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Eagle-eye Shefflin strikes gold for Leinster

LEINSTER 4-15 ; MUNSTER 3-17 A LAST-gasp point from a free by Kilkenny star Henry Shefflin earned Leinster their first victory in the Railway Cup hurling final since 1998, when they up-ended Munster at Nowlan Park yesterday.

And minutes after becoming the star of the show, Shefflin launched an appeal that the GAA work hard to guarantee the future of the Railway Cup series.

"This is a great competition for the players and it is a real pity that fans don't turn out for it," Shefflin insisted. Munster were hampered when star attacker Joe Deane and defender Diarmuid O'Sullivan both had to retire injured at half time.

Still, they forced the issue down to the wire and a 70th-minute goal from Pat O'Connell, who finished to the net after Andrew O'Shaughnessy brought a great save from stand-in keeper Stephen Byrne, levelled the match.

But seconds later, a foul on Kilkenny colleague Jimmy Coogan offered Shefflin the opportunity to decide the game, which he accepted graciously.

Three times during the opening 17 minutes the scores were level and, with Tommy Dunne flying at midfield, Munster began to gain the upper hand, although playing against the breeze.

A 27th-minute goal from Eoin McGrath put Munster 1-5 to 0-7 in front. They were pegged back slowly and a late goal from Brendan Murphy levelled the game just short of the break.

An injury-time point from Shefflin gave Leinster an interval lead of 1-10 to 1-9.

The flying Tommy Dunne equalised within minutes of the restart. However, the game looked to be heading Leinster's way when John Hoyne and Eddie Brennan both netted to put them 3-10 to 1-11 in front.

Munster battled back and twice subsequently they got the arrears back to the minimum. Leinster took off again and with time almost up they had a four-point advantage.

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An Eoin Kelly point, followed by O'Connell's goal, looked like pushing the game into extra time. But deep in injury time Shefflin decided the issue.

SCORERS Leinster: H Shefflin 0-7 (6f), E Brennan 1-3, C Keane, B Murphy 1-1 each, J Hoyne 1-0, J Coogan 0-2, D Lyng 0-1. Munster: T Dunne 0-7 (1f, '65), E McGrath 2-1, K McGrath 0-3 (1f), P O'Connell 1-0, J Deane 0-2 (fs), B O'Connor 0-1 (f), A O'Shaughnessy, E Kelly, T Griffin 0-1 each.

LEINSTER J McGarry; M Kavanagh, N Hickey, D O'Connor; R Mullally, JJ Delaney, L Ryan; D Lyng, A Comerford; J Hoyne, H Shefflin, C Keaney; J Coogan, E Brennan, B Murphy. Subs: S Byrne for McGarry; C Kehoe for O'Connor.

MUNSTER B Cummins; B Greene, D O'Sullivan, C Maher; D Hoey, E Corcoran, S Og O hAilpin; P Quelly, T Dunne; T Griffin, K McGrath, B O'Connor; E McGrath, B Begley, J Deane. Subs: D Reale for Greene; A O'Shaughnessy for Deane; O Moran for O'Sullivan; E Kelly for Begley; P O'Connell for Hoey.

REF G Devlin (Armagh).

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