Mary Immaculate College were summoned before the GAA’s Disputes Resolution Authority at 9.30am yesterday morning in their bid for reinstatement and by the time their unsuccessful verdict came through at noon, the IT Carlow team bus had just parked at Moylish.
The home outfit, aided by a strong gale in the opening half, returned to the dressing room 1-9 to 0-5 ahead, by no means an insurmountable target for IT Carlow. Both sides had been reduced to 14 men in a heated first half, LIT’s Alan Dempsey receiving a straight red card for a reckless pull on Jack Fagan after 28 minutes.
Conor Doughan reduced the deficit to five (1-7 to 0-5) from the resulting free, but IT Carlow conceded their numerical advantage in the subsequent action — Charles Dwyer picking up a second yellow card for his challenge on Sean O’Brien. It was the second time in four days the Laois hurler had walked for two yellow cards, dismissed late on in Laois’s league defeat to Waterford last Saturday.
LIT tacked on two points approaching the break through David Reidy (two frees) and held out during a charged second period where Davy Fitzgerald and IT Carlow and Kilkenny selector Michael Dempsey exchanged sideline pleasantries.
“We are delighted to get through to another final weekend, it is massive. The fact that we are hosting added extra pressure here,” said LIT boss Fitzgerald. “That was a seriously tough game. The character they showed out there. LIT is a small enough college so to get back to another finals weekend is phenomenal.”
David Reidy, Willie Ryan and Paul Flaherty stood tallest in the first-half for the winners, the latter pair keeping the supply lines open to the lively Reidy operating inside. The Clare forward missed a couple of routines frees in the opening quarter, achieving sweet redemption with a superb individual goal on 20 minutes. Flaherty and Joe Campion were the two other Limerick hurlers to find the target in the first half, Fitzgerald’s forward unit frustrated by a flurry of poor wides.
IT Carlow, meanwhile, enjoyed no such luck from open play — their tally of 0-5 supplied by the dead-ball accuracy of Doughan and full-forward Kevin Kelly.
Kelly added three further frees early in the second-half, Chris Bolger registering their first score from play on 40 minutes. Though still seven in arrears, IT Carlow were slowly asserting their dominance — Aidan Fogarty and Ian Byrne now edging the midfield battle.
Kelly’s sixth free of the contest cut the gap to 1-13 to 0-10 and DJ Carey’s troops were desperately unlucky not to find the net thereafter, Jack Fagan’s kicked effort skidding off the wrong side of the crossbar. The visitors’ revival appeared over when full-back Michael Ryan hauled down David Dempsey inside the large parallelogram entering the final quarter — Reidy opting for a point from the penalty. His second-half contribution, along with that of Flaherty, allowed LIT remain out of touch, if not out of sight.
IT Carlow exhausted every avenue in their search for a goal, but the home defence, led by Ryan and Niall O’Connor, held firm. Their frustration in front of goal was compounded by Ian Byrne’s saved penalty on 55 minutes — no closer than four points would they come.
Scorers for LIT: D Reidy (1-8, 0-5 frees, 0-1 ’65, 0-1 pen); P Flaherty (0-3); B O’Connell, A Dempsey, J Campion, S O’Brien (0-1 each).
Scores for IT: Carlow: K Kelly (0-8, 0-8 frees); C Doughaan (0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 ‘65); J Fagan, C Bolger, G Keegan (0-1 each).
LIMERICK IT: A Murphy (Limerick); M Kiely (Limerick), N O’Connor (Clare), K Bennett (Waterford); W Ryan (Tipperary), B O’Connell (Limerick), S O’Halloran (Limerick); J Campion (Laois), A Dempsey (Limerick); M Fitzgerald (Kildare), S O’Brien (Limerick), P Flaherty (Galway); D Reidy (Clare), P Kileen (Galway), D Dempsey (Limerick).
Subs: P Fitzgerald (Clare) for M Fitzgerald (37 mins), M Gennery (Tipperary) for D Dempsey (52), S McGrath (Clare) for Campion (51).
IT CARLOW: C Clancy (Offaly); C Doyle (Kilkenny), M Ryan (Carlow), J Gannon (Kilkenny); W Young (Laois), C Doughan (Offaly), D Palmer (Laois); A Fogarty (Kilkenny), I Byrne (Wexford); M Kavanagh (Carlow), M Harney (Waterford), C Dwyer (Laois); J Fagan (Meath), K Kelly (Kilkenny), C Bolger (Kilkenny).
Subs: B Staunton (Kilkenny) for Palmer (HT), J Doyle (Carlow) for M Harney (42 mins), K Hannifin (Kerry) for Doyle (42), C Dunford (Waterford) for Kavanagh (48), G Keegan (Kildare) for Kelly (53).
Referee: A Kelly (Galway).