Despite the best efforts of the outstanding Cian Darcy, University of Limerick suffered defeat at the hands of an impressive DCU side in a tense Fitzgibbon Cup Group A clash at St Clare’s.
Darcy ended the contest with a remarkable haul of 0-15, including five superb scores from open play. Limerick attacker Kyle Hayes was also a livewire presence for the Munster men, who were champions at this grade just two years ago.
However, DCU full-forward Donal Burke proved to be a thorn in the side of UL throughout and his final tally of 13 points went a long way towards swinging the result in the hosts’ favour. Ahead of next Sunday’s trip to Maynooth University, the Metropolitan outfit find themselves on the brink of reaching the knockout stages of the competition.
UL, on the other hand, will earn a shot at redemption when they welcome Trinity College Dublin to their home grounds on the same day.
With Darcy and Hayes — a key figure in the Treaty county’s march to the Liam McCarthy Cup in 2018 — in fine form, the six-time winners raced three points clear on 11 minutes. DCU soon discovered a more familiar rhythm in attack, though, and visibly grew in confidence the longer the action developed.
Dublin’s Burke ended the opening period with 0-6 to his name and it was his stoppage-time free that edged DCU in front at the break (0-9 to 0-8). The elusive Darcy — one of six Tipperary men in the UL team — swiftly restored parity on the restart and there was little to separate the sides throughout the third-quarter.
Yet, unanswered points courtesy of Burke (two), Fergal Whitely and Kilkenny star John Donnelly subsequently provided DCU with significant breathing space. Darcy continued to lead the charge for UL, but they ultimately couldn’t rein in the Metropolitan challenge.
Half-back Brian Ryan added his second point of the game on 59 minutes before an outstanding Burke effort on the right-wing finally sealed a deserved triumph for DCU.
Scorers for DCU: D Burke (0-13, 11 frees); B Ryan, F Whitely (0-2 each); D Reck, C Firman, J Donnelly, R O’Connor (0-1 each).
Scorers for University of Limerick: C Darcy (0-15, 10 frees); K Hayes (0-2); R Hayes (0-1).
DCU: O Foley; L Gannon, P Smyth, J Curran; B Ryan, C Burke, D Gray; D Reck, C Firman; F Whitely, R O’Connor, J Donnelly; C Hearne, J Burke, D Burke.
Subs: C Prendiville for Hearne (48), J Ryan for Reck (56), J Roberts for Firman, D O’Brien for D Burke (both 62).
UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK: B Hogan; C O’Callaghan, M Carey, E Gunning; P Campion, B O’Mara, R Lynch; B McGrath, J Shelly; R Hayes, K Hayes, P O’Loughlin; R Considine, C Darcy, B Power.
Subs: K McDermott for McGrath (40), S Neville for Power (45), K McDonald for Lynch (52), J Kenny for Considine, O Flannery for R Hayes (both 55).
Referee: J Owens (Wexford).