UL became the first college to progress to the quarter-finals of the 2017 Fitzgibbon Cup when they overcame the challenge of tournament hosts NUIG.
Venue: University of Limerick
A total of eight players from Clare lined out in the encounter with David Fitzgerald, Kevin Hehir, Aidan McGuane, Liam O’Connor and Gearoid Ryan in action for UL while Conor Cleary, Barry Fitzpatrick and Oisin Donnellan were part of the NUIG outfit.
Despite playing against a strong wind in the opening half, Brian Lohan’s UL boasted a 1-10 0-09 lead, their goal coming via Tipperary All-Ireland winner John McGrath on the fourteenth minute.
They powered ahead on the resumption with Stephen Bennett netting as the 2015 champions hit 1-04 on the bounce inside the first seven minutes of the second half. Although it was a case of game over, NUIG never threw in the towel and reduced the gap to six points with green flags from Niall Mitchell and Sam Conlon.
After losing out in last year’s decider to Mary I, UL’s bid to reclaim the crown is on course and they managed to get the win without Tony Kelly who is in All-Ireland club action for Ballyea at the weekend.
NUIG who are captained by Conor Cleary need a win in their final group game against CIT to advance to the knockout stages and with the Galway college hosting the concluding stages of the tournament they will be eager to be in the competition and vying for their third ever title.
UL: David McCarthy (Glenroe, Limerick), Michael Casey (Na Piarsaigh, Limerick), Brian Troy (Emeralds, Kilkenny), Liam O’Connor (Newmarket-on-Fergus, Clare); Barry Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg, Tipperary), Jason Forde (Silvermines, Tipperary), David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona, Clare) (0-02); Aidan McGuane (Kilmaley, Clare), Lorcan Lyons (Monaleen, Limerick) (0-01); Tom Morrissey (Ahane, Limerick) (0-01), Kevin Hehir (Inagh-Kilnamona, Clare) (0-02), Gearoid Hegarty (St Pat’s, Limerick) (0-04); Stephen Bennett (Ballysaggart, Waterford) (1-05), Michael Mullins (Gort, Galway) (0-01), John McGrath (Loughmore Castleiney, Tipperary) (1-05 4f)
Subs; David Gleeson (Ballinahinch, Tipperary) for Hegarty, John Paul Lucey (Shamrocks, Waterford) for Hehir, Ronan Lynch (Na Piarsaigh, Limerick) for Mullins, Gearoid Ryan (Clarecastle, Clare) for Casey.
NUIG: Cathal Tuohy (Tommie Larkins, Tipperary), Conor Ryan (Nenagh Éire Óg, Tipperary), Barry Fitzpatrick (Sixmilebridge, Clare), Conor Cosgrove (Galway); Mike Connelly (Liam Mellows, Galway), Conor Cleary (Kilmaley, Clare) (0-01 1f), Ger Forde (Ardrahan, Galway); Ian Fox (Sarsfields, Galway), Oisin Donnellan (Feakle, Clare) (0-01); Niall Mitchell (Clonkill, Westmeath) (1-05 1-05f), Kevin McHugo (Tommie Larkins, Galway) (0-02), Ger Hennelly (Ardrahan, Galway) (0-02 1f); Conor Whelan (Kinvara, Galway), Sam Conlon (Roscrea, Tipperary) (1-01), Gearoid Loughnane (Loughrea, Galway)
Subs; Shane Moloney (Rahoon/Newcastle, Galway) for Forde, Stephen Barrett (Liam Mellows, Galway) for Loughnane, Pearse McCrann (Ardrahan, Galway) for Fox, Jack Cummins (Gort, Galway) for Hennelly.
Referee: John McCormack (Tipperary)
All photos by Brian Arthur