Connacht finally on the edge of glory

CONNACHT yesterday played themselves into a strong position to win the Men’s Interprovincial Championship for the first time since 1983 when they pipped Munster in a cliff hanger at Rosses Point.

Captained by Adrian Wynne of Strandhill and benefiting from the local knowledge of several members of their squad, they remain the only unbeaten side and now meet Leinster today knowing victory will give them the title for only the second time since the series began in 1939.

Having tied with Ulster on Tuesday, Connacht looked to be in big trouble when losing yesterday’s foursomes by 3-1 against Munster.

However, there was a complete change in fortunes in the afternoon singles. Eddie McCormack got Connacht off to a perfect start by beating 2009 Irish champion Pat Murray on the 14th only for Niall Gorey, the Muskerry man who has enjoyed a successful tournament so far with 3 ½ points to his credit, to restore Munster’s promising position with a home green defeat of Michael Durcan.

After that, however, Connacht enjoyed a spell of considerable supremacy with local members Gary McDermott and Steffan O’Hara and NUI Maynooth student Kelan McDonagh all winning to edge them in front by 5 matches to 4.

The excellent Ian O’Rourke, who, like Gorey, remains unbeaten from his four matches so far, levelled matters for Munster with a splendid win in the last match over Barry Anderson before the experienced Joe Lyons, the West of Ireland champion here in 2007, claimed the decisive sixth point for the home side.

Ulster, who had been held to a draw by Connacht on day one, went down to Leinster in a very tight finish. Leinster held a single point advantage after the morning foursomes but Ulster fought back strongly in the afternoon only to miss out by the smallest possible margin when Nicky Grant was held to a halved match by Kilkenny’s Craig Martin after Eoin Arthurs, Paul Dunne and Rory McNamara had all won for Leinster.

Things didn’t get a whole lot better for Ulster when their boys side was beaten 6-4 by Leinster.

Munster’s Gary Hurley and Eoin Harris won their foursome against Sean Flanagan and Alex Gleeson on the 17th before Hurley went on to beat Flanagan by 4 and 3 in their singles encounter. However, at 2-1 down after the foursomes they needed to redress the imbalance in the afternoon.

Hurley set the example and was supported by Jack Leacy, but they had to settle for a share of the honours.

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