Brian Lohan hails UL stars as scoring blitz blows UCD away in Fitzgibbon Cup

UL 0-18 UCD 0-15: UL manager Brian Lohan hailed the second-half intensity shown by his charges, 10 unanswered points directly upon the change of ends laying the foundation for this quarter-final win.

Brian   Lohan hails  UL stars as scoring blitz  blows UCD away in Fitzgibbon Cup

Having toiled against the elements in the first period, the home outfit didn’t hang about in capitalising on the strong gale blowing straight down the field.

In a blistering 15 minutes of hurling, UL raised 10 white flags in succession to turn a four-point deficit into a six-point advantage — 0-15 to 0-9 read the scoreboard, entering the final quarter.

Lohan said the result was all the more impressive considering it was achieved without the services of Clare’s Tony Kelly and David McInerney, both absent with hamstring problems.

“If there were two guys that you would really not want to lose together, it is Tony and David. Both have hamstring injuries and if you don’t get them right at this stage of the season, they can be very difficult to get right,” said Lohan.

“The breeze was blowing straight down the field so whoever got it in the first-half, it really was a six or seven-point breeze. We kind of hung in there in the first half and got a couple of decent scores. We were only four down at half-time, but knew the breeze wouldn’t win it for us.

“We scored 10 points in a row early in the second-half which was crucial for us. It would have been a lot more difficult for us had they got an early second-half point or two.”

Conor Martin (0-2), Jason Forde, Brian Stapleton, Stephen Bennett, Tommy Heffernan and the imperious John McGrath (0-3) all found the target as UL punctured holes in the UCD rearguard with consummate ease.

Half-backs Jason Forde and Brian Stapleton were most effective in cutting off the supply lines into the UCD danger men, while at the business end, John McGrath led the barrage of raids on Billy Leydon’s goal — the Loughmore Castleiney hurler enjoying the upper hand in his tussle with Kilkenny’s All-Ireland winning half-back Cillian Buckley. Thereafter was anticipated a UL saunter to the finishing line. It proved anything but.

UCD, to their credit, absorbed UL’s period of dominance and responded with five points without reply to re-ignite both their own challenge and a fading quarter-final fixture.

Ross King supplied the visitors’ first score of the second half on 46 minutes and there followed two further placed ball efforts from the Laois forward. Substitute Dillon Mulligan and full-forward Gareth Sinnott split the posts subsequnetly, UCD in the ascendancy and the gap reduced to the minimum.

Crucially, though, parity was never achieved. John McGrath struck twice in sandwiching a Dan Morrissey point, UL moving out of reach once again.

UCD’s Conor O’Shea landed a free from deep inside his own half and the centre-back was called forward to strike a game-saving 20-metre injury-time free. The five UL shirts on the line smothered O’Shea’s low drive, Cillian Buckley’s rebound also kept out.

Added Lohan: “I thought we worked hard in the first-half. When we were getting scores with the breeze, it was hard for them. Then they changed it around, there was a 10-minute spell where they got a flow of scores to bring them back into it. They brought it back to a point so we are happy to get over the line.”

Conor Devitt, Ross King, Pat Purcell, Colm Cronin and Jack O’Connor were among UCD’s first-half contributors, but eight wides and failure to raise a solitary green flag proved their undoing — an interval lead of four points was never likely to prove sufficient.

Scorers for UL: L McGrath (0-7, 0-5 frees); C Martin (0-4, 0-1 free); J Forde (0-1, free, 0-1 ’65), T Heffernan (0-2 each); B Stapleton, D Morrissey, S Bennett (0-1 each).

Scorers for UCD: R King (0-6, 0-6 frees); C Devitt, P Purcell (0-2 each); C O’Shea (0-1 free), J O’Connor, C Cronin, D Mulligan, G Sinnott (0-1 each).

UL: P Maher (Tipperary); J Browne (Clare), B Troy (Kilkenny), G Ryan (Clare); D Quinn (Tipperary), J Forde (Tipperary), B Stapleton (Tipperary); D Morrissey (Limerick), A McGuane (Clare); J McGrath (Tipperary), C Martin (Kilkenny), PJ Scully (Laois); K O’Brien (Limerick), S Bennett (Waterford), T Heffernan (Tipperary).

Sub: T Cleary (Tipperary) for Scully (58).

UCD: B Leydon (Kilkenny); E Conroy (Wexford); M O’Hanlon (Wexford), C McDonagh (Galway); J Lyng (Kilkenny), C O’Shea (Kilkenny), C Buckley (Kilkenny); C O’Callaghan (Dublin), P Purcell (Laois); C Cronin (Dublin), C Devitt (Wexford), J O’Connor (Wexford); O O’Rourke (Dublin), G Sinnott (Wexford), R King (Laois).

Subs: D Mulligan (Dublin) for O’Callaghan (42 mins), C Conway (Dublin) for O’Connor (46), S Alyward (Kilkenny) for Purcell (56), M Brennan (Kilkenny) for Cronin (58).

Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath).

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