Sheedy hails star quality as Munster regain crown
Munster captured the title for the first time since 2007 with a well-deserved win over Connacht at Cusack Park.
Played in front of a paltry attendance, this was an entertaining and competitive tie, though Connacht – consisting entirely of Galway players – tired in the second half and a sharper Munster ran out 10-point winners, hitting some fine scores as the contest wore on.
Munster manager Liam Sheedy said afterwards: "We are blessed with talent in Munster, we have some fabulous players, very committed and in great shape, loving their hurling and they really played well today. I'm absolutely delighted."
The Munster men played against the breeze in the opening half and it was Connacht who opened the scoring, Joe Canning landing a 45-metre free inside the second minute.
The sides then traded points before the game's turning point arrived in the 26th minute as full-forward Paudie O'Sullivan drove to the Connacht net to leave Munster 1-7 to 0-5 ahead.
Graeme Mulcahy and O'Sullivan found themselves in a two-on-one situation and after Mulcahy hand-passed over the head of the defender, the Cork man fired home from close range.
At half-time Sheedy's charges led by 1-11 to 0-9 and, with Patrick Horgan's free-taking skills to the fore, Munster forged further ahead in impressive fashion, though they also had goalkeeper Anthony Nash to thank as he denied Tadhg Haran and Davy Glennon goal chances.
By the 39th minute, Munster had increased their lead to eight, with good scores by Horgan (2) and Graeme Mulcahy cementing their dominance.
The men from the west appeared to tire as the game progressed and of the paltry six points they managed after the break, two were scored rather late in the game.
David Collins converted a '65' and the final score of the contest was slotted by impressive substitute Joseph Cooney, who was introduced early in the second half.
Scorers – Munster: P Horgan 0-9 (7f), P O'Sullivan 1-2, G Mulcahy, P Cronin, S Dowling (1f) 0-3 each, A Nash (f), S O'Sullivan 0-1 each. Connacht: J Canning 0-6 (3f, 1 '65'), N Healy 0-3, D Collins 0-2 (1 '65'), D Glennon, T Haran, C Donnellan, J Cooney (0-1) each
Munster – A Nash (Cork); S O'Neill (Cork), T Condon (Limerick), S Daniels (Waterford); B Bugler (Clare), M Walsh (Waterford), W McNamara (Limerick); S O'Sullivan (Waterford), B Maher (Tipperary); S Dowling (Limerick), L Corbett (Tipperary), P Cronin (Cork); G Mulcahy (Limerick), P O'Sullivan (Cork), P Horgan (Cork). Subs: E Kelly (Tipperary) for Cronin (59), T Kenny (Cork) for O'Sullivan (63), Patrick Maher (Tipperary) for Dowling), C Ryan (Clare) for Corbett (65), G O'Mahony (Limerick) for McNamara (65)
Connacht (All Galway) – C Callanan; J Coen, K Hynes, P Killeen; B Flaherty, D Collins, N Donoghue; I Tannian, A Smith; P Brehony, N Burke, C Donnellan; N Healy, J Canning, T Haran. Subs: D Glennon for Brehony (26), J Glynn for Burke (28), J Cooney for Killeen (41), D Hayes for Haran (46), A Hart for Smith (55)
Ref – A Stapleton (Laois)