Munster advanced to the Interprovincial Hurling Final after a convincing display at the Morgan Athletic Grounds in Armagh.
The Munster men beat their Ulster counterparts on a scoreline of 3-20 to 1-14, with the result never looking in doubt. Munster scored three early goals and Ulster never really recovered, despite Neil McManus scoring 1-7. McManus was joined by eight other Antrim players in the starting line-up, but there were no Down representatives as they had been in Kehoe Cup Shield action the day before.
Ulster opened the scoring in the third minute through a McManus free and looked more than equal to their opponent in the first ten minutes. The teams traded points and Munster led by 0-04 to 0-03. However, Munster soon found their rhythm and a five-minute onslaught on the Ulster goal, beginning in the 14th minute, led to three goals.
Limerick’s Graeme Mulcahy scored a brace and Paudie O’ Sullivan added another. It was a killer blow to Ulster’s chances as Munster continued to apply pressure on the Northern backline. Cork’s Patrick Horgan was his accurate self, scoring six frees in the first half as Liam Sheedy’s men extended their lead.
Neil McManus gave the Armagh crowd something to cheer about in the 21st minute when he scored a wonderfully executed goal after some good work from Antrim’s Karl Stewart to make it 3-07 to 1-03.
Ulster remained scoreless for the next eighteen minutes, before Paul Shiels ended the drought with a well-taken point. Paudie O’ Sullivan continued to torment the Ulster defence and added a further two points to make it 3-12 to 1-04 at the half.
To be fair to Ulster, they were much better after the restart but it was clear that Munster had taken their foot off the pedal after a match-winning first half. Neil McManus was the star for Ulster, scoring some wonderfully taken points. Defensively, they restricted Munster to just two points from play in the second half, allowing them to outscore their opponents by 0-10 to 0-08.
For all their effort in the second half, Ulster went on to rue their first-half performance, as Cork ran out convincing winners on a scoreline of 3-20 to 1-14.
MUNSTER: A Nash; S O’Neill, T Condon, N Connors; B Bugler, M Walsh, W McNamara; P Cronin (0-1), S McGrath (0-1); S Dowling (0-7, 0-6f, 0-1 ’45′), P Maher, P O’Sullivan (1-2), G Mulcahy (2-2), B O’Meara (0-1), P Horgan (0-6, 0-6f).
Subs used: S Daniels for Connors, P Mahony for Horgan (both 50 mins), B Maher for McGrath, G O’Mahony for Bugler (both 52), S Sullivan for Maher (60)
ULSTER: R McGarry; M Warnock, A Graffin, K Stewart; N McAuley, L Hinphey, S McCrory (0-1); B McFall, K Hinphey (0-1); A Grant (0-1), R Gaffney (0-1), P Shiels (0-3); S McNaughton, N McManus (1-7, 0-4f), O McCloskey.
Subs used: C Corvan for McFall (18 mins), J Corvan for L Hinphey (half-time), E Clarke for McCloskey (45).