Monday 23 September 2019

Play inter-pros on All-Ireland final weekend - McGrath

Ulster’s Stefan Campbell, Charlie Vernon and Tony Kiernan after their victory over Connacht in Carrick-on-Shannon. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Ulster’s Stefan Campbell, Charlie Vernon and Tony Kiernan after their victory over Connacht in Carrick-on-Shannon. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Ulster manger Pete McGrath thinks that new life could be injected into the inter-provincial championship if it piggy-backed on the All-Ireland football final weekend.

Ulster 2-16 Connacht 3-10

Speaking after his side powered to victory over Connacht in Carrick-on-Shannon with a storming second half, McGrath called for the competition to be played over two days in Dublin as GAA supporters from around the country descend on the capital.

Ulster manager Pete McGrath. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Ulster manager Pete McGrath. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Goals from Aiden Breen and Charlie Vernon were the crucial scores for Ulster, who had conceded three goals before half-time to a slick Connacht outfit.

But only an estimated 500 spectators showed up to watch the decider in Carrick-on-Shannon, but McGrath suggested the competition has a future if its scheduling is rethought.

"It probably is (a bad time of the year). If it could be played some time, we are talking about maybe All-Ireland weekend, there is no club activity on that weekend," said McGrath.

"You wouldn't have the All-Ireland finalists, needless to say, but you would have all the other top inter-county players.

Enda Smith of Connacht in action against Niall Sludden of Ulster. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Enda Smith of Connacht in action against Niall Sludden of Ulster. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

"Play the semi-finals in Parnell Park on a Friday and the final on the Saturday.

"You have a captivated audience, and players at that time of the year are in great shape. Because if they are out of the inter-county their club season is still going on. You would still have that enthusiasm and that's a possibility well worth looking at."

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Vernon and Breen were the goalscorers for Ulster, but they also weighted in with some excellent points at key moments.

Breen's goal after 18 minutes was a vital score for Ulster, considering that Connacht had started so brightly and it looked likely that they would emerge as winners.

Charlie Vernon of Ulster scores his side's second despite the attention of Enda Smith. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Charlie Vernon of Ulster scores his side's second despite the attention of Enda Smith. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

They benefited from some loose defensive work from Ulster in the eighth and 11th minutes as Niall Murphy sent Ciaran Murtagh in for two goals, while a third major from Damien Comer in the minutes approaching half-time ensured that Connacht led by 3-6 to 1-10 at the interval.

"We were very porous in the first ten or 15 minutes. Every time Connacht attacked they opened us up," said McGrath.

In the end Ulster were so strong in the second half - despite Chrissy McKaigue's black card 70 seconds after his introduction - it was a surprise that they didn't win by a bigger margin, but a 32nd inter-pro title was fully deserved.

Scorers - Ulster: P Harte 0-5 (4f), A Breen 1-2, T Corrigan 0-4 (2f), C Vernon 1-1, E Lynn 0-3, S Campbell 0-1. Connacht: C Murtagh 2-3, D Comer 1-1, J Doherty 0-2 (2f), E Smith, D Cummins, E Mulligan (1f), P Conroy 0-1(1f).

Ulster - N Morgan (Tyrone); M Jones (Fermanagh), K Clarke (Cavan), D O'Hagan (Down); T McCann (Tyrone), C Moynagh (Cavan), A Breen (Fermanagh); E Donnelly (Fermanagh), C Vernon (Armagh); K Niblock (Antrim), P Harte (Tyrone), E Lynn (Derry); N Sludden (Tyrone), S Campbell (Armagh), T Corrigan (Fermanagh). Subs: R Johnston (Down) for Niblock (28), C McKaigue (Derry) for Moynagh (h-t), B Rogers (Derry) for McKaigue (32), D McCusker (Fermanagh) for Clarke (38), M Donnelly (Tyrone) for Campbell (44), T Kernan (Armagh) for Vernon (55), N McKeever for Lynn (58).

Connacht - D Clarke (Mayo); K McDonnell (Sligo), J Duane (Galway), D Wynne (Galway); N Daly (Roscommon), G O'Donnell (Galway), J Heaney (Galway); E Smith (Roscommon), K Higgins (Roscommon); F Cregg (Roscommon), D Cummins (Galway), C Murtagh (Roscommon); N Murphy (Sligo), D Comer (Galway), J Doherty (Mayo).

Subs: P Conroy (Galway) for Cummins (10), D Wrynn (Leitrim) for Higgins (44), G Bradshaw (Galway) for Doherty (49), E Mulligan (Leitrim) for Conroy (51), J McManus (Roscommon) for McDonnell (53), D Murtagh (Roscommon) for Murphy (57), C O'Shea (Mayo) for Smith (59).

ReF - P O'Sullivan (Kerry)

 

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