Campbell's five-star show helps Ulster advance
Clearly not everyone cares. But some do.
Ulster 3-17 Munster 1-15
Munster's midfield pairing for this inter-provincial semi-final in Parnell Park was a 36-year-old Kerryman who may well have just played his last representative game and a Clare man who has just come off the back off a long and successful club hurling campaign with Ballyea.
Aidan O'Mahony and Gary Brennan could have chosen, in their respective circumstances, to make their excuses and remove themselves from the equation. But representation meant more to them than that.
"I made a phone call to Gary myself, no pressure and he said 'no I want to play.' We had a training session in Mallow on Monday night and six Clare players were there," said Munster manager Ger O'Sullivan.
At full-forward, and later at midfield, Tommy Walsh toiled away for 43 or so minutes and, having chosen to remove himself from the Kerry squad this summer, he too could have opted to keep the head down. But he too accepted the offer.
On the other side Tiernan McCann cut short a weekend with his girlfriend in London and had his father collect him at the airport to bring him to Donnycarney.
Of course these individual cases are submerged under the weight of slings and arrowed directed at the competition these days.
There might have been 150 in the stand yesterday but that's been the way for years now.
Ulster, traditionally the most active proponents, had no representatives from Donegal or Monaghan and manager Peter McGrath found himself defending that anomaly.
Donegal's 2012 All-Ireland winning substitute David Walsh got married this weekend and that may have taken a few away, he explained.
"Tony Scullion (selector) contacted them, they were unavailable," said McGrath. "At the end of the day I don't go on a witch hunt. The invitation is issued, if people are unwilling or unavailable, I leave it at that because there are other players who are willing."
Some Monaghan players had expressed interest but Colin Walshe and Karl O'Connell, two players McGrath specifically name-checked, were unavoidably diverted.
Those who did turn out delivered a very competitive spectacle. You can scoff at its high scoring nature over 60 minutes but when the shackles are off in an attacking game like this, the pace can be really high, especially when up to 11 substitutes are permitted. It doesn't relent.
Armagh's Stefan Campbell stood out for the quality of his five points off both feet from a variety of angles. On his day he is a most accomplished forward.
Peter Harte eased through the game and finished top scorer, converting a penalty late on after Tyrone colleague Mark Bradley was upended. But his points from play, were of a rich quality.
The reserves that an Ulster manager can dig into are inevitably deeper, a point acknowledged by Ger O'Sullivan afterwards.
"They have a better pick of higher quality players in Division One or Two. Some of our guys are coming from Division Four or Three."
Munster started well and Paul Whyte's free-taking had them 0-5 to 0-2 by the 16th minute but then Ulster took over and a well-worked goal saw Enda Lynn and Aidan Breen combine for the latter to bring parity.
Lynn deftly chipped Evan Comerford for a second goal as half-time approached, by which stage O'Mahony had left the action after being black-carded for a trip on Charlie Vernon.
By the break it was 2-9 to 0-6 in their favour but to Munster's credit they rallied and had closed the gap to three points at the three-quarter mark - Jamie Malone getting the goal and his Clare colleague David Tubridy's influence following his introduction really telling - while Waterford's Ian Corbett drove forward for two points.
But Ulster re-established control with Killian Clarke dominant at full-back and Eoin Donnelly providing firm roots at midfield to supplement the opportunism of Harte, Campbell and Tomas Corrigan.
Scorers - Ulster: P Harte 1-8 (1-0 pen, 0-4fs,) S Campbell 0-5, T Corrigan 0-4 (2fs), E Lynn, A Breen 1-0 each.
Munster: P Whyte 0-4 (4fs), J Malone 1-0, D Tubridy 0-3, I Corbett 0-2, K Sexton, T Walsh, B Fox, R Deane, G Brennan, C Sweeney (f) all 0-1 each.
Ulster: N Morgan; M Jones, K Clarke, D O'Hagan; T McCann, C Moynagh, A Breen; E Donelly, C Vernon; K Niblock, P Harte, E Lynn; C McAliskey, S Campbell, T Corrigan. Subs: M Bradley for McAliskey (37), R Johnston, N Sludden for Moynagh (42), T Kernan for Niblock (45), D McCusker for McCann (49), G McGovern for Jones (49), C Snow for Morgan (61).
Munster: E Comerford; K Hartnett, A Campbell, T O'Gorman; I Corbett, C Dorman, C O'Driscoll; G Brennan, A O'Mahony; J Malone, P Whyte, K O'Driscoll; E Cleary, T Walsh, C Sweeney. Subs: D Tubridy for Cleary (19), P Hurney for Sweeney (19), D Treacy for O'Mahony BC (28), B Fox for K O'Driscoll (29), K Sexton for Whyte (h-t), R Deane for Brennan (h-t), Brennan for Malone (39), K O'Driscoll for Walsh (43),Sweeney for Hurney (49), Whyte for Treacy (54), C Kenrick (Tipperary) for Comerford (59).
Referee: A Nolan (Wicklow).
Inter-pro Sf semi-final