Connacht 2-19 Ulster 1-07

Updated: Sunday, 23 Feb 2014 23:03 | Comments

Connacht bridged a 45-year gap in winning their interpro title
Connacht bridged a 45-year gap in winning their interpro title


Underdogs Connacht caused a surprise winning the M Donnelly GAA Football Interprovincial Championship Final at Tuam Stadium.

Colm Cavanagh's 33rd minute goal ensured Joe Kernan's Ulster side were 1-05 to 0-06 in front at the end of a lively opening period.

But Connacht responded in the third quarter scoring 1-06 without reply including a delightful Michael Conroy goal.

Inspired by some excellent long range points from Kevin McLoughlin, Keith Higgins, Paul Conroy, and Sean Armstrong Connacht held out for a satisfying success as David Kelly palmed an insurance 65th minute goal.

Despite playing into the teeth of a strong breeze Connacht settled quickly and led by 0-04 to 0-02 at the end of the first quarter.

Captain Aidan O'Shea was impressive at centrefield as wing forwards Cathal Cregg and Sean Armstrong craved involvement.
Connact's ability to break quickly from defence was a feature of the early stages as Niall Daly and Keith Higgins nailed scores following smart runs from deep.

Ulster improved significantly, though, as the half evolved and they took maximum advantage of some curious frees they were given.
Sean Cavanagh and Conor McManus both steered over frees as the teams were deadlocked by the 21st minute.

Then McManus kicked another free as Ulster edged ahead before they pocketed a 33rd minute goal.

Substitute Mark McHugh's delivery caused panic in the Connacht defence and while Michael Murphy's initial shot was saved by Robert Hennelly Colm Cavanagh slotted the rebound home.

Connacht did reply as goalkeeper Hennelly kicked a 45 and a free as the interval deficit was trimmed to 1-05 to 0-06.

Niall Morgan landed a free for Ulster, but then Connacht seized control hitting 1-06 without reply.

Cregg struck a splendid point and Michael Conroy dashed through for a 48th minute goal.

John Tobin's charges were performing well as a flurry of scores from distance followed with wing back Kevin McLoughlin influential.

Ulster only managed to register two points in the second half and a 65th minute goal from David Kelly sealed an emphatic victory for Connacht, who claimed their first title at this level since 1969.

Connacht: R Hennelly (0-03, 145, 2fs); K Higgins (0-02), J Moore, S McDermott; G Bradshaw, N Daly (0-01), K McLoughlin (0-03, 1f), A O'Shea (0-01), J Gibbons; C Cregg (0-03), E Mulligan (0-01), S Armstrong (0-03); M Conroy (1-01), P Conroy (0-01), D Kelly (1-01).

Subs: M Breheny for Kelly (66 mins), E Concannon for Conroy (66 mins), G Reynolds for Bradshaw (66 mins), N Ewing for McDermott (68 mins).

Ulster: N Morgan (0-01, f); E McGee, N McGee, C Clarke; S McGoldrick, R McCluskey, P Harte; S Cavanagh (0-01, f), E Donnelly; C Mackey, M Poland (0-01), C Cavanagh (1-00); E Keating, M Murphy (0-01, f), C McManus (0-03, 3fs).

Subs: K Hughes for Keating (13 mins), M McHugh for Mackey (26 mins), C McKaigue for McCluskey (42 mins), D Givney for Donnelly (43 mins), K McKernan for C Cavanagh (50 mins).

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