Westmeath attacker Dessie Dolan produced an exquisite display of finishing, kicking 11 points as Leinster collected their 27th Railway Cup football title tonight and drew level with Ulster in the inter-provincial roll of honour.

A crowd of 5,824 witnessed Leinster win 0-20 to 0-18 after extra-time in a Parnell Park thriller which has given the ailing competition a huge boost.

Val Andrews' charges displayed passion and commitment in holding off the determined challenge of the Northerners, and fully deserved to reverse the result of last year's M Donnelly decider, played in Paris.

This time it was the floodlights of north Dublin which replaced the sparkling illuminations of the French capital, and it was the Leinster men who shone the brightest.

Ulster made a lively and creative start, easing ahead with scores from Steven McDonnell, Paddy Bradley and Dick Clerkin, and with the Leinster attack looking strangely sluggish, it was left to Padraig Clancy to keep them in touch, with two points.

His second score, in truth, should have been a goal, fisted over the bar with the net gaping after he was sent clear by Laois team-mate Noel Garvan.

The Northerners led by 0-4 to 0-2 after 12 minutes, but Clancy's move to midfield and Dessie Dolan's spectacular emergence as a potent attacking force contrived to spark their challenge.

Dolan hammered over five quality scores, and substitute Mattie Forde knocked over a couple as Leinster forged ahead.

Michael Ennis and Tom Kelly were solid in the Leinster full-back line, and Ulster were in alarming decline, Bradley missing a couple of straightforward frees.

While Aaron Kernan and Toye did pull back points, they were on the wrong side of a 0-11 to 0-7 scoreline at the break.

The holders made a promising start to the second half with scores from McDonnell and Toye, whose zipping shot was fingertipped just clear of the bar by a diving Fergal Byron.

And with Aidan O'Rourke coming in to bolster a shaky defence, they succeeded in stifling a fast-moving Leinster attack.

Ronan Clarke also made a big impact when sprung from the bench, setting up scores for Armagh colleagues McDonnell and Kernan as the deficit shrunk to a single point midway through the half.

McDonnell's fourth score, from a long range free, brought the sides level on 0-12 each.

Ulster were clinging on by a point when Graham Geraghty sent Jason Sherlock through on goal, but his effort was superbly kept out by James Reilly.

Enter John Doyle, the Kildare man coming off the bench to kick two precious points, one of them from a free, but Toye swept over a long range effort to tie it up at 0-15 each and send the game into extra-time.

Dolan added two more to his mounting tally as Leinster turned around with a 0-18 to 0-17 lead midway through extra-time, and sealed a wonderful individual display with a gem which sealed it.

Leinster: F Byron; M Ennis, T Kelly, D Healy, B Cahill, C Moran, P Andrews; T Walsh, N Garvan 0-1; A Mangan 0-1, R Munnelly, P Clancy 0-2; D Dolan 0-11 (7f), G Geraghty, J Sherlock.

Subs: M Forde 0-3 (for Walsh 17 mins), J Doyle 0-2 (1f) (for Munnelly 42 mins), B Sheehan (for Mangan 57 mins), S Ryan (for Garvan 63 mins), Garvan (for Sherlock 80 mins), D Regan (for Forde 87 mins).

Ulster: J Reilly; K McGuckin, K McCloy, E McNulty; A Kernan 0-2, C Gormley, A Mallon; D Gordon, S Cavanagh; B Dooher 0-1, C Toye 0-4, D Clerkin 0-1; T Freeman 0-1, P Bradley 0-2, S McDonnell 0-6 (4f).

Subs: A O'Rourke (for McCloy 27 mins), R Clarke 0-1 (for Clerkin (43 mins) D Diver (for Gormley 47 mins), R Mellon (for Bradley 65 mins), P Hearty (for Reilly 70 mins), Bradley (for Clarke 80 mins), C Holmes (for Bradley 89 mins).

Referee: P Russell (Tipperary).