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Back in the day - Feb 1 1998: Tony Boyle blasts Leinster aside to lead Ulster to Railway Cup final

POWERING THROUGH...Ulster’s Tony Boyle holds off Galway defender Sean Og de Paor during yesterday’s Railway Cup win over Connacht. 

Railway Cup semi-final replay: Ulster 0-20 Connaught 1-14 (After Extra Time)

TONY Boyle proved a sure-fire winner by scoring a magnificent match-clinching 12 points for Ulster at Clones yesterday.

Inspired by the sparkling play of dynamic sub Jim McGuinness, Ulster recorded a rare inter-provincial replay win to qualify for Sunday’s final against champions Leinster.

Donegal’s acclaimed All-star marksman hit peak form with a perfect 10 from free chances and two points from play to power a first Railway Cup replay success by an Ulster team since the era of Willie Young, Tom O’Reilly and Jim McCullagh in 1936.

A crowd of around 1,500 enjoyed a well contested, and, from the half way point, a quality rematch which wanted for nothing.

It featured excitement, good football from both sides, no shortage of fine scoring and, from Tyrone goalkeeper Finbar McConnell, three brilliant saves in extra time.

Connacht pulled it out of the fire when replacement forward Brian Walshe scored with the last kick of normal time to send the match into extra time for the second week in a row.

A fair reflection of a balanced battle, matters were all square at 0-15 to 1-12, and during the additional half hour Ulster manager Brian McEniff must have been reaching for the blood pressure tablets.

On three occasions his ace keeper McConnell pulled off quite superlative saves.

All were dangerous one-on-one exchanges, McConnell denying Dowd 15 seconds into the restart then Walshe on 66 minutes.

Best of all was when he produced a terrific body-block to beat out an 81st minute drive from Fergal Costello.

It was a save that may rank as best of the year and its still only freezing February.

In a frantic closing six minutes Boyle and substitutes Diarmuid Marsden and McGuinness were on the mark while Gerard Cavlan hit a fabulous long range angled free to settle the issue.

McEniff’s side, who got their game together after an indifferent first half, will now face title holder Leinster at Clones this weekend.

Ulster: F McConnell, P Devlin, C Lawn, JJ Doherty, N Hegarty (0-1), H Downey, K McGeeney, J Burns, A Tohill, D McCabe (0- 1), G Cavlan (0-3), P McGrane, P Reilly, T Boyle (0-12), P Canavan (capt)

Subs: D Marsden (0-1) for Reilly (37), J McGuinness (0-2) for McCabe (48), P Brewster for Burns (50)

Extra time subs: P Reilly for McGrane (84), B Morris for Hegarty (88)

Connacht: P Burke, K Mortimer, G Fahey, F Costello, D Donlon, D Mitchell, S Og De Paor (capt), P Fallon (0-1), J Nallen, A Rooney (0-1), E O’Hara (0-2), C McManaman (0-2), M Sheridan (0-5), A Cullen (0-2), L Dowd (1-0)

Subs: B Walshe (0-1) for Rooney 43

Extra time subs: C Murray for Donland (75), B Kilcoyne for Walshe (87)

Ref: J Harlin (Meath)

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AN explosive short right hook blasted out stoppage victory No 5 for Ireland’s rising young cruiserweight star, Cathal O’Grady at Pickett’s Lock in north London on Saturday night.

It took the 20-year-old Dublin-based southpaw just 91 seconds to flatten Belgian Bruno Wuestenberghs, after dropping him to the deck inside the first half minute.

O’Grady hasn’t been stretched to the full distance in any of his fights since his pro debut at the Ulster Hall, Belfast last September.

ooooooOOOOOoooooo

CATHERINA McKiernan emphaticallly showed 5,000 home fans in Dunleer yesterday that she is in the form of her life.

The Cavan runner, competing less than 40 miles from her home village of Cornafean, destroyed an internationalclass field to win the Ras na hEireann over the exceptional Dunleer course.

Hero worship seemed finally to arrive for the quietly spoken Cavan woman with her being mobbed by hordes of young and not so young autograph hunters afterwards.

The spectators had witnessed an awesome display of front running with McKiernan blasting away from the gun to win by 51 seconds from Kenyan Lucia Subano.

Bear in mind that nine days ago Subano was within 30 seconds of Romanian winner, Mariana Chirila, when placing fourth at Barnett’s Park, Belfast.

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