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Niland scores 0-16 as NUIG hold off GMIT in epic to reach Fitzgibbon Cup final

GMIT forced the contest to extra-time with a late goal but they never led and were always chasing the game.

Evan Niland fired 0-16 (0-11 from frees) for NUIG. (file pic).
Evan Niland fired 0-16 (0-11 from frees) for NUIG. (file pic).
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

NUIG 1-26

GMIT 3-18

(after extra-time)

John Fallon reports from Pearse Stadium

NUIG HELD OFF the challenge of their Galway city neighbours to book a place in Saturday’s Fitzgibbon Cup final after a gripping contest in testing conditions at Pearse Stadium.

GMIT, hoping to reach their first final, forced the contest to extra-time with a late goal but they never led and were always chasing the game.

NUIG, playing with the wind, led by 1-15 to 1-6 at the break, with Evan Niland leading the way with 0-7, three of them from play.

NUIG opened up a 0-6 to 0-3 lead after nine minutes before GMIT hit back and Kevin Cooney finished to the net.

NUIG, with Hurler of the Year Cian Lynch prominent, responded with points from Oisin Flannery and Niland before Cooney hit back for GMIT.

Then Lynch saw an effort for a point come back off a post and Fionn McDonagh pounced to set up John Fleming and he blasted to the net to lead by 1-8 to 1-4 after 20 minutes and they led by nine at the break.

Two points from Fionn McDonagh and another from Niland in response to one from Conor Gardiner extended NUIG’s lead to 1-18 to 1-7 five minutes after the restart.

But GMIT rallied with three points in a row from Cooney, Gardiner and Luke Prendergast to cut the gap to eight and while Niland hit back with a brace, GMIT struck again with five in succession to get within a goal.

Another free from Niland seven minutes from time looked to be enough but Cooney cut the gap to three with a free heading into four minutes of stoppage time.

And then in the final minute of stoppage time a free from goalkeeper Darrach Fahy dropped in front of goal and Jack Forde reacted quickest in the scramble to flash a shot to the net and send the tie to extra-time.

GMIT had the wind in the opening half of extra-time but they shot three wides and failed to score with it, while NUIG edged in front with two frees from Niland to by 1-23 to 3-15 at the break.

GMIT twice got it back to a point in the final segment but NUIG did enough to hold on and book their place in the final after an epic contest.

Scorers: NUIG: Evan Niland 0-16 (11f), John Fleming 1-2, Mark Kennedy 0-2, Cian Lynch 0-2, Fionn McDonagh 0-2, Jack Fitzpatrick 0-1, Oisin Flannery 0-1.

GMIT: Kevin Cooney 1-10 (0-10f), Enda Egan 1-0, Jack Forde 1-0, Conor Gardiner 0-2, Luke Prendergast 0-1, Sean McDonagh 0-1, AJ Willis 0-1, Paddy Commins 0-1, Cianan Fahy 0-1, Adam Clarke 0-1.

NUIG

(All Galway unless stated):

1 Liam O’Reilly;

2 Eoin Lawless, 3 Jack Fitzgerald, 4 Conor Caulfield;

5 Caimin Killeen, 6 Darren Morrissey (Sarsfields), 7 Mark Gill;

30 Oisin Flannery, 9 Diarmuid Kilcommins;

10 Conor Walsh, 11 Cian Lynch (Limerick), 12 Fionn McDonagh;

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26 Mark Kennedy, 14 John Fleming, 15 Evan Niland.

Subs: 25 Paddy Dunleavy (Dublin) for Morrissey, 8 Ian McGlynn for Flannery (54), 24 Cian Salmon for McDonagh (54), 13 Phillip Hickey for Kilcommins (67), 22 Daniel Loftus for Dunleavy (71), 28 Adrian Prendergast for Walsh (83), 23 Liam Forde for Kennedy (87).

GMIT (All Galway unless stated):

1 Darrach Fahy;

4 Luke Prendergast, 3 Seán Neary, 2 Kieran Meehan;

5 Jack Forde, 6 Cianán Fahy, 7 Adam Clarke;

14 Aaron O’Shaughnessy, 9 Donal Mannion;

12 Conor Gardiner, 13 AJ Willis (Tipperary), 8 Patrick Foley;

10 Kevin Cooney, 11 Seán McDonagh, 23 Paddy Commins.

Subs: 15 Enda Egan for Willis (half-time), 19 Peter Martin for Mannion (67), 21 Evan Duggan for Commins (67), 20 Darren Duggan for O’Shaughnessy (69), 22 Evan Hunt for Meehan (79), Commins for Egan (85).

Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway).

About the author:

John Fallon

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