It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Limerick college. After 10 minutes, John Moores led 0-4 to 0-0. Sean Clarke, brother of Armagh player Ronan, was on target twice as Mary I were overrun in midfield and too elaborate in possession.
However, they got going when centre-forward Robert Ahern fisted a Daniel Quirke ball past Mark Armstrong on 11 minutes, and seven minutes later they took the lead, (2-0 to 0-5), when Ryan palmed home after a Cathrach Keane point attempt came back off the post.
Though Micheál McCartan levelled for John Moores shortly after, a long-range Ryan free ended in the net for the Limerick side to edge ahead (3-1 to 0-6). Ryan had two more before the break, one off each foot, with a McCartan free John Moores' only reply as Mary I led 3-3 to 0-7 at the break.
The second half was less incident-filled as Mary I played an impressive possession game. Substitute Barry Horgan goaled for them in injury time after rounding Armstrong, and though Jarlath McCarthy immediately cancelled that out, Mary I couldn't be caught. They now meet St Pat's of Drumcondra in a battle of the teacher-training colleges in today's final, a repeat of last year's decider.
Scorers for Mary Immaculate College, Limerick: I Ryan 2-5 (0-2f), B Horgan 1-1, R Ahern 1-0, L Costegan, C Keane 0-1 each.
Scorers for Liverpool John Moores University: J McCarthy 1-2, M McCartan 0-5 (0-3f), S Clarke, O Lennon 0-2.
MARY IMMACULATE COLLEGE, LIMERICK: B O'Connor (Cork); M Finnegan (Kerry), S Kennedy (Kildare), B Qualter (Galway); J O'Sullivan (Cork), R Murray (Galway), E Fenton (do); C Keane (Cork), A Garnett (Kerry); R Browne (Limerick), R Ahern (Waterford), M Horan (Kerry); D Quirke (Limerick), R McCann (Galway), I Ryan (Limerick).
Subs: L Costegan (Tipperary) for McCann (33), B Horgan (Cork) for M Horan (49), D O'Driscoll (do) for Garnett (60).
LIVERPOOL JOHN MOORES UNIVERSITY: M Armstrong (Down); C Connolly (Fermanagh), M McGovern (do), N Cassidy (Tyrone); J Jordan (do), P O'Brien (Fermanagh), D Clarke (Down); O Lennon (Monaghan), M McCarthy (Down); J McCarthy (do), S Malone (Armagh), K McBride (Antrim); M McCartan (Down), S Clarke (Armagh), K Breslin (Donegal).
Sub: G Trainor for Horan (41).
Referee: C Lyons (Cork).