Munster 2-20 -
Waterford’s Noel Connors getting his handpass away for Munster during his side’s Interprovincial Senior Hurling Championship Final win over Leinster in Semple Stadium, Thurles on Thursday night. Photo: Inpho.
The jury is still out on the question of continuing with the Interprovincial competitions in hurling and football following the playing of the semi-finals and finals over the past week. No longer known as ‘The Railway Cup’ the competition will always be remembered as such, stirring nostalgic memories in an older generation of great St. Patricks Day occasions in Croke Park where the cream of the country’s hurlers and footballers took part in serious combat before crowds of over 50,000. Those were the days of straightforward knockout championships when selection on a provincial team was the definition of a player’s standing and the winning of that beautiful Railway Cup medal was, for players for whom the winning of an All Ireland remained a dream, the greatest achievement they could aspire to.
Now, with Club Finals on St. Patricks Day, tight Allianz League schedules in hurling and football and the qualifying rounds introduced for the All Ireland championships, the Interpro competitions, ailing attendance wise since the early sixties, have been pushed down the pecking order of importance with All Star Awards the measure of a player’s competence and the public appetite for top class competitive fare well catered for.
The playing of the games in December was never going to pull in the crowds and certainly not for the final in Semple Stadium in midweek under lights where 592 hardy customers turned out last Thursday for a game that was keenly contested between two well represented teams from Munster and Leinster. What did emerge on the night, and from the football semi – finals and finals, that players are still keen to represent their province and while it may be seen as part of another social occasion after the All Stars on which they can get together they do not leave anything in the dressing room when they step out onto the pitch.
In his article in yesterday’s Examiner former Tipperary football All Star and intercounty hurler Declan Browne echoed those sentiments when he outlined how impressed he was when, after agreeing to be a selector on this year’s Munster Football team, he found every player he approached delighted to get the call and anxious to play where at all possible. As he said no player withdrew for lack of interest, only where other pre-arranged commitments or injury ruled them out.
It was the same with the hurling squad where Anthony Daly and John Mullane found players eager to represent their county on the provincial team where at all possible and were able to field a strong side in both games against Ulster and Leinster. The goodwill towards the competition is there on the part of the players and it is up to Croke Park to respond by coming up with a formula to make the games more attractive to the public at large.
Regarding last week’s games themselves it was great to see dedicated footballers like Thomas O’Gorman, Paul Whyte and Patrick Hurney getting the opportunity to mix it with a very strong Ulster side in Parnell Park despite Munster being on the end of a 3 – 17 to 1 – 15 defeat in a well contested game. Whyte, in fact, was top scorer for Munster with four points.
The hurling final saw six Waterford players added to the distinguished group of Deise ‘Railway Cup’ medal holders. Over the two games Barry Coughlan, Noel Connors, Jamie Barron, Shane Fives, Shane Bennett and Stephen Bennett all figured prominently in the semi – final win over Ulster and the final against Leinster last Thursday which Munster won on a score of 2 – 20 to 2 – 16. It was a game between two well matched sides that saw Munster come from behind to score 1–5 in the closing minutes without reply to clinch the victory. By all accounts it was a great occasion for all involved.
Scorers: Munster: S Callanan 0-7 (4f, 1 65), D Reidy 1-2, A Shanagher 1-0, A Cadogan 0-3, D McCormack & B Nash 0-2 each, D Byrnes, J Barron, M Breen & Stephen Bennett 0-1 each.
Leinster: TJ Reid 1-6 (0-4f), L Chin 1-1, W Walsh 0-4, C Dwyer & G Keegan 0-2 each, S Dooley 0-1.
MUNSTER: D Gleeson (Tipperary); B Coughlan (Waterford), J Barry (Tipperary), N Connors (Waterford); D Byrnes (Limerick), C Dillon (Clare), P Maher (Tipperary); B Maher (Tipperary), J Barron (Waterford); D McCormack (Tipperary), M Breen (Tipperary), Shane Bennett (Waterford); J O’Dwyer (Tipperary), S Callanan (Tipperary), D Reidy (Clare). Subs: N McGrath (Tipperary) for Shane Bennett (h.t.), A Cadogan (Cork) for B Maher (h.t.), B Nash (Limerick) for McCormack (h.t.), S Dowling (Limerick) for O’Dwyer (50), A Shanagher (Clare) for Breen (50), Stephen Bennett (Waterford) for Barron (51), S Fives (Waterford) for Coughlan (55), T Murnane (Kerry) for Dillon (55), C Lynch (Limerick) for Callanan (60+1).
LEINSTER: J Dempsey (Offaly); M Whelan (Laois), T Doyle (Westmeath), L Ryan (Wexford); P Walsh (Kilkenny), K Joyce (Kilkenny), C Crummey (Dublin); C Fogarty (Kilkenny), S Ryan (Offaly); W Walsh (Kilkenny), L Chin (Wexford), C Dwyer (Laois); S Dooley (Offaly), TJ Reid (Kilkenny), G Keegan (Kildare). Subs: M Kavanagh (Carlow) for Dooley (27), E Murphy (Kilkenny) for Keegan (h.t.), Keegan for S Ryan (46).
Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway).