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Tobin suggests September switch as Connacht end 45-year title wait

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Aidan O'Shea, Connacht, in action against Michael Murphy, Ulster

Aidan O'Shea, Connacht, in action against Michael Murphy, Ulster

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Kevin McLoughlin, Connacht,  is congratulatd after the game by Mark McHugh, Ulster

Kevin McLoughlin, Connacht, is congratulatd after the game by Mark McHugh, Ulster

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An umpire tries to retrieve a ball caught on the top of the net.

An umpire tries to retrieve a ball caught on the top of the net.

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Aidan O'Shea, Connacht, in action against Michael Murphy, Ulster

Victorious Connacht manager John Tobin believes that a September billing might be the best way to save the inter-pro competitions.

But for now he and Connacht are just relieved to have finally ended a 45-year wait for the title after they emphatically dethroned champions Ulster at Tuam Stadium yesterday.

The westerners held Ulster to an interval lead of two points after the holders had played with the strong wind and then Aidan O'Shea and his men pulled away after the restart.

"It was a big challenge and it was a long time since we won, so the lads are thrilled with it. The quality of football was outstanding again from both teams," said Tobin.

"Playing it at this particular time is very hard on players and is very hard on inter-county managements.

"I think it should be played in the first week in September. I think the hurling and the football can be played together, as all the club competitions are over, all the county competitions are over and there would be a fantastic festival of hurling and football if it were to be played in the one location."

Connacht led by 0-4 to 0-2 after 19 minutes before Ulster rallied with a couple of frees from Conor McManus and an effort from Sean Cavanagh. Then Colm Cavanagh finished to the net after Michael Murphy had been denied by Robbie Hennelly, but the Mayo goalkeeper responded by going upfield and kicking a '45' and a free to leave it 1-5 to 0-6 at the break.

His counterpart, Tyrone's Niall Morgan, also got in on the scoring act after the restart when he pointed a free but the champions only managed one more score after that.

Connacht never looked back once Michael Conroy got a goal after 38 minutes and they sealed it when Sligo's David Kelly, looking sharp following his injury troubles last year, fisted home a goal.

Ulster manager Joe Kernan had no complaints about the outcome and he hopes that GAA president-elect Aogán Ó Fearghail will safeguard the competition's future.

"I hope the GAA give it its proper chance to succeed. If it does it would be great to have it back, having the best players in each province and what better can you ask for," said Kernan.

Scorers – Connacht: M Conroy, D Kelly 1-1 each, R Hennelly 0-3 (2fs, 1 '45'), C Cregg, S Armstrong 0-3 each, K McLoughlin (1f), K Higgins 0-2 each, N Daly, A O'Shea, E Mulligan, P Conroy 0-1 each. Ulster: C Cavanagh 1-0, C McManus 0-3fs, N Morgan, S Cavanagh, M Murphy (f), M Poland 0-1 each.

Connacht – R Hennelly (Mayo); S McDermott (Roscommon), J Moore (Galway), K Higgins (Mayo); G Bradshaw (Galway), N Daly (Roscommon), K McLoughlin (Mayo); A O'Shea (Mayo), J Gibbons (Mayo); S Armstrong (Galway), E Mulligan (Leitrim), C Cregg (Roscommon); M Conroy (Mayo), P Conroy (Galway), D Kelly (Sligo). Subs: T Flynn (Galway) for O'Shea (8), O'Shea for Flynn (11); D Cummins (Galway) for Kelly (47), Kelly for Cummins (55); M Brehony (Sligo) for Kelly (65); E Concannon (Galway) for M Conroy (65); G Reynolds (Leitrim) for Bradshaw (65); N Ewing (Sligo) for McDermott (67).

Ulster – N Morgan (Tyrone); E McGee (Donegal), N McGee (Donegal), C Clarke (Tyrone); S L McGoldrick (Derry), R McCluskey (Fermanagh), P Harte (Tyrone); S Cavanagh (Tyrone), E Donnelly (Fermanagh); C Mackey (Cavan), M Poland (Down), C Cavanagh (Tyrone); E Keating (Cavan), M Murphy (Donegal), C McManus (Monaghan). Subs: K Hughes (Monaghan) for Keating (12); M McHugh (Donegal) for Mackey (30); C McKaigue (Derry) for McCluskey (BC, 44); D Gibney (Cavan) for Donnelly (46); K McKernan (Down) for Cavanagh (52).

Ref – D O'Mahoney (Tipperary)

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