By Eoghan Cormican, Gaelic Grounds
UL 3-12 WIT 0-21
Corner-back Tom Fox's point on 80 minutes ensured this dramtic Fitzgibbon Cup final would require a second day out.
Stephen Bennett's goal on 72 minutes for UL looked to be the defining score. No one told WIT, playing their third game in five days, as they rattled four on the trot to bring the sides level.
Points from Pauric Mahony and Jake Dillon moved WIT clear in the first period of extra-time, but they were reeled in by a Jason Forde goal.
Tony Kelly had initially rescued UL, converting a difficult free two minutes into time added on to force extra-time.
The game appeared to have slipped from their grasp when WIT substitute Johnny Hayes struck his third point on 60 minutes. It marked WIT's fifth unanswered minor as they had assumed complete control.
Tommy Heffernan's goal on 32 minutes had nudged UL 1-6 to 0-5 clear, but they failed to build on the green flag. The decision also to substitute John McGrath on 49 minutes robbed them of their leading forward.
Following Pauric Mahony’s third free which reduced the gap to 1-7 to 0-9, Jake Dillon had an opportunity to level matters.
He fluffed his chance, getting caught between two minds as a goal was a possibility. UL swept down the field and Cathal McInerney pointed to swing the pendulum back in their favour.
Tony Kelly and Jason Frode tacked on further minors in the subsequent action to stretch their lead back out to three, 1-10 to 0-10. From there WIT launched a remarkable comeback effort.
All the more remarkable when you consider they returned to the dressing room at half-time trailing 0-6 to 0-4 despite having been supported by the elements in a lifeless opening 30 minutes.
UL’s Jason Forde was pulled from their half-forward line to act as a sweeper in front of full-back Brian Troy and Forde was most effective in cutting out the supply of ball feeding into WIT talisman Austin Gleeson.
Indeed, such was Forde’s presence that Colm Bonnar was forced to move Gleeson out the field in a bid to revive their flailing effort.
John McGrath signalled UL’s early intent with three points on the hop and 10 minutes had elapsed before Harry Kehoe registered Waterford’s first.
Kevin O’Brien and Tommy Heffernan kept WIT at arm’s length - Thomas Hamill, a Pauric Mahony free and an Austin Gleeson sideline cut bringing the WIT tally to a measly 0-4 by 8pm. It didn’t get much better thereafter.
Scorers for UL: J McGrath (0-5, 0-3 frees), T Heffernan (1-1); J Forde (1-1);S Bennett (1-0); T Kelly (0-2, 0-1 free); K O'Brien, C McInerney, PJ Scully (0-1 each).
Scorers for WIT: P Mahony (0-8, 0-5 frees, 0-1 65); J Hayes (0-3); J Dillon (0-2); T Fox (0-2); M O'Neill (0-2); A Gleeson (0-2, 0-1 sc); H Kehoe, T Hamill (0-1 each).
UL: P Maher (Tipperary); G Ryan (Clare), B Troy (Kilkenny), E Moriarty (Kilkenny); D Quinn (Tipperary), D McInerney (Clare), B Stapleton (Tipperary); D Morrissey (Limerick), T Kelly (Clare); C Martin (Kilkenny), J McGrath (Tipperary), J Forde (Tipperary); K O’Brien (Limerick), C McInerney (Clare), T Heffernan (Tipperary).
Subs: S Bennett (Waterford) for J McGrath (49), PJ Scully (Laois) for C McInernery (56), M Carmody (Limerick) for O'Brien (68), A McGuane (Clare) for Martin (75).
WIT: D Stapleton (Limerick); T Fox (Tipperary), G Teehan (Kilkenny), J Maher (Waterford); T Hamill (Tipperary), M O’Neill (Waterford), O McGrath (Kilkenny); J Langton (Kilkenny), S Roche (Waterford); H Kehoe (Wexford), P Mahony (Waterford), G O’Brien (Waterford); L McGrath (Tipperary), A Gleeson (Waterford), J Dillon (Waterford).
Subs: J Hayes (Kilkenny) for L McGrath (49 mins), C O'Brien (Cork) for Gleeson (78).
Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).