Keelan Sexton contributed a magnificent haul of 1-10 at Grangegorman last night to power UL towards a surprise victory over DIT in the opening round of the Sigerson Cup.
The Clare attacker was in scintillating form throughout the course of the contest, as Declan Brouder’s charges advanced to the third round by the slenderest of margins.
While a forthcoming encounter against Athlone IT offers DIT a shot at redemption in this year’s competition, this defeat undoubtedly comes as a set-back for Brian Flanagan’s much-fancied charges.
Despite moving into an early two-point lead (0-3 to 0-1) courtesy of points from Ronan O’Toole, James Conlon and Callum Pearson, DIT were pegged back by a brace of Sexton frees.
The hosts reinforced their superiority through the increasingly-impressive Conlon and O’Toole, before the Treaty County outfit responded with a second-quarter scoring blitz.
Following Eoghan Lawless’ equalising point on the right-wing, Sexton (who split the posts off an earlier free) saw his speculative effort on 20 minutes floating beyond the reach of DIT’s Mark Jackson.
The Wicklow netminder immediately made amends with a superbly-converted ’45’ and O’Toole narrowed the gap to a minimum with his third point of the contest.
Although Sexton’s latest 0-2 salvo kept UL in the driving seat, DIT had the final say in a pulsating opening period.
After a short kick-out had gone astray, Westmeath native O’Toole fired to the net to leave the sides on level terms at the break.
With ace Dublin forward Brian Howard amongst their ranks, DIT - Sigerson champions in 2013 - were expected to push on after the resumption.
Yet, despite bringing a slender advantage into the final-quarter (1-10 to 1-9), UL subsequently turned the tables on their opponents.
The outstanding Sexton led the charge for the Munster men, clipping four points without reply to reel in the challenge of the Metropolitans.
Jackson and Tom Keane pointed frees for DIT to set-up a tantalising conclusion to the proceedings, which included three nerve-wracking minutes of stoppage-time.
A disciplined UL managed to hold firm under intense pressure, though, to cap a memorable evening in the north Dublin venue.
Scorers for UL: K Sexton 1-10 (0-7f), E Lawless 0-2, P Maxwell 0-1.
Scorers for DIT: R O’Toole 1-4, M Jackson 0-3 (2f, 1 ’45’), J Conlon 0-2, T Keane (f), C Pearson, R O’Brien 0-1 each.
DIT: M Jackson; J McCusker, B Power, A McGowan; D Toner, S Flanagan, F O’Shea; S Hurley, R O’Brien; C Pearson, R O’Toole, B Howard; L Loughlin, O Lynch, J Conlon.
Subs: T Keane for Toner (38), K O’Gara for Loughlin (52), D Monahan for Flanagan (55), F Maguire for Pearson (60).
UL: S Long; M Reidy, G White, F Flanagan; P Maxwell, J Cunnane, J O’Connor; D Bohannon, U Harney; F McDonagh, C Linnane, E Lawless; K Sexton, T Hoare, J Lyons.
Subs: B Friel for McDonagh (28), N Rabbitte for Friel (43), J Ronayne for Linnane (52), P Maher for Hoare (59).
Referee: A Nolan (Wicklow).