‘The ultimate comeback, they’re a great bunch of lads’

‘The ultimate comeback, they’re a great bunch of lads’
Darragh Fitzgibbon of UCC leaves the field after picking up an injury during the Fitzgibbon Cup Final match between UCC and IT Carlow at Dublin City University Sportsgrounds in Glasnevin, Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile.

The game was still in the balance when Darragh Fitzgibbon was helped off in injury-time but the Cork midfielder had done his bit.

Influential throughout this Fitzgibbon Cup final, it was the Charleville man’s second point just minutes earlier that had finally handed UCC the lead for the first time since Paddy O’Loughlin had opened the scoring for them in the first of the evening’s exchanges.

Fitzgibbon’s second was a score as wondrous as it was vital given he was in full flight and off balance when he let fly from close to the halfway line. It was an inspirational effort and one typical of the talent that resides in this UCC squad.

And of their refusal to accept second best.

“It was the ultimate comeback, really,” he said after the last whistle.

Down to 14 men and, I don’t know, they’re just a great bunch of lads. You saw the way we held off DCU to win the semi-final last Saturday as well. There was just a great spirit there to pull through to the end.

They knew the nature of the challenge that awaited them here. IT Carlow had plundered goals for fun in the competition this season and they added another pair to their treasure chests within seven minutes of this decider starting.

UCC might have blinked but they never looked like buckling.

Half of this team had won the Fitzgibbon last year, after all. Their last two semi-finals, both against DCU, went right down to the wire. This was a team replete with elite inter-county talent and experience and all of that stood to them here.

“You just have to keep going, keep sticking with, doing what you have to do,” said Fitzgibbon, who was one of those backing up the 2019 success.

“We spoke at half-time when we were five points down and told each other that we just have to keep moving the ball through the lines and getting it to our forwards. The talent is amazing there in that team. There are lads that would get into any team in the country and we just did enough at the end.”

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