Fielding a team made up of inter-county players representing from Tipperary, Limerick, Offaly, Cork, Kilkenny and Wexford, last year's defeated finalists produced a splendid performance and on this evidence, will have a big say in the destination of the title.
Defensively WIT were rock solid with Paul Curran (Tipperary), JJ Delaney (Kilkenny), Mick Fitzgerald (Cork) and Joe Brady (Offaly) unbeatable, with Brady outstanding from the bunchmatch. Ollie Moran and Fergus Flynn ruled the roost at midfield while up front, Brian Dowling, Mick Jacob and Setanta Ó hAilpín posed endless problems for an overworked GMIT defence. Ó hAilpín was in sparkling form particularly when moved to full forward early in the second half. His contribution of 2-2 will certainly increasedid his chances of a first team place against Limerick in the upcoming NHL fixture. fixture no harm at all.
GMIT laboured in most sectors of the field, but in goalkeeper Gearoid Harty they have a player of exceptional ability. He made a number of magnificent saves, one from Ó hAilpín in the second half to deny the Corkman his hat-trick, and he couldn't be faulted for the three that beat him. Indeed he made a great effort to keep out Conor Phelan's first half goal after 15 minutes which put WIT firmly on the road to a convincing victory. The greater stick-work of Ollie Moran and Fergus Flynn at midfield and the physical strength of Ó hAilpín in attack, saw WIT take a six-point lead after 20 minutes and GMIT were in real danger of a drubbing.
In an effort to try and contain GMIT then switched Brian Loughnane back on to Ó hAilpín and it had the desired effect. Three unanswered points followed, two from the lively Cathal Coen, and a half-time lead of 1-6 to 0-5 was a poor return for all the dominance WIT had enjoyed. WIT resumed the second half with Ó hAilpín at full forward and it was a master move. In the space of a minute he blasted home two goals and while GMIT continued to battle, it was a lost cause.
The Connacht side were given a glimmer of hope in the 45th when Cathal Coen goaled from a 20 metre free, but it was only a token score, and WIT could afford to take off their big- name players for the remainder. Scorers WIT: S. Ó hAilpín 2-2; C. Phelan 1-1; B. Dowling (0-1 free), D. Murray (frees) 0-2 each; O. Moran, MJ Furlong, F. Flynn, M. Jacob, M. Walsh 0-1 each.
GMIT: C. Coen !-3 (1-2 frees); N. Earles 0-2 (frees); C. Burke 0-1.
WIT: D. Young; B. Lynch, P. Curran, JJ Delaney; M. Fitzgerald, J. Brady, H. Moloney; O. Moran, F. Flynn; B. Dowling, M. Jacob, MJ Furlong; S. Ó hAilpín, C. Phelan, D. Murray. Subs. M. Walsh for Flynn; R. Jacob for Murray; K. Rossiter for Moloney; A., Owens for Ó hAilpín; J. Phelan for Brady.
GMIT: G. Harty; T. Regan, N. O'Connor, A. Keane; B. Loughnane, D. Collins, J. Cannon; N. Earles, C. Burke; C. Coen, G. Hanley, T. Kavanagh; D. Forde, P. Thornton, S. McCormack. Subs. N. Healy for Earles; J. Molloy for Thornton.
Referee, J. Sweeney (Tipperary).