Mary Immaculate booked their place in the Fitzgibbon Cup quarter-final following a 4-24 to 1-19 win over Limerick Institute of Technology at the Mary I GAA Grounds.
It was an easier than expected victory for the hosts Mary I who were well on their way to the last eight before their opponents were reduced to 13 men.
Gary Cooney and Tim O’Mahony both had Mary I goals before Conor McCarthy received a straight red card by Cathal McAllister. And things went from bad to worse for LIT when Barry McDonagh was dismissed in first-half added time after receiving two yellow cards.
Despite the margin of victory, Mary I manager Jamie Wall was disappointed with their second-half display.
“The performance is a bit coloured by the second half where we were playing against 13 and I don’t think we played to our standards. It’s hard in that kind of scenario to stay at a certain level. We got a win and we are in a position to top the group next week against WIT, but we know that aspects of our performance in the second half weren’t good enough.”
Wall’s side had effectively killed off the game as a contest when scoring 2-6 without reply in a devastating 10 minute period.
Points from Eanna McBride, Andrew Ormond and Colin O’Brien had the hosts 0-5 to 0-2 ahead before Cooney fired in their first goal.
The Clare forward was hooked first time around, but kept his cool to flick a low shot past Ronan Tucker at the second attempt.
Points from Cathal Bourke and Colin O’Brien were then followed by Mary I’s second goal from O’Mahony – another finish from just outside the square.
Billy Seymour, Robert Byrnes and Michael Moloney kept fighting the LIT cause, but the red cards killed any hope of a comeback.
O’Brien and Ormond continued to find space to keep the scoreboard ticking over, while Bourke was unerring from placed balls.
Diarmuid Ryan also chipped in before the break to help Mary I hold a 2-13 to 0-7 half-time advantage.
LIT rejigged their system in the second half with Evan Fitzpatrick coming off the bench and he helped plug the gaps around the middle as well as popping up with two well-taken points.
However, Mary I upped the pace when required. A second Cooney goal and one from substitute Phillip Wall helped set up a mouth-watering home clash with Waterford IT on Thursday in their final group game. Whoever comes out on top of that will have a home quarter-final.
“From day one we knew WIT were going to be the strongest team of the group,” admitted Wall as he looks ahead to Thursday’s clash.
“They have fierce strength with the likes of Austin Gleeson and Stephen Condon from Cork. He may not be as well known as he is not playing inter county, but he is a super club hurler in Cork and has been very good for WIT throughout the years. We are well aware that they carry a lot of threats and are well stacked in other areas too. They came up and beat LIT in LIT by nine points and were missing a few players as well.
“We are under no illusions as to the size of the task with them. For both us and them, we would be happy enough to be playing each other in the third game and have gotten a couple of games under your belt. We are through to a quarter-final and it’s all to play for in that game and we will do our best to try and win it and top the group.”
Scorers for Mary I: G Cooney (2-3), C O’Brien, A Ormond and C Bourke (4f) (0-4 each), T O’Mahony and P Wall (1-0 each), E McBride (0-3), D Ryan (0-2), S Ryan, E Cahill, J Gillane (1f) and D Peters (0-1 each).
Scorers for LIT: B Seymour (0-6, 3f), R Byrnes (0-5, 1f, 1s/l), R Bonnar (1-1), M Moloney (0-3), E Fitzpatrick (0-2), D O’Connell and B Fanning (0-1 each).
MARY I: J Gillane; D Prendergast, C Morgan, D Browne; D Lohan, D Peters, D Ryan; E McBride, E Cahill; C Bourke, T O’Mahony, S Ryan; G Cooney, A Ormond, C O’Brien.
Subs: J Lacey for Lohan (50), P Wall for Bourke (53), M O’Loughlin for O’Brien (57).
LIMERICK IT: R Tucker; C McCarthy, D Moran, F Lordan; B Fanning, C Whelan, P Delaney; R Byrnes, M Moloney; R Doody, K Howard, B McDonagh; D O’Connell, R Bonnar, B Seymour.
Subs: E Fitzpatrick for Doody (h-t), I Murray for Bonnar (54), P O’Heney for Lordan (59).
Referee: C McAllister (Cork).