A wasteful Connacht hurling outfit failed to take advantage against 14-man Leinsterin a low scoring Inter-provincial semi-final in Nenagh on Saturday.
This once popular competition attracted a paltry attendance of less than 100 people as Connacht were left to rue 15 wides, some missed goal chances as well as an inability to take advantage of Leinster being reduced to 14 men for the final 17 minutes.
Despite a slow start, once Connacht got level in the second half and Colin Fennelly was dismissed on 43 minutes, it looked like they would drive on. That they didn’t was a disappointment and from a Connacht perspective it was one that got away.
Newcomers Matt Donoghue (Moycullen) and Mike Conneely (Liam Mellows) got their first taste of provincial action while Sean McInerney (Oranmore Maree) and Abbeyknocmoy’s Paul Flaherty also saw game time
Kiltormer native Jason Kilkenny, who hurls with Roscommon, Cathal Freeman of Mayo and Roscommon’s Cathal Dolan were also introduced as Connacht actually used 10 substitutes during the hour – apparently, 11 can be used in this latest incarnation of the Inter-provincial series with 30 minute halves also in operation.
Lee Chin, who excelled for Leinster at centre forward, shot a fine goal after just four minutes while points from Fennelly and Sean Ryan had Leinster deservedly 1-2 to no score ahead on 10 minutes. Conor Cooney opened Connacht’s account from a free before on 18 minutes Joseph Cooney took a David Burke delivery, got inside the defence and finished neatly to the net to leave it at 1-3 to 1-1.
The final nine minutes of the half saw Leinster outscore Connacht by four points to one, with Walter Walsh, Connacht’s Cathal Mannion and Chris Crummey all shooting fine points to leave Leinster 1-7 to 1-2 ahead at the end of a drab first half which had more wides (16) than scores (11).
And while Brian Molloy and Conor Cooney saw goal efforts hit the side netting, Leinster conjured goal chances themselves with Fennelly, Eamon Dillon and Cha Dwyer all going close in that opening period.
Connacht were much better in the second period. Conor Cooney (2 frees), Jason Flynn with a delightful sideline cut, David Burke with a fine strike, and subs Niall Burke and Aidan Harte all scored by the 41st minute to leave the sides level at 1-8 apiece – Chin getting Leinster’s only score in this period.
Full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune.