Two-goal John McGrath keeps UL on course to retain Fitzgibbon Cup

UL 3-14 UCD 0-16: A forceful second-half, complimented by two fine John McGrath goals, kept alive UL hopes of back-to-back Fitzgibbon Cup crowns for the first time.
Two-goal John McGrath keeps UL on course to retain Fitzgibbon Cup

But the Limerick University will need to beat Limerick rivals Mary I today — a team they’ve already dealt with this spring — 5-15 to 3-14 in the group stages.

Brian Lohan’s charges will also need to produce a much improved performance. The holders were a shadow of themselves in the opening period and were fortunate to be just two adrift at the break – 0-9 to 0-7 – as ‘keeper Paul Maher pulled off an excellent save to deny UCD’s Ross King.

Having stormed into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead inside four minutes – Tom Morrissey, John McGrath (free) and Cathal McInerney on target – the favourites simply dropped the tempo of their hurling for the remainder of the half.

UCD then struck six of the next seven scores in turning a two point deficit into a three point lead. Kilkenny senior James Maher (0-2), Dublin senior Colm Cronin, Padraic Guinan, Eoin Conroy and Oisin O’Rorke etching their names onto the scoresheet.

Full-forward Tom Morrissey, the sole UL player to swim against the tide in the opening period, clipped his third on 23 minutes to narrow the deficit and a John McGrath free in the subsequent action left the minimum between them. Still, there was never a sense of UL catching fire. And a pair of O’Rorke frees either side of half-time to restore UCD’s three point cushion – 0-10 to 0-7 – heightened talk of a surprise result.

On 36 minutes, colour returned to the cheeks of the UL players. McGrath flicked over a sideline cut and Morrissey added his fourth. A Jason Forde free was steered to the net by McGrath on 42 minutes and UL had turned on the ignition and sped past their opponents – 1-9 to 0-10. A further three minors arrived in quick succession and UL were almost out of sight.

UCD, in ending a 16 minute barren spell, countered with four unanswered points through O’Rorke (0-3 frees) and a third from Maher. Eight minutes remaining and a puck of the ball stood between them (1-12 to 0-14).

A contentious call by ref Cathal McAllister to penalise Conor O’Shea for what appeared a fairly solid tackle enabled McGrath nail his fourth free and wrestle momentum back from the Belfield side. Forde (free) and Guinan then swapped efforts, but it was game-over when McGrath plucked Conor Martin’s delivery from the sky and angled a low shot past ‘keeper Darragh Holohan. The Tipperary senior turned provider for sub Tommy Heffernan in the subsequent action; UL goal number three finally killing off plucky UCD.

Scorers for UL:

J McGrath (2-5, 0-4 frees); T Heffernan (1-1); T Morrissey (0-4); J Forde (0-3, 0-3 frees); C McInerney (0-1).

Scorers for UCD:

O O’Rorke (0-8, 0-7 frees); J Maher (0-3); P Guinan, C Cronin (0-2 each); E Conroy (0-1).


P Maher (Tipperary); S Roche (Leitrim-Kilnadeema), J Browne (Clare), G Ryan (Clare); B Heffernan (Tipperary), J Forde (Tipperary), B Stapleton (Tipperary); A McGuane (Clare), K Hehir (Clare); D Fitzgerald (Clare), J McGrath (Tipperary), C Martin (Kilkenny); K O’Brien (Limerick), T Morrissey (Limerick), C McInerney (Clare).


T Heffernan (Tipperary) for Fitzgerald (40 mins), A Murphy (Kilkenny) for McInerney (52), G Hegarty (Limerick) for Forde (60), PJ Scully (Laois) for Roche (61), B Maher (Tipperary) for Morrissey (62).


D Holohan (Kilkenny); P Hannon (Galway), S Murphy (Wexford), J Madden (Dublin); H Lawlor (Kilkenny), C O’Shea (Kilkenny), S Moran (Dublin); C O’Callaghan (Dublin), E Conroy (Wexford); J Maher (Kilkenny), C Cronin (Dublin), P Guinan (Offaly); O O’Rorke (Dublin), R King (Laois), C Devitt (Wexford).


J Malone (Dublin) for Con

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up