The semi-final pairing is a repeat of last year’s clash which the Dublin side took at a canter, 4-12 to 1-9, before going on to win the competition outright the following afternoon.
Ten of the UL side to feature in Jordanstown started yesterday’s quarter-final, but there is a greater balance to this year’s team which has been strengthened by the addition at full-back of Cork footballer John Mullins, Pearse Lillis at wing-back and Kerry pair, Brendan O’Keeffe and Michael Geaney in the half-forward line.
Fergal Boland, who made his league debut for Mayo at Castlebar last Saturday and proved, alongside team-mate Gearóid Hegarty, the most influential player on either side yesterday, had the hosts in front within 20 seconds.
DIT settled through Killian O’Gara and while a couple of scoreable frees went a begging, the visitors had moved 0-6 to 0-2 clear by the 20th minute as Liam Irwin (two frees), Conor Madden, Ciarán Thompson and Glenn O’Reilly split the posts.
The Dublin outfit, however, would add to their tally on only one more occasion in the remaining 40 minutes.
The Limerick students assumed control approaching the break and were desperately unlucky not to raise a green flag as three goal chances came to nothing.
DIT defender Shane Clayton took Fergal Boland’s effort off the line, Gearóid Hegarty was bottled up as he went to pull the trigger and, in the ensuing passage, the same player shot narrowly wide.
Michael Geaney was also off target, but Brian Carson’s charges continued undeterred and were rewarded for their endeavour with four-in-a-row before the call for half-time – Brendan O’Keeffe (free), Niall McDermott (free), Hegarty and Shane Ryan levelling proceedings at 0-6 apiece.
Liam Irwin stroked over his third free within two minutes of the restart to nudge DIT back in front.
The visiting party would create plenty of chances thereafter, but five second-half wides put paid to their attacking efforts.
Niall McDermott tied matters in the 33rd minute and another 10 minutes would pass before a flag of any description was raised — Fergal Boland applying the finishing touch to a flowing move involving Shane Ryan and Denis Daly.
At the other end, three different free-takers tried their hand, unsuccessfully so, from the dead ball.
Their frustration was further compounded when Killian O’Gara’s rasping goal shot rattled the UL crossbar.
The outstanding Hegarty put two between the teams eight minutes from time and UL were assured of a second successive appearance at the finals weekend when Geaney landed the insurance score.
B O’Keeffe (0-2 frees), N McDermott (0-2 frees), G Hegarty, F Boland (0-2 each); M Geaney, S Ryan (0-1 each).
L Irwin (0-3, 0-3 frees); G O’Reilly, C Thompson, C Madden, K O’Gara (0-1 each).
C O’Driscoll (Cork); C Long (Kerry), J Mullins (Cork), D Brosnan (Kerry); P White (Limerick), L Boland (Tipperary), P Lilis (Clare); G Hegarty (Limerick), C Sheehan (Limerick); F Boland (Mayo), M Geaney (Kerry), B O’Keeffe (Kerry); S Ryan (Kerry), D Daly (Kerry), N McDermott (Cavan).
S Courtney (Kerry) for Brosnan (23 mins); C O’Dea (Clare) for Ryan (57); J Naughton (Limerick) for McDermott (60).
L Molloy (Dublin); S Clayton (Dublin), C McGill (Meath), L Hughes (Longford); G O’Reilly (Dublin), A Waters (Dublin), E Flanagan (Cavan); T Corcoran (Roscommon), C O’Shea (Mayo); C Kavanagh (Kildare), C Thompson (Donegal), G Guilfoyle (Offaly); L Irwin (Mayo), C Madden (Cavan), K O’Gara (Dublin).
D McAllister (Monaghan) for Madden (40); R Scott (Antrim) for Thompson (58, bc).
J Molloy (Galway).