NUI Galway take Fitzgibbon Cup title

NUI Galway 1-17 Waterford IT 1-16

Clare's John Conlon provided the winning score to end NUI Galway's 30-year drought in the Ulster Bank Fitzgibbon Cup as his side finished on top after extra-time in this afternoon's final at Pearse Stadium.

For the second time in the space of 24 hours the Galway college side were forced to dig deep in extra-time.

Chasing their second title in three years, Waterford IT showed their eagerness early on in this game and with Tipperary duo Timmy Hammersley (1-11) and Ray McLoughney impressive, the South East outfit led by 1-7 to 0-4 at half-time.

Finian Coone (1-6) slotted over three points from placed balls for an NUIG side that came under serious pressure from the WIT attack during the opening half.

McLoughney and Ulster Bank man-of-the-match Hammersley were the playmakers in chief, with their Tipperary colleague Brian O'Meara also impressive.

Caimin Morey battled bravely to bring the hosts into contention, and contributed his side's first score from play five minutes before the interval - cutting the gap to three points.

Morey piled on the pressure in search of an equalising goal, but he was kept at bay by WIT goalkeeper Adrian Power who made two excellent saves in quick succession in the 27th minute.

The only goal of the opening half arrived for WIT a minute before the break. NUIG defenders Seamus Hennessy and Declan Connolly collided with each other, allowing Hammersley to break free and push his side into a six-point lead.

Colm Bonnar's WIT charges edged 1-11 to 0-5 clear within nine minutes of the restart, but amazingly did not score again in normal time as NUI Galway took control.

Coone added his fifth point before Morey eventually penetrated the WIT rear guard with a 43rd minute goal.

Morey's three-pointer and a quick-fire Coone point cut the gap to four points, but the middle third of the second half was blighted by a string of wides from both sides as they struggle to tag on scores.

An inspirational 50th minute point from John Lee reignited the NUI Galway comeback, and with Conlon and Coone adding two more, just a point separated the sides as the clock ticked over the 60-minute mark.

NUIG continued to press hard, with Seamus Hennessy's 62nd-minute equaliser forcing extra-time.

Scores flowed freely in the first period of extra-time, with Barry Daly notching a point after 30 seconds to give NUIG the lead for the first time.

Hammersley bagged two points for WIT but a Hennessy point edged NUIG into a 1-14 to 1-13 half-time lead.

WIT blazed out of the blocks on the restart, as scores from Hammersley and substitute Henry Vaughan edged them 1-15 to 1-14 in front.

NUI Galway, however, were not to be denied a rare success and tagged on three of the next four points - including a late Conlon effort - to secured the prized silverware.

After an epic 80-plus minutes of hurling, GAA President Christy Cooney presented the Fitzgibbon Cup to NUI Galway captain and Mullagh native Finian Coone.

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