IT Carlow 2-20 UCC 1-20 (AET): Stephen Maher hit 11 points as IT Carlow reached their first Fitzgibbon Cup final at the expense of UCC in Dangan.
UCC did well to force extra-time in Galway after John Power’s goal and two Michael Breen points, but DJ Carey’s outfit powered on in extra-time and Colin Dunford’s goal nine minutes from time helped them on their way.
It was a super performance from the midland students, who looked the hungrier side for the most part, and with Maher in fine form from placed balls they never trailed to the Cork university.
A goal form Kevin Kelly four minutes from the end of normal time looked to have sealed the win for IT Carlow, but UCC showed great spirit to send the game to extra-time. But they had no answer to Maher’s free taking and Dunford’s goal, as they reached tomorrow’s decider at Pearse Stadium.
A Rob O’Shea point got UCC off the mark a minute later, but IT Carlow hit three points in row from Maher, Martin Kavanagh and Chris Bolger to lead 0-4 to 0-1 after 11 minutes.
O’Shea halted IT Carlow’s run with a point, but DJ Carey’s side had an impressive response and Maher and Bolger hit two points in a minute to stretch their lead to four.
Playing into a strong wind UCC were forced to rely on long range shots, mainly because the quality of IT Carlow’s tackling in numbers was so effective.
But the Cork students hit three frees – two from O’Shea and one from Anthony Spillane – to pull within one of their rival by the midway point. But Maher was on form from placed balls, while points from Kavanagh and the impressive Fagan meant they lead by 0-10 to 0-8 at the interval.
The respective number 15 hit points of their teams to start the second-half, but a couple of Maher frees gave IT Carlow a significant 0-13 to 0-9 lead by the 36th minute.
But UCC again came back strongly with four in a row to level the game 0-13 each by the 51st minute – three of those points came from O’Shea.
At the other end Maher and Bolger pushed IT Carlow two points ahead with six minutes remaining, but things got even better for the midlanders when Kevin Kelly hit the net with four minutes to go.
UCC looked a beaten side with that goal, but three minutes later John Power hit back with a goal for the Cork side, while two Breen points levelled the game and sent it to extra-time.
You might have expected that UCC would then power on to the win, but IT Carlow showed huge spirit, fought for every ball and two more Maher points and one from Kelly meant they led by one, 1-18 to 1-17 at the midway point.
But they key score of the game came in the first-minute of the second period. Martin Kavanagh was brilliant in the build up, and his long handpass sent Dunford in on goal, and he made no error from close range. UCC did reply with a couple of points, but each time they did Maher and Bolger hit back to clinch victory.
Scorers for IT Carlow: S Maher 0-11 (6f, 2’65), C Bolger 0-4, K Kelly 1-1, C Dunford 1-0, M Kavanagh 0-2, J Fagan 0-1, E Rowland 0-1 (1f).
Scorers for UCC: R O’Shea 0-7 (5f), M Breen 0-5, J Power 1-1, A Spillane 0-2, J Barron 0-2, A Cadagon 0-1, M O’Connor 0-1, T Devine 0-1.
IT Carlow: E Rowland (Laois); D Palmer (Laois), K Hannaffin (Kerry), R Brown (Waterford); J Doyle (Carlow), D Healy (Meath), D O’Hanlon (Tipeprary); K Kelly (Kilkenny), C Dunford (Waterford); C Dwyer (Laois), M Russell (Tipperary), M Kavanagh (Carlow); J Fagan (Waterford), S Maher (Laois), C Bolger (Kilkenny).
Subs: T Nolan (Tipperary) for Dunford (58), C Dunford for Nolan (60), T Nolan for Fagan (66), J Fagan for Kelly (75), M Redmond (Wexford) for Maher (75).
UCC: J Berry (Cork); I Kenny (Waterford), C Spillane (Cork), S Roche (Waterford); S Kennedy (Tipperary), C Gleeson (Waterford), R Cahalane (Cork); J Barron (Waterford), M Breen (Tipperary); M O’Brien (Waterford), T Devine (Waterford), G O’Brien (Waterford); A Cadagon (Cork), A Spillane (Cork), R O’Shea (Cork).
Subs: J Power (Kilkenny) for G O’Brien (h-t), C O’Leary (Cork) for M O’Brien (39), M O’Halloran (Cork) for S Roche (39), C Roche (Waterford) for Spillane (57), M O’Connor (Cork) for Cahalane (67), S Hegarty (Cork) for Power (78).
Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath).
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