Report by Pearse O'Caoimh
Both Munster and CUC came into the final round of games unbeaten as the crowds swelled around parc 50 in anticipation at what was expected to be the showcase match of the tournament. Though a quick glance at the sides during the warm up told a different story. Munster were boasting a particularly inflated squad of 14 seasoned pros while CUC looked to have the bare minimum to field a team. Both provinces however, especially Ulster, have come through worse in the past (historically speaking) so to write them off would have been a massive error and one this reporter was certainly not going to make.
The opening exchanges were tense and yielded few scores but it wasn't long before Munster started to impose their superiority on the game. After Clareman James O'Shaughnessy pointed early on for his side from a sideline, CUC were forced to wait until the dying moments of the first half for their next score. Michael Hough, formidable as ever, was causing huge problems for the CUC defence and was picking off points with relative ease. Munster were an absolute joy to watch at times as Daves Barrett and Collins on the field understanding continued to blossom in the half back line. Their build up play was patient, their passing was consistent and this told on the score board as CUC's hopes of a top of the table finish began to fade.
There was a nifty little new young lad playing in the full back line for Munster who deserves mention for an impressive debut. His presence, though welcomed, adds to the air of discontent within Belgian GAA circles about the mysterious and steady expansion of the Munster squad with unknowns. This was reflected by their increasingly emphatic results since the beginning of the campaign.
This reporter found himself on umpire duty during the match and noted the contrast in mood between both goalkeepers as he fished for quotes and insight. Romadrian in the Munster goal was brash and confident proclaiming "Munster is the best" while Kevin Keary in the CUC goal cut a lonely figure as time and time again, he was forced to collect the ball from the imaginary nets he had forgotten to bring.
Paul Hagan's goal midway through the second half looked to renew CUC's faith and passion but Munster just proved too strong all over the pitch. Not even the famous Olof Gill holler could spur his men on for what would have been an amazing comeback.
Such was the fluidity of Munster's play that I could not pick a man of the match. This reporter recalls a unique moment in 2008 when after a mesmerising performance from his own county in an all-Ireland hurling final, the manager was in fact awarded the man of the match accolade. Therefore, either David Barrett deserves the credit here.