A resilient Cork IT were crowned All-Ireland Division 1 Fresher hurling champions at their own sports complex yesterday, bridging a seven-year gap since they last claimed back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009. They had to withstand a strong finish from the Dublin side, but a spectacular first-half goal from Liam O’Keeffe proved vital in the end.
The Kanturk man, who tallied 1-7, volleyed an amazing shot past Robbie Gillen after being put through by Kevin Duggan. Arriving towards the end of the first quarter, it handed the home side an advantage they would not relinquish. They went on to lead 1-6 to 0-6 at the interval. Crucially, Cork IT goalkeeper Patrick Collins pulled off a marvellous save from Harry O’Connor a few minutes before O’Keeffe’s superb strike.
After the restart, four points on the trot pushed Cork IT seven clear. But, Gary Tynan kept DCU in touch raising three unanswered white flags. The visitors rallied and during the fourth quarter they went on to outscore their opponents by four points to two. With five minutes remaining, they had cut the deficit to a mere two points.
In a hectic finish, Cork IT sub Billy Lyons who was just on the field, was fouled, and O’Keeffe made no mistake from in front of the posts.
DCU rained in a couple of long balls looking for an equalising goal but the Cork IT back line was equal to the task.
The Mardyke Cup was presented to winning captain Conor Browne – son of 12-times All-Ireland camogie medallist with Kilkenny, Angela Downey.
L O’Keeffe (1-7, six frees), A Molumby (0-3), S Cummins, R Heffernan and R Long (0-1 each).
G Tynan (0-4, one free), J Byrne (two frees) and H O’Connor (0-3 each), A Maddock (0-2), M Joyce (0-1)
P Collins (Ballinhassig, Cork); K Galvin (Clara, Kilkenny), D Fanning (Pallasgreen, Limerick), D Doheny (Tullaroan Kilkenny);E Healy (Ballymartle, Cork), C Prunty (Abbeyside, Ballinacourty, Waterford), J Buckley (Lixnaw, Kerry); C Browne (James Stephens, Kilkenny), R Heffernan (Clonoulty/Rossmore, Tipperary); A Molumby (Cappoquin, Waterford), K Duggan (Galmoy, Kilkenny), S Cummins (Ballymartle, Cork); R Long (Drom&Inch, Tipperary), P Geary (Ballymartle, Cork), L O’Keeffe (Kanturk, Cork).
J Good (Tracton, Cork) for P Geary (40), B Lyons (Causeway, Kerry) for S Cummins (59).
R Gillen (Cullion, Westmeath); C McSweeney (South Liberties, Limerick), S McCaw (St Vincent’s, Dublin), D Brennan (Carrickshock, Kilkenny); A Maddock (St Martin’s, Wexford), C Delaney (Erin’s Own, Kilkenny), C Brady (Faughs, Dublin); M Kelly (Blacks & Whites, Kilkenny), C Doran (Na Fianna, Dublin); J Byrne (Clara, Kilkenny), L Fahey (Rockwell Rovers, Tipperary), G Tynan (Danesfort, Kilkenny); H O’Connor (St Martin’s, Wexford), D O’Connor (Tullogher Rosbercon, Kilkenny), E Conroy (St Maurs, Dublin).
S Hickey (Fingallians, Dublin) for E Conroy (10), M Joyce (Glynn Barntown, Wexford) for M Kelly (26), S Quinn (Raharney, Westmeath) for D Brennan (35), P Kelly (Craobh Chiaráin, Dublin) for D O’Connor (40), A Murphy (Shelmaliers, Wexford) for S Hickey (55).
Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork).
- There were two other Higher Education deciders played last night with UCD teams successful in both. In WIT, UCD beat UCC 0-17 to 1-6 in the intermediate football final and in the junior hurling final at the Mardyke in Cork UCD also defeated UCC 1-9 to 0-10.