Outplayed and outsmarted in the opening half, when trailing by seven points, they showed both style and commitment in the second period in holding off a game CIT outfit to win the Fresher’s Division One Hurling League title by a single point.
A Donal O’Reilly goal, one John Meyler will be annoyed with his defence over, almost from the restart gave LIT the perfect impetus to start their charge and with the strong wind at their backs they put in a towering half to deny a never-say-die CIT side.
A second goal from Aengus Calnan, who had a terrific second-half, and the free taking expertise of Niall Healy, who rowed in with 10 points, all contributed to LIT’s victory, though they were almost caught at the death when Asaki Ó hAilpín’s rasping shot was brilliantly saved by LIT keeper James Denieffe.
LIT got the perfect start against the strong breeze when Healy pointed a free. Indeed the Craughwell hurler should have had two more, missing one from in front of the posts when trying for a goal.
But CIT were soon into their stride and two cracking points from Steve Dineen proved the perfect fillip. James Moylan then pointed, Keith McCarthy had another, and they were in for a goal in the 14th minute when Peter Downey found Ó hAilpín in space and the Na Piarsaigh man made no mistake as CIT led 1-4 to 0-2 after the opening quarter.
Healy did reduce the gap with his third free, but with Bosco O’Dwyer and Richard Maher towering in defence, LIT were getting little joy up front. Then Ó hAilpín showed his free taking prowess with three majestic strikes on the trot and despite some great play from Dave Morrissey and Paud Ryan, CIT were well worth their 1-9 to 0-5 interval lead, Michael Fennelly getting the point of the match before the whistle.
But then came that soft goal from O’Reilly almost from the throw-in and it was palpable there was new life in the Limerick challenge. Amazingly, Ó hAilpín should have had a goal at the other end, kicking over the bar when clean though. But with LIT now dominating midfield through the strong play of Paud Ryan, the CIT half back line came under increased pressure and it was no surprise when Aengus Calnan had their second goal in the 43rd minute, after a great ball from Ryan, to put them ahead for the first time.
Leading 2-8 to 1-10 entering the final quarter, it looked all over for the Cork challenge, considering the strength of the wind. Healy and Niall Calnan, who was super, soon stretched that lead to four points but, to their credit, CIT refused to wilt. Maurice O’Sullivan, quiet up to then, got on the end of an Ó hAilpín free in the 48th minute for a rousing goal and although points from the two Calnans from play and another Healy free cancelled out that score, O’Sullivan was in for a third CIT goal in the 54th minute, after being set up by Dineen, and the sides were level.
One score was going to win it now and it was left to Healy, with his seventh free a minute from time, to win it for LIT, though Ó hAilpín might well have pinched it for CIT.
: LIT: N. Healy 0-10 (0-7 frees, 0-1 ‘65), A. Calnan 1-2, D. O’Reilly 1-0, N. Calnan 0-2, N. Cronin 0-1. CIT: I. Ó hAilpín 1-4 (0-3 frees), M. O’Sullivan 2-0, S. Dineen 0-4 (0-1 free), J. Moylan, K. McCarthy, M. Fennelly 0-1 each.
: J. Denieffe; J. Foley, J. Lennon, E. Collins; D. Morrissey, C. Donnellan, D. Young; M. Broderick, P. Ryan; N. Calnan, D. Nevin, E. Buckley; D. O’Reilly, N. Healy, A. Calnan.
: A. Nash; P. O’Flynn, J. O’Dwyer, E. Stokes; C. Fogarty, R. Maher, M. Heffernan; K. McCarthy, M. Fennelly; P. Downey, M. O'SulliVan, S. Dineen; I. Ó hAilpín, J. Bowles, J. Moylan. Subs; J. Finn for Stokes, T. Shanahan for McCarthy.
: R. Barry (Cappawhite).