Cathal Dunbar scored a goal in each half as a powerful second period from IT Carlow kept their dreams of a first Fitzgibbon Cup title alive as they reached the final with victory over Mary Immaculate at DCU Sportsgrounds.
Mary I led by a point at the interval with Cathal Bourke’s free-taking the highlight, but Stephen Bergin and Liam Blanchfield turned the game on its head with two goals in the space of a minute, while Dunbar and Chris Nolan added injury-time goals to wrap up the win.
A powerful, diagonal wind played havoc with the action early on and it took some time for the teams to come to grips with it. IT Carlow had any advantage there was and they raced into a 0-3 to 0- lead after four minutes.
Shane Ryan got the Limerick side off the mark, a Bourke free was cancelled out by a fine Richie Leahy effort at the other end. The next three points were scored by Mary I as Bourke twice mastered the wind, before Clare’s Gary Cooney drilled over a great score from long range to make it 0-5 to 0-4.
Cooney then almost laid on a goal for Andrew Ormond, but the corner forward batted inched wide, and after Rowland landed the first of two long range frees for IT Carlow, scores from Bourke and Cooney gave Mary I a two-point lead.
It appeared that the Limerick college had figured out IT Carlow at that stage, but seven minutes from the break the game turned again when Dunbar struck his first goal.
Mary I’s reply was powerful though and Bourke scored the last three points of the half to give them a 0-11 to 1-7 interval lead.
It only took IT Carlow two minutes to level after the restart but with Tim O’Mahony becoming an ever increasing force in the game Mary I reclaimed the lead, but it all changed in the space of a minute.
Midway through the second half Dunbar’s shot was saved by Gillane but Bergin poked it over the line. A minute later Blanchfield was hooked following his brilliant high catch, but he whipped a ground stroke to the net to put IT Carlow 3-10 to 0-14 ahead.
IT Carlow continued to build their lead with Casey frees, while Kelly and Eoin Gaughan made sure of their place in the final with late points, and the late goals in added time inflicted further pain on Mary I.
E Rowland (0-2, 2f); F Hayes, S Downey, S Reck; P Delaney, J Cleere, M Harney (D Wall 60); R Leahy (0-2), L Scanlon; C Nolan (1-1), J Kelly (0-2), C Dunbar (2-0); R Higgins (S Bergin (1-0) 42), L Blanchfield (1-0) (E Gaughan (0-1) 55), S Casey (0-6, 4f) (T Nolan 61).
J Gillane; R McCormack, D Prendergast, E McBride; C Morgan, D Browne, E Cahill (M O’Loughlin 59); D Ryan, J Considine; C Bourke (0-9, 8f, 1’65) (P Wall 55), G Cooney (0-2), S Ryan (0-1); A Ormond, T O’Mahony (0-3, 2f), C O’Brien (A Ennis 54).
J Keenan (Wicklow).