Westmeath star Niall O’Brien shines as DIT prevail

DIT 0-19 UCD 0-17: On the face of it this is a big boost for Dublin hurling as two colleges who have never reached the Fitzgibbon Cup final hammer it out in the semi-finals next week and the appearance of either DIT or DCU in the decider will be hailed in the capital.

Westmeath star Niall O’Brien shines as DIT prevail

But while DIT last night followed up the surprise win by DCU the previous day, perhaps the happiest manager in the country should be Westmeath’s Michael Ryan.

This DIT win in Belfield last night was fashioned by a team with five Westmeath players in the starting 15, with Niall O’Brien shooting the lights out with 0-13 and no misses in a perfect display of shooting.

Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher and Kilkenny’s Liam Blanchfield may have provided the big names to this DIT side, but it was O’Brien who led the way and his Westmeath colleague Niall Mitchell chipped in with two great scores in the opening half.

DJ Foran was UCD’s main scoring threat but they were far too dependent on the Waterford man, with county colleague Tadgh de Burca unable to inspire a rescue job in the closing minutes.

The win leaves DIT just 60 minutes away from a final showdown against either UL or IT Carlow and manager Derek Brennan said it was a huge boost to the GAA in the Grangegorman college.

“We have never been in the final, we are in new territory now with everything to play for,” said Brennan. “We beat Waterford in the Fitzgibbon this year, first time we ever won in Limerick, in UL this year in the league.

“We are just enjoying it. You could see the reaction. At times it seemed like we were playing at home. We have the big Dublin link there with the Setanta lads and everything else. It means so much but I will enjoy tonight and then I can worry about the rest of it,” he said.

The sides were level seven times in the opening 23 minutes in a tit-for-tat contest in ideal conditions at Belfield.

But it was clear from the early stages that UCD were far too dependent on DJ Foran for scores.

Yet they finished the half strongly to build up a 0-11 to 0-8 interval advantage.

And when Foran extended that gap shortly after the restart it seemed that UCD were poised for a semi-final showdown with DCU.

But DIT, with a rock solid defence, never panicked. Niall Walsh and O’Brien pointed and when Foran responded with another free for UCD, Fiontan McGibb, O’Brien and Robbie Greville hit the target to tie the game at 0-13 apiece after 40 minutes.

Two long-range points from Foran edged UCD back in front after another effort from O’Brien.

And it was DIT who pushed for home with three frees in succession from O’Brien to lead by 0-17 to 0-15 with eight minutes left.

A long-range point from de Burca left one between them again but while O’Brien and Luke Scanlon exchanged points, UCD couldn’t draw level and Dublin’s Conor Ryan sealed the win with a sideline from distance.

Scorers for DIT:

N O’Brien 0-11 (9f, 0-1 65), N Mitchell 0-2, C Ryan 0-1sl, L Blanchfield 0-1, R Greville 0-1, F McGibb 0-1, J McGuirke 0-1, N Walsh 0-1.

Scorers for UCD:

DJ Foran 0-13 (9f), J Maher 0-1, S Flanagan 0-1, T de Burca 0-1, L Scanlon 0-1

DIT:

P McKenna (Kildare); W Kavanagh (Wicklow), T Doyle (Westmeath), P Cass (Kilkenny); E Dunne (Dublin), D McNicholas (Westmeath), L Kelly (Dublin); J McGuirke (Dublin), R Greville (Westmeath); N Mitchell (Westmeath), P Maher (Tipperary), F McGibb (Dublin); N O’Brien (Westmeath), L Blanchfield (Kilkenny), C Ryan (Dublin).

Subs:

N Walsh (Kilkenny) for McGuirke (30).

UCD:

D Hughes (Wexford); B Quigley (Wexford), R Lennon (Kilkenny), G Molloy (Wexford); M Cody (Kilkenny), T de Burca (Waterford), P Guinan (Offaly); J Maher (Kilkenny), JJ Ryan (Tipperary); DJ Foran (Waterford), D Codd (Wexford), J Mullaney (Waterford); S Flanagan (Limerick), T Phelan (Kilkenny), P O’Connor (Waterford).

Subs:

L Scanlon (Kilkenny) for O’Connor (40), R Purcell (Tipperary) for Lennon (50).

Referee:

Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow).

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