Fitzgibbon Cup: IT Carlow stun UCC for first final berth

24 February 2017

IT Carlow's Stephen Maher with Jamie Barron and Conor Gleeson of UCC during the Fitzgibbon Cup semi final at Dangan, Galway

IT Carlow 2-20
UCC 1-20
(After extra time)  

Colin Dunford’s goal in the second-half of extra time saw IT Carlow cause a huge shock against UCC in the first of today’s Fitzgibbon Cup semi-finals at Dangan.

DJ Carey’s side paved the path to their college’s first final appearance in the competition by never trailing in this contest, as Laois star Stephen Maher kept the scoreboard ticking over with an impressive return of 0-11 over the 80 minutes.

The victors looked to have their win sealed with Kilkenny’s Kevin Kelly hitting the net for them with five minutes to go, but as they led by four in the closing stages UCC mounted a late rally which reaped them 1-1 to force extra time.

Maher’s deadly accuracy was what saw the Carlow lads lead by one at the half and in the last period Carlow forward Dunford landed the crucial blow in the 72nd minute, which his opponents simply couldn’t come back from.

The Carlow students had ushered themselves 0-4 to 0-1 in front after the opening 10 minutes, with points from Maher (1 ‘65’ and 1 free), Martin Kavanagh and Chris Bolger outweighing Rob O’Shea’s effort at the other end.

Bolger and Maher stretched the lead to five prior to UCC eventually finding their rhythm thanks to a pair of frees from O’Shea and points from Michael Breen and Anthony Spillane.

Kavanagh and Jack Fagan kept Carey’s charges three in front but Breen and Cork’s Alan Cadogan weighed in with singles of their own before IT Carlow’s keeper Enda Rowland sent over a spectacular free from long range, leaving it at 0-10 to 0-8 for the interval.

Two Maher frees had the winners picking up where they’d left off early in the restart but the favourites in this one weren’t willing to go away, drawing themselves level on 51 minutes via frees from O’Shea (2) and Waterford star Jamie Barron.

Carey's underdogs responded in the best possible manner, sneaking in behind their opponents read guard and feeding Kelly to fire home the game’s first goal.

Maher added a point for good measure but it took all of two minutes for the Cork students to cut through and grab a goal of their own from John Power and two late scores from Breen meant two extra periods.

The imperious Maher, who had the chance to win it in normal time with a missed ‘65’, opened the extra time scoring and closed it in the first-half to give his side a 1-18 to 1-17 lead at the short break.

Barron squared things again early in the resumption but the decisive strike was soon to follow and it was Carlow ace Dunford that landed it to peg the Cork lads back by three, and when Maher and Bolger followed up with quick points Carey’s men’s path to the final was confirmed.

IT Carlow - E Rowland (0-1f); D Palmer, K Hannafin, R Brown; J Doyle, D Healy, D O’Hanlon; K Kelly (1-1), C Dunford (1-0); C Dwyer, M Russell, M Kavanagh (0-2); J Fagan (0-1), S Maher (0-11, 6f, 2'65), C Bolger (0-4). Subs: T Nolan for C Dunford, C Dunford for T Nolan, T Nolan for J Fagan, J Fagan for K Kelly, M Redmond for S Maher.

UCC - J Berry; I Kenny, C Spillane, S Roche; S Kennedy, C Gleeson, R Cahalane; J Barron (0-2), M Breen (0-5); M O’Brien, T Devine (0-1), G O’Brien; A Cadagon (0-1), A Spillane (0-2), R O’Shea (0-7, 5f). Subs: J Power (1-1) for G O’Brien, C O’Leary for M O’Brien, M O’Halloran for S Roche, C Roche for A Spillane, M O’Connor (0-1) for R Cahalane, S Hegarty for J Power.

Referee - B Kelly.

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