After a wait of over ten years, University of Limerick have finally got their hands on the Irish Universities Harding Cup.
A goal in each half proved enough to see the Limerick side get the better of Munster rivals UCC at the Belfield Bowl and break their hoodoo to take the top university freshers trophy for the first time since 2008.
Player of the Tournament Ed O’Dwyer struck the opener minutes before the break and half-time substitute Adam Foley sealed the win with the second midway through the half.
UL were by far the better side throughout and goal scorer O’Dwyer deservedly was vote the top player of this three day tournament after fine displays in earlier round wins against DCU and Maynooth University.
UCC had impressed with victories over Mary Immaculate College and UCD but apart from an early half chances from Mark Lynes, Gordon Walker and Keith White they failed to get the better of a resolute UL defence where D J Cremins stood out.
O’Dwyer’s goal gave the Limerick side a great boost coming up to half time. The impressive Tipperary born midfielder was involved in a neat build up on the right and he cut inside to tee up a left footed drive way out of the reach of the diving UCC ‘keeper Vondra Vjeko to keep up his record of scoring in each of UL's three tournament games.
UL continued their domination after the break and it came as no surprise when they stretched the lead at the midway point.
In a swift counter attack, Finian Brady threaded a neat ball through the UCC defence and Foley ran on to take control and round the advancing Vjeko to strike the ball into the unguarded net.
The result was heartbreak for the Cork side who have now tasted defeat in three of the past four Harding Cup finals and had hoped to complete a cup double after their senior side’s recent Collingwood Cup win over UL.
UCC: V Vjeko: L Weisman, Z Eusepi-Harris, E Hurley, B Palmer (P O’Callaghan 75); G Walker, I Nzewi; D Scott, K White (S Egan 83), M Carroll; M Lynes (P Crowley 55).
UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK: S McCormack; D J Cremins, A Quaid, T Murray (S Leonard h-t), K Moloney; C Noonan, D Loughnane; F Brady (J Keane 85), E O’Dwyer, J Hanrahan (A Foley h-t); C Whittle (S Coughlan 80).
Referee: Richard Glynn (Dublin).