As far as Fitzgibbon Cup openers come, the Cork University couldn’t have asked for much more on home turf yesterday — 22 scores posted, only four points from open play conceded, the full compliment of subs employed and maximum points secured ahead of their second assignment in Galway next week.
Manager Ger Cunningham had very few complaints when reflecting on this 20-point mauling. “We hit three goals and we could have possibly hit six or seven,” said Cunningham.
“First day out is always important. To win our home match was important because it is a tough group, GMIT will probably be seen as the weakest of the four. Our focus will turn quickly to Galway and if we can win there that is us into the quarter-final.”
With the result wrapped up by half-time, UCC ahead 2-10 to 0-3, competition for a starting berth occupied Cunningham’s troops during a mundane second period.
“I said to them before the match it was an extremely difficult team to pick. A lot of fellas had put their hands up for selection over the past weeks. We have a very strong bench. There are inter-county panellists on that bench. It is a nice headache to have.”
GMIT’s Jason Flynn and Tadhg Haran traded early efforts with Barry Lawton and Alan Cadogan, the latter pouncing for the opening major of the contest on 16 minutes.
Lawton and Cadogan split the posts in the ensuing passages of play, and when Lehane spun clear from the attention of three purple shirts to strike goal number two on 21 minutes, an air of inevitably hung over the pristine Mardyke venue.
The impressive Lawton (0-2, 0-1 free) and an absolute gem from Lehane stretched the gap out to 13-points by the interval and while GMIT’s Conor O’Donnell (two frees) and a superb Haran sideline cut provided brief respite for the visitors early in the second-half, they would add only one further score to their tally in the final 20 minutes of action.
Shane O’Donnell, set-up by substitute DJ Foran, pulled to net for goal number three and Anthony Spillane’s point on 57 minutes ensured UCC’s entire front eight had left their mark. In the end, an all too easy opening round assignment for Cunningham’s charges — tougher tests lie ahead.
Scorers for UCC: B Lawton (0-7, 0-4 frees); C Lehane, S O’Donnell, A Cadogan (1-2 each); J Barron (0-2); R O’Shea, D Roche, T Devine, A Spillane (0-1 each).
Scorers for GMIT: C O’Donnell (0-4, 0-3 frees, 0-1 ‘65); T Haran (0-2, 0-1 sideline cut); S Lawless, J Flynn (0-1 each).
UCC: D O’Gorman (St Finbarr’s); K Burke (Midleton), D Glynn (Dicksboro), S Roche (Shamrocks); R O’Shea (Carrigaline), T Bourke (Clashmore), M Breen (Ballina); D Roche (Sarsfields), J Barron (Fourmilewater); B Lawton (Castlemartyr), T Devine (Modeligo), C Lehane (Midleton); A Spillane (Castlelyons), S O’Donnell (Eire Og Ennis), A Cadogan (Douglas).
Subs: S O’Keeffe (Blackrock) for Lehane (45 mins), D J Foran (Portlaw) for Cadogan (45), P Prendergast (Lismore) for Barron (52), C Murphy (Mallow) for Roche (52), E Finn (St Finbarr’s) for O’Donnell (57).
GMIT: D Starr (Tommie Larkins); P Fox (Carnmore), I Creaven (Killimordaly), K Lane (Ballinderreen); D Burke (St Thomas’), P Hoban (Loughrea), D McGreal (Castlegar); P Flanagan (Kilconieron), T Haran (Liam Mellows); B Toohey (Moneygall), G Brennan (Oranmore/Maree), C O’Donnell (Crusheen); J Flynn (Tommie Larkins), S Lawless (Kilnadeema/Leitrim), N Keary (Loughrea).
Subs: G Grealish (Carnmore) for McGreal (40 mins), D Cooney (Killimordaly) for Flanagan (45), S Collins (Ballinderreen) for Hoban (48).
Referee: J O’Brien (Tipperary).