KILKENNY provided a strong presence as Leinster held off a Munster revival to reach the inter-provincial hurling final.
Eleven members of the team who won last year’s All-Ireland lined out for the province in Sunday’s semi-final at Nowlan Park, including all six of the starting defence.
Also there was Michael Fennelly. He reprised his role as a goal-scorer from September’s final, cutting through the Munster back-line to drill a low shot past Donal Og Cusack with little over a minute on the clock.
All three of Leinster goals had some Kilkenny involvement. Richie Hogan set up the second, grabbing a quick puck-out before teeing up Joe Bergin to provide the finish midway through the half while Richie Power helped himself to the third, converting a 30th minute penalty after Dublin’s Ryan O’Dwyer was fouled in the square.
By half-time Joe Dooley’s side looked to be in a good position, as they led Liam Sheedy’s men by nine points (3-8 to 0-8).
Munster were sharper after the restart, getting a great start when John Conlon netted a fine strike on 39 minutes. The points began to flow for Sheedy’s side, with John Gardiner and Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh getting in on the act as they narrowed the gap to just two with five minutes to go (3-11 to 1-15).
Munster had a great chance to take the lead when Pauric Mahony was fouled in the square, but Patrick Horgan’s penalty was saved. Leinster worked the sliotar clear, getting possession downfield for Richie Power to point before Colin Fennelly added a long-range insurance score to seal Leinster’s place in the final. They will play Connacht in the decider in a fortnight’s time.
SCORERS: Leinster - Richie Power (1-5, 1-0 pen, 0-3 frees); Shane Dooley (0-5, 0-1 free); Joe Bergin (1-1); Michael Fennelly (1-0); Brian Hogan, Eoin Larkin, Colin Fennelly (0-1 each). Munster - John Conlon (1-3); Patrick Horgan (0-3); John Gardiner (0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 65); Pauric Mahony (0-2 frees); Eoin Kelly (0-1, free); Pa Cronin, Shane McGrath, Patrick Donnellan, Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh (0-1 each).
Leinster (Kilkenny, unless stated) - G. Maguire (Dublin), P. Murphy, N. Hickey, J. Tyrrell, T. Walsh, B. Hogan, J.J. Delaney, M. Fennelly, M. Rice, R. O’Dwyer (Dublin), R. Power, E. Larkin, S, Dooley (Offaly), J, Bergin (Offaly), R, Hogan. Subs: W. Hyland (Laois) for R. Hogan, 36 mins; D. Stamp (Wexford) for B. Hogan, 36 mins; C. Fennelly for O’Dwyer, 55 mins; R. Hanniffy (Offaly) for Bergin, 61 mins; R. Jacob (Wexford) for Rice, 70 mins.
Munster - D. Og Cusack (Cork), M. Cahill (Tipperary), P. Curran (Tipperary), T. Condon (Limerick), J. Gardiner (Cork), P. Maher (Tipperary), P. Donnellan (Clare), S. O’Sullivan (Waterford), S. McGrath (Tipperary), P. Cronin (Cork), M. Walsh (Waterford), B. Maher (Tipperary), J. Conlon (Clare), E. Kelly (Tipperary), P. Horgan (Cork). Subs: D. O’Grady (Limerick) for McGrath, 39 mins; S. Molumphy (Waterford) for Cronin, 46 mins; G. Ryan (Tipperary) for Kelly, 55 mins; P. Mahony (Waterford) for Gardiner, 58 mins; K. Moran (Waterford) for Donnellan, 67 mins.
Referee - A. Kelly (Galway).