Quick goals send UCC marching to semi-finals

TWO goals within minutes of the restart were the decisive scores in this entertaining Fitzgibbon Cup quarter-final at the Mardyke yesterday.

It appeared an unlikely result given how evenly-matched the sides were in the opening moiety.

The teams went in at the interval level at 10 points each after being level 10 times, but goals by John Halbert and Stephen Moylan in the 34th and 36th minutes changed the complexion of the game.

With support for the game split because of CIT’s home game against GMIT, the crowd was well down, but those who turned up were treated to a splendid tie by two teams brimful with talent. Richie Foley was unbeatable at centre back for UCC, ably assisted by Michael Rice, Bill Beckett and Eoghan Murphy, while the teacher training college had excellent players in Brian Malone, Cha Fitzpatrick, Richie Hogan and Ger Arthur.

There was never more than a point between them in the opening half as Eoghan Murphy and Richie Hogan matched each other score for score.

The only hint of a goal came midway through the half when UCC ‘keeper Anthony Nash denied Richie Hogan with a great save, and Bill Beckett, who led the home attack in fine style, thundered a shot off the St Pat’s crossbar.

Kilkenny senior Cha Fitzpatrick, who played Fitzgibbon Cup hurling with UCC in the recent past, gave his side a grip at midfield and with Ger Arthur sparkling at corner forward, the visitors proved more than a match for their opponents.

Richie Hogan, a star colleges player with St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny in 2005, showed superb accuracy from frees, scoring eight points in total.

At the other end UCC’s Eoghan Murphy was equally good, scoring five points from frees and two from play and it was all to play for as they turned over level at 0-10 apiece.

The first goal was always going to be crucial and it fell to the home side in the 34th minute when John Halbert touched home Michael Rice’s superb line ball.

Finally there was some daylight between the teams and it got better for UCC two minutes later. Stephen Moylan had his initial attempt blocked by the St Pats ‘keeper Jody Harkin but Moylan was on hand to force the ball over, stretching the lead to six points.

UCC then put up the shutters and Richie Foley and Shane O’Neill cleared an amount of ball. Kevin Hartnett finally got the better of Fitzpatrick at midfield and with plenty of possession, the home attack pushed on.

After Richie Hogan and Eoghan Murphy shared six points between them, keeping UCC two goals to the good at the three quarter-stage, they finally closed the door with a third goal.

Substitute David Harte took off on a great run before drilling the sliothar to the net, and while the impressive Clare senior Ger Arthur managed a goal four minutes from time, the gap was far too wide for St Pats to bridge.

Scorers: UCC: E. Murphy 0-7 (0-4 frees, 0-1 65); S. Moylan 1-3; B. Beckett 0-4; J. Halbert, D. Harte 1-0 each; J. O’Gorman, J. Nagle 0-1 each. St. Pats: R. Hogan 0-8 (frees); G. Arthur 1-3; J. Fitzpatrick 0-2; M. Walsh, P. Hogan 0-1 each.

UCC: A. Nash (Cork); C. O’Driscoll (Cork), D. Cody (Kilkenny), M. Cahill (Tipperary); S. O’Neill (Cork), R. Foley (Waterford), A. Qulligan (Clare); M. Rice (Kilkenny), K. Hartnett (Cork); J. Nagle (Waterford), B. Beckett (Kilkenny), J. O’Gorman (Waterford); J. Halbert (Cork), E. Murphy (do), S. Moylan (do).

Subs: D. Harte (Galway) for Nagle; J. Jordan (Cork) for Qulligan; P. Barry (Cork) for Halbert; D. McSweeney (Cork) for O’Driscoll; S. Walsh (Tipperary) for Cody.

ST PATS/MATER DEI: J. Harkin (Tipperary); J. Byrne (Kilkenny), B. Malone (Wexford), C. Lawlor (Wexford); N. Tennyson (Kilkenny), P. Hogan (Kilkenny), JJ Farrell (Kilkenny); M. Walsh (Kilkenny), J. Fitzpatrick (Kilkenny); E. O’Donoghue (Kilkenny), B. Doyle (Wexford), M. Bergin (Kilkenny); R. Hogan (Kilkenny), A. Healy (Kilkenny), G. Arthur (Clare).

Sub: S. Reilly (Laois) for Walsh.

Referee: P. Casey (Waterford).Semi-final pairings

UCC v Waterford IT

Limerick IT v GMIT

Both games are fixed for Cork on Friday, February 29.

The final is fixed for Cork on March 1.

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