Both of last year’s All-Ireland finalists await UCC, with Saturday’s Canon O’Brien Cup clash with Cork followed by a trip to face Clare on Sunday in the semi-final of the Waterford Crystal. If the college are to win a third successive Fitzgibbon in Belfast, they would be playing on consecutive days at the end of February and start of March and former Tipperary star Enright is looking forward to the challenge.
“We have Cork on the Saturday in the Canon O’Brien Cup and then Clare on Sunday, it’s kind of bonus territory,” he said.
“It’ll be tough, but that’s kind of like the way the Fitzgibbon is going to be, it’s going to test the panel. Everybody should get a game, I think it’ll work out well for us.”
In last year’s Fitzgibbon final, UCC had only five points to spare on Mary I, but they had things almost all their own way here, never looking back once Jack Ahern’s goal gave them a 1-5 to 0-3 lead in the 10th minute.
Further goals from his colleagues in the full-forward line, Conor Lehane and Willie Griffin, ensured a 3-18 to 0-7 half-time lead and the outcome was never in doubt thereafter. All told, the inside trio scored 3-16 between them, with Lehane grabbing 1-6 from full-forward despite being brought off with almost half an hour left.
Brian Murray and Daniel Roche processed a lot of ball at midfield and while James Barry scored three points from wing-back, he was just as good at carrying out his primary defensive duties. Barry Lawton and Dan McCormack also had their moments,
Mary I were unable to deal with the widespread quality in a UCC side that was without injured inter-county stars Séamus Harnedy (Cork) and Darragh Fives (Waterford). Though Clare star Colm Galvin and Jamie Wall stood out for the visitors, they couldn’t match UCC’s gear change after Ahern’s goal. Lehane doubled home a Rob O’Shea pass on 18 minutes to make it 2-10 to 0-4 and then Griffin struck just before the half hour, with the 20-point interval deficit rendering the second half not far off redundant. With both teams having availed of the maximum five substitutions early in the second-half, the game became more ragged, though UCC sub Alan Cadogan advanced his claims with a couple of nice points and Griffin and Ahern continued to cause problems for the visitors’ defence.
Wall kept battling at full-forward for Mary I and eventually gleaned some reward with a 58th-minute goal and Niall O’Meara added another one not long after. UCC had done more than enough before then, however.
Scorers for UCC: C Lehane (0-2f), W Griffin (0-4f) 1-6 each, J Ahern 1-4, J Barry 0-3 (0-1f), B Murray, B Lawton, D McCormack, A Cadogan 0-2 each, D Roche 0-1.
Scorers for Mary Immaculate College: J Wall 1-3, C Galvin 0-3 (0-1f), N O’Meara 1-0, D Reidy, Eoin Hogan (0-1f), J Moloney 0-2 each, P Hayes, PJ Keane 0-1 each.
UCC (Cork unless stated): D McCarthy; S Maher (Tipperary), D Glynn (Kilkenny), P O’Sullivan; J Barry (Tipperary), C Murphy, K Bourke; B Murray, D Roche; B Lawton, D McCormack (Tipperary), R O’Shea; W Griffin (Limerick), C Lehane, J Ahern (Limerick).
Subs: M Collins for Murray, S Roche (Waterford) for D Roche, C Spillane for Maher (all half-time), A Cadogan for Lehane, D Lester for Barry (both 43).
MARY IMMACULATE COLLEGE: N Kelly (Westmeath); C Barry (Cork), A Ryan (Tipperary), Éanna Hogan (Tipperary); M Collier (Laois), J Meagher (Tipperary), S Kennedy (Tipperary); L Considine (Limerick), C Galvin (Clare); PJ Keane (Kerry), D Reidy (Limerick), D Ferncombe (Tipperary); Eoin Hogan (Tipperary), J Wall (Cork), N O’Meara (Tipperary).
Subs: J Hannon (Limerick) for Considine, L Corry (Clare) for Barry (both half-time), J Moloney (Tipperary) for Keane (41), M O’Shea (Clare) for Galvin, P Hayes (Tipperary) for Eoin Hogan (both 54).
Referee: J O’Brien (Tipperary).