Late Murphy goal seals final berth for Connacht
Connacht booked their place in the inter-provincial football final with a deserved two-point win over Leinster in front of about 200 fans at a chilly Parnell Park on Saturday, but yet again, the future of this once prestigious competition seems very bleak.
Connacht 2-17 Leinster 1-18
Connacht started well with a point apiece from their full forward line - Niall Murphy, Danny Cummins and Damien Comer.
Leinster's John Heslin, got his side on the scoreboard with a converted free in the fifth minute before scoring three more. Fellow Westmeath man Kieran Martin pointed in the 20th minute to leave his side trailing by two points (0-7 to 0-5) but the westerners pounced for a fine goal just two minutes later when Fintan Cregg teed up Ciaran Murtagh who made no mistake from close range.
Points from Darragh Foley and John McGrath left a goal between the sides but John Tobin's charges added three late points to lead by six at the break (1-10 to 0-7).
Fine midfield play by John O'Loughlin and John Heslin's accuracy from frees kept Leinster in touch on the change of ends, and when Neil Flynn availed of a poor kick out by David Clarke to set up Kieran Martin for a slapped goal in the 43rd minute, Connacht led by the bare minimum (1-12 to 1-11).
A point from play by Heslin put Leinster in front for the first time in the 53rd minute but two sumptuous points quickly nudged Connacht back in front.
With just a minute remaining, a slick move by Connacht ended with Sligo's Niall Murphy rolling the ball to the net for what proved the decisive goal. Johnny Byrne reduced the gap to three points right on the hour, but Niall Daly slotted over an insurance point at the other end. Heslin tapped over a free deep in injury-time but Connacht weren't to be denied.
Scorers - Connacht: N Murphy 1-3, J Doherty 0-6 (4f), C Murtagh 1-1, D Cummins 0-3, N Daly, E Smith, F Cregg, D Comer 0-1 each.
Leinster: J Heslin 0-10 (8f), K Martin 1-1, S O'Rourke, J Byrne, D Foley, J McGrath, P Sharry, D Byrne, J O'Loughlin 0-1 each.
Connacht- D Clarke; K McDonnell, N McInerney, D Wynne; N Daly, G O'Donnell, J Heaney; E Smith, K Higgins; F Cregg, C Murtagh, J Doherty; N Murphy, D Comer, D Cummins. Subs: S Mullooly for Heaney (22); C O'Shea for Smith (22); D Murtagh for Murphy (26); E Mulligan for C Murtagh (HT); A Varley for Comer (36); E Smith for O'Shea (41); N Murphy for D Murtagh (43); J Heaney for McInerney (50); D Wrynn for Wynne (52); J McManus for Higgins (52); C Murtagh for Mulligan (55).
Leinster - A Mulhall; D Daly, K Meaney, P Rath; J Dolan, J Small, D Healy; J O'Loughlin, D Foley; J McGrath, P Sharry, K Martin; N Dunne, J Heslin, N Flynn. Subs: J Byrne for Foley (HT); D Byrne for Healy (HT); D Kingston for Dunne (HT); D St Ledger for Meaney (HT); G Guilfoyle for McGrath (HT); B Malone for Rath (HT); S O'Rourke for Flynn (43); P Cunningham for Martin (45); P Collum for Mulhall (51); P Rath for Dolan (59).
REF - N Mooney (Cavan).