Boylan backs series despite another snub by the public
REASONS for why the Interprovincial Championships are so emphatically shunned by the sporting public were in short supply in Parnell Park yesterday. So too, unfortunately, were the sporting public.
The latest attempt to resuscitate a once-great GAA institution faces twin foes in public apathy and opposition from within the Croke Park power-chain and perhaps the first symptom is a byproduct of the second.
But as long as Martin Donnelly keeps it moving financially and the players turn up and do their part, the games should remain as enjoyable as yesterday's.
However long that is.
At a stretch, there might have been 600 spectators in Donnycarney to watch Munster beat the 'home' side by 1-16 to 1-13 and set up a final with Ulster next weekend but those that did make it in were treated to some good football and an interesting contest.
Munster led from the 40th second until the end of the match but there were three separate mini- fightbacks from Seán Boylan's team to maintain the interest and the miniscule terrace faithful cheered, booed and complained as if they were watching their own county.
Perhaps if more were enticed into attendance, they might end up enjoying themselves. Who knows?
"I think anybody who was there would have enjoyed it and enjoyed it well," commented Boylan afterwards. "That's a great thing. Would I have liked to have seen more people? I would, yeah.
"Has there been a lot of negative talk about it? Yeah there's been quite a lot of negative talk about it, particularly from people from within our own association, people who would have had a lot of prominence in the association over the years but I think sometimes when we get certain positions we forget about the lads who play the game."
And those very lads got stuck into each other yesterday but it was Munster who mingled quicker and so had 1-5 on the board before Leinster had had time to introduce themselves to one other.
Oddly for a Munster football team, their full-forward line contained no Cork or Kerry players yet the representatives of Clare, Waterford and Limerick (namely David Tubridy, Gary Hurney and Ian Ryan) hunted and gathered 1-10 between them.
Hurney, in particular, gave truth to the old nugget about the star of the Division 4 county being good enough to "get his place on any team in the country" and bustled his way in, through and around a mountain of work.
Tubridy, too, had a fruitful first half and were it not for a couple of Bernard Brogan frees, Leinster might have been buried before the 20th minute.
As it happened, they hung in and when Mikey Conway's shot was parried by Alan Quirke, Cahir Healy was on hand to volley home Leinster's goal, and the match at least had some semblance of competitiveness. And it might have been even closer at half-time had Diarmuid Connolly's shot squeezed inside Alan Quirke's left-hand post rather than crashing into the side netting.
Leinster were six down (1-10 to 1-4) at the break but a run of four unanswered points after half-time put the result back into question.
Brogan was winning more ball while Louth's Paddy Keenan came into his own, kicking five points from play in a superb exhibition from midfield.
Munster hit back with five points of their own before Leinster re-seized momentum and scored five themselves to bring the deficit back to two. But it was Tubridy who ceased the fightback and earned Munster's victory.
"We asked 25 lads, every single one of those wanted to play for Leinster," insisted Boylan. "I don't know what happened with Munster but not one said they didn't want to do it. They were all up for it.
"I just think that in some of the places where we're trying to promote the game players like these are the people to bring out and show the skills because there were some fantastic scores taken out there, there was some great blocking out there today, there was great sportsmanship there today and any day you get that," he concluded, "it's not a bad day."