It’s been a long time coming but Connacht’s wait for a tenth Railway Cup football title finally ended at Tuam Stadium this afternoon when a storming second half display saw them crush defending champions Ulster by a decisive 2-19 to 1-7 scoreline. Ulster were bidding to land an interprovincial three-in-a-row but instead the men from the West ended a 45-year wait to clinch the province’s first football title since 1969.
Despite the soft spot I have for the Interpros, I didn’t make it to Tuam today – opting instead for the short stroll up the road to see the Dublin/Clare hurling match at Parnell Park – but was able to follow the action on the Twitter machine courtesy of the regular score updates from @ConnachtGAA.
The Connacht side that lined out today featured six of our lads – Robbie Hennelly in goal, Keith Higgins at corner-back, Kevin McLoughlin at wing-back, Aidan O’Shea (who captained the team) and Jason Gibbons at midfield and Michael Conroy at corner-forward – with four from Galway, three from Roscommon and one each from Leitrim and Sligo – full details here. The team was managed by Galway’s John Tobin.
The Westerners didn’t have things their own way in the first half, going in 1-5 to 0-6 behind at the break. Ulster’s goal came from Colm Cavanagh on the half-hour mark while Robbie Hennelly was Connacht’s top scorer at that stage with two points, one a ’45 and the other a free. Keith Higgins got one of the other four points with one each also coming from Galway’s Sean Armstrong, Roscommon’s Niall Daly and Sligo’s David Kelly.
Connacht seized control of the contest on the resumption. A goal from Michael Conroy edged the Westerners in front and a deluge of points followed. Ulster had no answer to this barrage – in which Robbie Hennelly (another long-range free), Keith Higgins, Kevin McLoughlin and Aidan O’Shea all featured – as Connacht stormed clear.
Sligo’s David Kelly provided the icing on the cake in the form of the Westerners’ second goal and they ran out winners by a 15-point margin at the end. Well, I guess that if you’re going to end a protracted wait for a title you may as well do so in style and Connacht certainly did that at Tuam today. Well done to them and, in particular, to the Mayo lads who played such a prominent part in this long overdue interprovincial success.