Waterford IT 0-13
Cork IT 0-7
By Brendan Larkin
OLLIE MORAN swapped his coaching position for that of a player and still came up trumps in the Fitzgibbon Cup final.
At the Ragg on Saturday, Moran, who coached UL to last year’s title, turned in a starring role at midfield as WIT won their fifth title and their third in five years.
"I thought after last year’s success with UL there was no greater feeling but that’s not so", said Moran.
"Playing the game is what it’s all about and I’m absolutely thrilled at winning a Fitzgibbon Cup medal as a player."
"The lads were very determined to make amends for last year’s final defeat at the hands of UL.
"It wasn’t a great game to watch but no matter, it’s all about winning and we have the cup going home tonight. It’s brilliant.
"I suppose it’s a unique situation to coach a winning team and then play on a winning team, but this was primarily a team effort from all involved and I’m delighted to be a part of it. It’s something I’ll treasure for ever more".
In a final that turned out to be very disappointing for the huge crowd at the Drom-Inch club grounds, there was never a hint of an upset by CIT who failed to produce the form that saw them beat Garda College and UCC on their way to the decider.
The primary difference between the sides was the greater physical presence of the Waterford side, which suited the prevailing conditions.
Defensively WIT were superb, and apart from one magnificent diving save late in the game by goalkeeper Damien Young which denied Garvan McCarthy a badly needed goal, the WIT netminder had little else to do.
The same could be said for his opposite number Martin Coleman who didn’t have a save to make, and he can thank his defenders for that, particularly Jamie Tyrell, Michael Prout and Ronan Curran.
Midfield was always going to be the key area and here the WIT partnership of Ollie Moran and MJ Furlong were always in command against John Gardiner and Stephen O’Sullivan.
CIT tried everything to get Gardiner involved, moving him to full forward for a spell, but nothing went right for him on the day, and they needed a big game from the Cork senior to have had any chance.
Their attack was also a big disappointment, but there are not too many forwards who would get scores off JJ Delaney, Paul Curran, John Brady and man of the match Ken Coogan.
An 0-8 to 0-3 half time lead was a poor return for the amount of possession WIT had enjoyed in the first half and it might have been more had Mick Jacob’s effort not come back off the post with the keeper beaten.
Despite the fact that they played into the wind and driving rain in the second half, WIT continued to pick off their points and CIT were in dire need of a goal if they were to have any chance.
They came within a couple of inches of getting it after the ball broke out to Garvan McCarthy and his first time effort had goal written all over it until Damien Young threw himself to deflect the shot out for a fruitless 65.
There was no way back for the Cork side after that, and WIT finished the game with a succession of points to take their fifth title far more easily than they expected.
It was a personal triumph for coach Colm Bonner who was in his first year in charge.
"Mission accomplished", said a delighted Bonner. "These lads felt very sore after last year’s defeat by UL and were very determined that there was going to no repeat of that.
"Even though the hurling wasn’t great, the lads stood up to be counted and that for me is the most pleasing aspect of the victory.
"Most of our lads are that bit older than the CIT lads and that was another important factor for us. Experience at this level is everything and we had it in abundance".
Scorers for WIT: MJ Furlong, S. Ó hAilpín, D. Murray (frees), B. Dowling, M. Jacob (0-1 free) 0-2 each; O. Moran, S. Hennessy, F. Flynn 0-1 each.
CIT: A. Fogarty 0-3 (0-2 frees); G. McCarthy, G. McLoughlin, P. Tierney, K. Murphy (free) 0-1 each.
WIT: D. Young; B. Lynch, P. Curran, JJ Delaney; M. Fitzgerald, J. Brady, K. Coogan; O. Moran, MJ Furlong; B. Dowling, M. Jacob, F. Flynn; C. Phelan, S. Ó hAilpín, D. Murray. Subs. S. Hennessy for Phelan; R. Jacob for Murray; C. Phelan for Ó hAilpín.
CIT: M. Coleman; B. Murphy, J. Tyrell, M. Prout; V. Hurley, R. Curran, P. Sloane; S. O’Sullivan, J. Gardiner; G. McCarthy, C. O’Leary, J. O’Connor; A. Fogarty, D. O’Riordan, K. Murphy. Subs. P. Tierney for O’Leary; G. McLoughlin for O’Riordan.
Referee: A. MacSuibhne (Dublin).