Mary Immaculate College 1-30
University of Limerick 3-22
Fintan O’Toole reports from Cork IT
A CLASSIC FITZGIBBON Cup final this afternoon that needed 30 minutes of extra-time eventually concluded with Mary Immaculate College winning the title for the first time.
Three years after losing in their first final appearance, Mary I amends here as they saw off UL in a terrific encounter.
The game finished level at 1-18 to 3-12 at the end of normal time, it was 1-27 to 3-21 at the end of extra-time before eventually Mary I surged clear in the additional period of extra-time.
Darragh O’Donovan nailed a free in the 88th minute to put Mary I in front before Cian Lynch added the insurance score to seal Mary I’s two-point victory.
There were heroes all over the pitch for Mary I. Lynch fittingly hit the final score and he dovetailed with man-of-the-match Declan Hannon to devastating effect in their attack. The Limerick senior duo weighed in with 1-17 between them but Limerick teammate David Reidy and Galway’s Sean Linnane also shone in the scoring stakes.
At the back Ronan Maher’s influence grew as the game progressed and switching him on to Tipperary teammate John McGrath was a critical move in normal time by the Mary I management.
John Meagher also stood tall in the Mary I defence and during a late barrage of UL pressure as Mary I clung to a two-point lead, it was Meagher who made one vital intervention as UL pressed for a goal.
UL went desperately close to retaining their title as they battled back to parity on several occasions. John McGrath, who hit 2-5 in the semi-final, again sparkled as he struck 2-7 and substitute Tommy Heffernan made a massive impact as he bagged 0-6.
The teams were tied at 1-6 to 0-9 at the half-time in normal time with Tom Morrissey netting for UL after fine approach work by McGrath. Hannon kept Mary I in touch with his relentless accuracy from placed balls.
Mary I got an early boost in the second-half when Hannon burst through to lash an unstoppable shot past UL goalkeeper Paul Maher, who was excellent throughout.
UL quickly responded with McGrath firing home a goal via the upright but Mary I gained the upper hand to go in front 1-15 to 2-8 entering the final quarter.
Then UL wiped out that lead with McGrath striking a shot against the upright before he bundled home the rebound and then pointing to bring the sides level. Mary I wrestled back the initiative and a terrific point by Meagher in the 56th minute sent them 1-18 to 3-10 clear.
McGrath pegged them back with a pointed free for UL and then the last play of the game in normal time saw Heffernan prove UL’s saviour with a skilful point.
In extra-time the action continued to ebb and flow. The teams shared 11 points in the first period of extra-time with UL in front 3-18 to 1-23 by the 70th minute.
Mary I responded again with Reidy excelling and he was aided by scores from Hannon and Stephen Cahill. It looked like Mary I would seal the deal when they edged in front by 1-27 to 3-19.
Heffernan trimmed the deficit that UL faced and then referee James Owens awarded a contentious late free – much to the anger of the Mary I contingent – to UL. McGrath obliged with the point and after 80 minutes, there was still no separating the teams.
Despite fatigue setting in all over the pitch, the teams continued to contest the exchanges with a feverish intensity. Lynch and Heffernan traded points to see it 3-22 to 1-28 by the 85th minute.
It appeared like a replay might be on the cards but Mary I timed their finishing burst to perfection with O’Donovan and Lynch grabbing the crucial points to deliver victory and prompt huge scenes of celebration.
Scorers for Mary Immaculate College: Declan Hannon 1-12 (0-9f), Cian Lynch 0-5, Sean Linnane, Darragh O’Donovan (0-1f), David Reidy 0-3 each, Tadhg Gallacher, John Meagher, Stephen Cahill, Darragh Corry 0-1 each.
Scorers for UL: John McGrath 2-7 (0-5f, 0-1 65), Tommy Heffernan 0-6, Tom Morrissey 1-1, Conor Martin, Kevin Hehir, Aidan McGuane 0-2 each, Jason Forde, Cathal McInerney 0-1 each.
Mary Immaculate College
1. Maidhc O Conghaile (Micheal Breathnach, Galway)
2. Eoin Quirke (Whitegate, Clare)
3. Richie English (Doon, Limerick)
4. Andrew Ryan (Toomevara, Tipperary)
5. Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields, Tipperary)
6. Thomas Stapleton (Templederry Kenyons, Tipperary)
7. John Meagher (Loughmore-Castleiney, Tipperary)
8. Colm Galvin (Clonlara, Clare)
9. Darragh O’Donovan (Doon, Limerick)
17. Sean Linnane (Turloughmore, Galway)
11. Cian Lynch (Patrickswell, Limerick)
15. Darragh Corry (Tulla, Clare)
13. David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca, Limerick)
14. Declan Hannon (Adare, Limerick)
10. Niall O’Meara (Kilruane McDonaghs, Tipperary)
18. Mickey O’Neill (Kilmaley, Clare) for Galvin (inj) (41)
27. Tadhg Gallagher (Kildangan, Tipperary) for Corry (50)
12. Stephen Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields, Tipperary) for O’Donovan (54)
15. Corry for Quirke (60)
28. Seamus Kennedy (St Mary’s, Tipperary) for Linnane (62)
9. O’Donovan for O’Meara (inj) (70)
17. Linnane for Gallagher (75)
27. Gallagher for Hannon (inj) (80)
1. Paul Maher (Moyne-Templetuohy, Tipperary)
4. Stephen Roche (Kilnadeema-Leitrim, Galway)
3. Jack Browne (Ballyea, Clare)
26. Gearoid Ryan (Clarecastle, Clare)
24. Barry Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg, Tipperary)
6. Jason Forde (Silvermines, Tipperary)
7. Brian Stapleton (Templederry Kenyons, Tipperary)
5. Aidan McGuane (Kilmaley, Clare)
8. Kevin Hehir (Inagh-Kilnamona, Clare)
23. David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona, Clare)
13. John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney, Tipperary)
12. Conor Martin (Emeralds, Kilkenny)
14. Kevin O’Brien (Patrickswell, Limerick)
11. Tom Morrissey (Ahane, Limerick)
15. Cathal McInerney (Cratloe, Clare)
18. Tommy Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg) for Fitzgerald (41)
6. Gearoid Hegarty (St Patrick’s, Limerick) for Stapleton (43)
25. Alan Murphy (Glenmore, Kilkenny) for O’Brien (57)
2. Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh, Limerick) for Hehir (61)
20. Pat Ryan (Doon, Limerick) for Forde (61)
9. Bill Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash, Tipperary) for McGuane (73)
19. PJ Scully (Borris-in-Ossory Kilcotton, Laois) for Murphy (85)
Referee: James Owens (Wexford)