people turned up at Semple Stadium for Munster’s facile victory over Ulster yesterday.

Following on from another dismal attendance for the Connacht-Leinster semi-final on Saturday, any hope of a boost for the ailing format was not forthcoming over the weekend.

That’s a pity as there was plenty of top talent on view across both games but Munster manager Daly re-iterated his view that it might be time to take the competition abroad, while also revealing that his preparations took a hit when the Ulster semi-final was moved from Saturday to Sunday. Waterford pair Pauric Mahony and Austin Gleeson picked up knocks in a challenge with Offaly while Munster selector Tommy Dunne and Tipp’s Pádraic Maher were both in a race against time to make the fixture, with both men involved with their respective clubs in the county U21A final between Toomevara and Thurles Sarsfields.

Daly said: “It wouldn’t have been too bad but the postponement messed it up a bit on us. We had the weekend free and agreed with all the county managers that lads would be free. Then when there was no match on Saturday, I came down to watch Leinster and Connacht yesterday and Clare were training in UL, the three Clare lads flat out training, the two Waterford lads (Mahony and Gleeson) picked up knocks playing a challenge match against Offaly, Limerick then had a weekend away but the boys weren’t going with them, they went up and played Dublin.”

Seamus Callanan, captain for the day, and Tipp team-mate Mikey Breen combined for 2-8 as Munster ran out convincing 15-point winners.

Late on, the Bennett brothers played a one-two for Munster’s third goal, Stephen on target from Shane’s pass.

At half-time, Munster were 1-10 to 0-7 clear, Breen with the goal, and Daly’s men outscored their opponents by 2-11 to 0-8 in the second half.

Deflated Ulster boss Terence ‘Sambo’ McNaughton reflected: “If you asked the players, they feel there’s life in it but obviously the crowd doesn’t — and the fact that it’s on before Christmas, counties are only going back and some of them are not even back.”

Scorers for Munster:

S Callanan 1-7 (0-6f), M Breen 1-1, B Nash 0-4, Stephen Bennett 1-0, J O’Dwyer 0-2, D Byrnes, T Murnane, S Dowling, P Maher, D Reidy, Shane Bennett & D McCormack 0-1 each.

Scorers for Ulster:

C Clarke 0-7 (6f), C Corvan 0-3, C O’Prey 0-2 (1f), D Cullen, N McKenna & C Woods 0-1 each.

MUNSTER:

A Nash (Cork); B Coughlan (Waterford), J Barry (Tipperary), N Connors (Waterford); D Byrnes (Limerick), C Dillon (Clare), S Fives (Waterford); M Breen (Tipperary), J Barron (Waterford); S Dowling (Limerick), Shane Bennett (Waterford), D McCormack (Tipperary); J O’Dwyer (Tipperary), S Callanan (Tipperary), D Reidy (Clare).

Subs:

A Shanagher (Clare) for Dowling (25), B Nash (Limerick) for Shane Bennett (25), Tom Murnane (Kerry) for Barron (h.t.), P Maher (Tipperary) for Fives (h.t.), Stephen Bennett (Waterford) for McCormack (h.t.), Dowling for O’Dwyer (45), Shane Bennett for Reidy (45), McCormack for Breen (51), Fives for Coughlan (55), Barron for Dillon (55).

ULSTER:

S Keith (Down); S McCrory (Antrim), P Burke (Antrim), J McManus (Down); N McAuley (Antrim), C Woods (Down), C Taggart (Down); E Campbell (Antrim), Ciarán Johnston (Antrim); C Corvan (Armagh), N McKenna (Antrim), D Toner (Down); Conor Johnston (Antrim), J Dillon (Antrim), C Clarke (Antrim).

Subs:

C O’Prey (Down) for Ciarán Johnston (26), D Cullen (Donegal) for Toner (33), J Corvan (Armagh) for Taggart (46), A Grant (Derry) for C Corvan (47), P Henry (Derry) for Conor Johnston (49), C O’Connell (Antrim) for Keith (52), C Devlin (Armagh) for Dillon (52), S Renaghan (Armagh) for Cullen (55), Ciarán Johnston for J McManus (56).

Referee:

S Cleere (Kilkenny)


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