Inter-pro football: three-in-a-row for Ulster
24 February 2013
Leinster's Ger Brennan and Kevin Niblock of Ulster during the Interprovincial Championship Final at Croke Park. INPHO
Ulster were crowned M Donnelly Inter-provincial football champions for the third year in sucession and a record 31st time in all thanks to a fine comeback victory over Leinster at Croke Park this afternoon.
Played before a sparse crowd, Leinster raced into an early 0-7 to 0-1 lead, but two goals from Jamie Clarke, including a first half penalty, and another from Conor McManus four minutes into the second half saw Joe Kernan's men prevail.
The winners finished with 14 men after Derry's Chrissy McKaigue was sent off on a second yellow card in the final minute of normal time.
Once again, Bernard Brogan was Leinster's chief-marksman after he finished with a personal tally of 0-11 (0-9 from frees), but Meath's Joe Sheridan was their most prominent attacker in the early stages, scoring 0-3 as the boys in green opened up a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 10 minutes.
Brogan helped to extend Leinster's advantage before the holders got the break they needed when Kevin Niblock was taken down for a penalty, and Crossmaglen star Clarke converted the spot-kick, despite Stephen Cluxton getting a hand to it.
Leinster still led by 0-9 to 1-4 at the break, but Ulster never looked back after Clarke set up McManus for Ulster's second goal in the 39th minute. Brogan restored parity, but they were made pay for failing to put Ulster away in the first half when Clarke bagged his second goal in the 53rd minute, which put five points between the sides.
Leinster went 39 minutes without scoring from play before Kevin McManamon fired over a superb long-range effort. Further points from Cluxton and Brogan left just two in it before McManus and Aaron Kernan sealed victory for the Northerners.
Ulster: P McConnell; C McKaigue, C McKeever, E McGee; A Kernan (0-1, f), D Hughes, P Harte (0-1); S Cavanagh (0-3, 3f), D Givney (0-1); M McHugh (0-1), M Penrose (0-1 f), Joe McMahon; J Clarke (2-1, one pen), K Niblock, C McManus (1-2). Subs: M Murphy (0-1) for Niblock (25), Justin McMahon for McKeever (HT), G McKiernan for Givney (HT), M Poland for Penrose (59), K Hughes for McHugh (65).
Leinster: S Cluxton (0-1, a 45); K Lillis, G Molloy, B Malone; M Quinn, G Brennan, A Flynn; MD MacAuley, J Heslin (0-1); B Connor, B Murphy, C O'Sullivan; B Brogan (0-11, 9f), J Sheridan (0-3), R Barry. Subs: P Keenan for Connor (HT), R O'Carroll for Lillis (41), K McManamon (0-1) for Barry (44), S McCormack for Sheridan (54), J Stafford for Murphy (61).
Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon).
Note to the GAA: Nobody cares about this pointless, useless competition. It ceased being relevant decades ago. There are bigger crowds at all of the pre-season competitions in the middle of January. Please scrap it immediately.
Why scrap it? It doesn't take away from anything else. The players obviously want to be there and fight for medals. It must be a great honour for worthy players from peripheral counties in particular. The skills on show are lovely to watch.
I accept that people don't go to see it, but so what? Sorry it annoys you, but no one is forcing you to pay attention. I like it. Please don't scrap it