IT was truly atrocious weather for hurling in the Mardyke yesterday afternoon, but the glittering hurling skills of Joe Canning managed to illuminate this Fitzgibbon Cup Group A clash.
The Galway star produced an attacking masterclass as he racked up a stunning 3-8 total and his early goalscoring spree settled this match in LIT’s favour before it had even reached the midway mark. UCC had no answer to his brilliance, but Canning was in one of those irrepressible moods that will always lead to torturous hours for opposing defences.
From the outset, LIT looked sharp and they were determined to properly harness the benefits of the gale that was at their backs in the first-half. In Canning they had a talisman in hot form and he delivered three killer blows to UCC’s challenge in the opening period.
The first came in the fifth minute, when Seamus Callinan sent a perceptive pass forward and Canning smashed home a fierce drive off his left. Seven minutes later he pounced again, when Sean Tobin spotted him unperturbed near goal and Canning drove a low shot across UCC goalkeeper Matthew Collins to the far corner.
The hat-trick was complete before the interval when Canning mugged UCC full-back Richie Foley in possession on the right flank, dashed in towards goal and emphatically finished to the net. Aside from that, Canning’s free-taking provided another regular source of scores for LIT while Niall Quinn, Willie Hyland, Sean Tobin and Nicky O’Connell all chipped in with a point apiece in the opening-half.
UCC failed to score from play in the opening period though and were reliant on a trio of Eoghan Murphy frees to generate scoreboard activity. They were unfortunate on a couple of occasions though with Moylan twice looking to have been blatantly fouled only for play to be waved on.
Trying to retrieve a 3-7 to 0-3 deficit was always going to be tough for UCC entering the second-half action but they needed a lightning scoring burst early on.
Instead, Canning upped the stakes once more firing over two absolute gems from the left wing and a monster ’65 conversion. Trailing by 16 points UCC’s flagging challenge was boosted when Murphy bundled a shot to the net, and their best forward on the day, Shane Burke, engineered space to clip two points as well.
By the close of the third quarter they were 3-11 to 1-5 adrift but that was as close as they got, finding the LIT rearguard stubborn and unyielding. As coach Davy Fitzgerald plots the rest of LIT’s campaign, he’ll be heartened that his team have some outstanding defenders to complement the genius of Canning at the other end of the pitch.
UCC introduced Kilkenny’s Bill Beckett, a key figure in their success last year, and Clare U21 talisman Darach Honan to bolster their attack during the second-half but they could not tap into a steady stream of scores. Instead, LIT were able to close out the game convincingly with late points by Callinan and Bernard Gaffney.
Scorers for LIT: J Canning 3-8 (0-4f, 0-1 ’65), N Quinn, W Hyland, S Tobin, N O’Connell (0-1f), S Callinan, B Gaffney 0-1 each.
UCC: E Murphy 1-3 (0-3f), S Burke 0-2, S Moylan 0-1 (0-1f).
LIT: M Ryan (Tipperary); J Gunning (Clare), C Cooney (Clare), C Chaplin (Clare); N O’Connell (Clare), J McInerney (Clare), R Sherlock (Tipperary); P O’Brien (Limerick), S Collins (Clare); W Hyland (Laois), S Callinan (Tipperary), N Quinn (Galway); S Tobin (Limerick), J Canning (Galway), B Gaffney (Clare).
Subs: J O’Keeffe (Tipperary) for Sherlock (55), T Dalton (Tipperary) for Cooney (57), P Browne (Limerick) for Canning (60).
UCC: M Collins (Cork); C O’Sullivan (Cork), R Foley (Waterford), C O’Driscoll (Cork); A Quilligan (Clare), K Hartnett (Cork), J Jordan (Cork); B O’Sullivan (Limerick), M Cahill (Tipperary); S Burke (Tipperary), R White (Cork), J Halbert (Cork); S Moylan (Cork), E Murphy (Cork), L O’Farrell (Cork).
Subs: B Beckett (Kilkenny) for White (half-time), D Honan (Clare) for Murphy (41), E Martin (Wexford) for Cahill (44), G Mulcahy (Limerick) for Halbert (53), S Corry (Cork) for Quilligan (60).
Referee: Cathal McAlister (Cork)
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