Healy strikes to flatten Munster

From the Irish Independent newspaper

Sunday February 22 2009

Connacht 2-20

Munster 2-18

A late rally saw Connacht book a place in next month’s M Donnelly Hurling Inter-provincial final in the sunny climes of Abu Dhabi. When Stephen Molumphy edged Munster 2-18 to 1-19 ahead on 60 minutes in Pearse Stadium, Munster looked to be on their way, but a cracking goal and an injury-time insurance point from Niall Healy saw Connacht snatch victory.

Just over 100 spectators were in attendance as Munster enjoyed the better of a lack-lustre first half and they led by 2-7 to 0-9 at half-time.

The opening goal came on seven minutes when Stephen Molumphy set up Paul Kelly who finished with aplomb, while further defensive uncertainty in the Connacht rearguard saw Munster’s second goal arrive on 11 minutes.

Ken McGrath found himself inside the defence and he finished past the advancing Eric Ward to leave Munster 2-3 to 0-5 ahead. Two well-taken points in the final 10 minutes of the half from the impressive Niall Healy were answered by Munster with points from Tony Griffin, Ken McGrath — who operated for periods at both centre and full-forward — and two Andrew O’Shaughnessy frees to leave Munster four ahead at the break.

An experimental Connacht side, nine of whom have yet to play senior championship hurling for Galway, hurled with greater purpose in the second half and the game produced some fine scores. Yet, Munster, thanks to Seamus Prendergast and Andrew O’ Shaughnessy, led by 2-13 to 0-12 on 42 minutes. But with subs Kevin Hynes and Cyril Donnellan making a significant impact in attack, Connacht thundered back into the contest with a well-taken Aonghus Callanan 44th-minute goal. After two points form Kevin Hynes and Niall Healy the deficit was reduced to 2-13 to 1-14.

Prendergast steadied Munster with a fine point, and despite scores from Andy Coen, Brian Burke and Martin Ryan, Connacht could not get level with Munster, for whom sub Jonathan Clancy and Tony Griffin notched neat scores.

Thus with the game in its final minutes, Munster were clinging to a 2-18 to 1-19 lead before Niall Healy produced the goods with a late salvo of 1-1 and helped John McIntyre’s side gain a place in the final, which for their refusal to give up in the second half, they probably deserved.

Scorers — Connacht: N Healy 1-6 (0-2f), A Callanan 1-2, A Coen (0-1f), K Hynes, C Donnellan 0-2 each, M Ryan, B Burke, A Cullinane, K Raymond, K Hooban, J Gantley 0-1 each.

Munster: A O’Shaughnessy 0-6 (0-6f), P Kelly 1-2, K McGrath 1-1, S Prendergast, T Griffin 0-3 each, S McGrath, S. Molumphy, J Clancy 0-1 each.

Munster: B Cummins (Tipperary); C O’Brien (Tipperary), D Prendergast (Waterford), E Murphy (Waterford); B Dunne (Tipperary), M Walsh (Waterford), S Hickey (Limerick); S McGrath (Tipperary), D O’Grady (Limerick); S Prendergast (Waterford), K McGrath (Waterford), T Griffin (Clare); A O’Shaughnessy (Limerick), S Molumphy (Waterford), P Kelly (Tipperary). Subs: D Fitzgerald (Tipperary) for Murphy (27), J Woodlock (Tipperary) for O’ Grady (h/t), J Clancy (Clare) for Kelly (49), S O’ Sullivan (Waterford) for McGrath (53).

Connacht: (All Galway except stated) E Ward; M Ryan, D McClearn, F Moore; A Coen, B Costello, B Burke; A Cullinane, K Raymond (Sligo); M Kerins, P Killilea, K Hooban; N Healy, J Gantley, A. Callanan. Subs: K Hynes for Killilea (38), C Donnellan for Kerins (42), R Murray for Hooban (49), F Healy for Raymond (58).

Referee: F Smith (Meath)

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