Ulster make it 3 in a row

February 24th, 2013

darren-hughes-inter-pro-final-2013M. Donnelly Interprovincial Football Final:
Ulster 3-12 Leinster 0-17

Ulster secured a third successive M. Donnelly Interprovincial title following a four-point win over Leinster at Croke Park today.

Despite trailing by six points after just 18 minutes, Joe Kernan’s side fought back with the help of a Jamie Clarke penalty to reduce the gap to two points at the break, 1-4 to 0-9.

Armagh forward Clarke then added a second after the break while Monaghan’s in-form captain Conor McManus also struck for a goal as the Ulster men sealed a fine win despite the loss of Chrissy McKaigue to a second yellow card a minute from the end.

Bernard Brogan, who was seeking to emulate his father by winning a first interprovincial medal, was the game’s top scorer, the Dublin forward hitting a handsome 0-11 (0-9f), while Meath’s Joe Sheridan chipped in with three points from play for Leinster.

That pair were to the fore, scoring five points from play between them, as Pat Gilroy’s side raced into a big lead in the opening quarter, which might have been even greater had goalkeeper Pascal McConnell not denied Brogan with a smart stop.

Ulster were handed a lifeline when Kevin Niblock was fouled and Clarke netted from the resultant penalty, while the introduction of Donegal’s Michael Murphy, fresh from his Sigerson disappointment with DCU, helped to further invigorate the reigning champions’ attack.

Trailing by two at the break, Ulster were ahead soon after the restart when McManus goaled after a pass from Clarke. Then, on 53 minutes, Clarke netted his second to give Ulster a healthy lead.

Mark McHugh and Seán Cavanagh increased Ulster’s lead while Stephen Cluxton and Brogan hit back for Leinster. However, not even the late dismissal of McKaigue would deny Ulster a third interprovincial title in a row.

Ulster Scorers: J Clarke 2-1 (1-0 pen), C McManus 1-2, S Cavanagh 0-3 (0-3f), A Kernan 0-1 (0-1f), M Penrose 0-1 (0-1f), M Murphy 0-1, P Harte 0-1, D Gibney 0-1, M McHugh 0-1.

Leinster Scorers: B Brogan 0-11 (0-9f), S Cluxton 0-1 (0-1 ’45), J Heslin 0-1, J Sheridan 0-3, K McManamon 0-1.

Ulster: P McConnell; C McKaigue, C McKeever, E McGee; A Kernan, D Hughes, P Hare; S Cavanagh, D Givney; M McHugh, M Penrose, Joe McMahon; J Clarke, K Niblock, C McManus. Subs: M Murphy for Niblock (25’), Justin McMahon for McKeever (HT), G McKiernan for Givney (HT), M Poland for Penrose (59’), K Hughes for McHugh (65’).

Leinster: S Cluxton; K Lillis, G Molloy, B Malone; M Quinn, G Brennan, A Flynn; MD MacAuley, J Heslin; B Connor, B Murphy, C O’Sullivan; B Brogan, J Sheridan, R Barry. Subs: P Keenan for Connor (HT), R O’Carroll for Lillis, K McManamon for Barry (44’), S McCormack for Sheridan (54’), J Stafford for Murphy (61’).

Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)