Updated Sat 8:01 PM
University Of Limerick 1-21
A LATE MIKEY Kiely goal delivered Fitzgibbon Cup glory for UL after an epic late charge against NUIG in an entertaining final.
UL were trailing by five points with four minutes of normal time remaining but produced a superb final 1-5 to clinch the win in stunning fashion. There was also a late red card for NUIG’s Cian Lynch which was a factor in the final outcome.
This was a repeat decider between the colleges after the Sigerson Cup decider, where NUIG were victorious. But it was UL who emerged as winners at the IT Carlow grounds today to deny NUIG a dream double.
Gearoid O’Connor was in superb form for the winners, landing nine points to help UL to glory.
There were some natural nerves on display in the opening five minutes as both sides were shooting blanks in front of the posts.
Seán Twomey pleaded for a penalty in the second minute when he slumped in the NUIG square with ball in hand, but referee Fergal Horgan ruled for too many steps. That allowed the Galway university to open the scoring through a free from Evan Niland who ended his day with an excellent 14 points.
That kick-started a lively exchange of scores, with O’Connor putting UL on the board from placed balls. Lynch looked sprightly in the early stages, getting his foot in front to win possession and draw frees for Niland to fire over.
NUIG drew the first major hit of the afternoon on 16 minutes when John Fleming scooped the ball on the run and thundered through the UL defence before whistling his shot low into the corner of Dean Mason’s net.
That score put Jeffrey Lynskey’s outfit 1-4 to 0-3 in front.
But UL responded calmly, hitting three unanswered points through Kiely, centre-back Bryan O’Mara and Ciarán Connolly.
Niland settled NUIG with another free before engineering their second goal of the day, delivering the ball into the heart of the UL defence to start the attack. A few swift transfers followed as Mark Kennedy completed the move with a fine strike into the net.
O’Connor struck twice more for UL before the end of the first half to leave his side trailing by 2-7 to 0-9.
That deficit was wiped out within six minutes of the restart. Kiely, who was aiming for the net, had to settle for a point when he unleashed a rocket after receiving a pass from Twomey in goal-scoring range.
O’Connor helped himself to a point from play while O’Mara brought his tally to four points with some super long-range shooting.
Lán Ama #ULvNUIG@ul_gaa 1-21 (24)@nuiggaa1 2-15 (21)
Déanann Mikey Kiely é arís!!
UL with another late turn around 😵@GAA_BEO @ElectricIreland @HigherEdGAA #FirstClassRivals #FitzgibbonCup
BEO/LIVE ar @TG4TV pic.twitter.com/e9JPeNwpj8
— Spórt TG4 (@SportTG4) February 19, 2022
Substitute Ross Hayes briefly UL the lead before Niland converted a badly needed free in the 38th minute to give NUIG their first score of the second half.
It was then UL’s turn to absorb the pressure as Niland took charge to sling over five more points, including four frees to regain the advantage for NUIG.
He hit his most impressive free of the afternoon on 52 minutes, landing a monstrous point from distance to put his side 2-14 to 0-15 in front. Niland repeated the trick from similar range shortly after.
NUIG finished the game with 14 players after Lynch was sent off with a red card in the latter stages. His dismissal came at the worst time for the Galway team as UL were still picking off points to stay in touch.
O’Connor landed his seventh free before Brian O’Grady swept over a lovely point to leave just two between them.
And they finished with a flourish to snatch the crown. Connolly landed the equaliser with his third point of the day, and it was Kiely who delivered the win with a heroic charge at the NUIG defence before finishing his effort to the net.
Scorers for UL: Gearoid O’Connor [0-9, 8f], Bryan O’Mara [0-4], Mikey Kiely [1-2], Ciarán Connolly [0-3], Ross Hayes [0-1], Brian O’Sullivan [0-1], Brian O’Grady [0-1]
Scorers for NUIG: Evan Niland [0-14, 12f], John Fleming [1-1], Mark Kennedy [1-0]
16. Dean Mason [Ballyhale Shamrocks, Kilkenny]
17. Conor Flaherty (Carnmore, Galway), 3. TJ Brennan (Clarinbridge, Galway), 4. Mike Gough (Smith O’Briens, Clare)
5. Killian Sampson (Shinrone, Offaly), 6. Bryan O’Mara (Holycross-Ballycahill, Clare), 7. Cian Galvin (Clarecastle, Clare)
33. Darragh Corcoran (Ballyhale Shamrocks, Kilkenny), 9. Ciaran Connolly (Loughmore-Castleiney, Tipperary)
10. Niall Brennan (Lisdowney, Kilkenny), 11. Gearoid O’Connor (Moyne-Templetuohy, Tipperary), 12. Brian O’Grady (Kilteely-Dromkeen, Limerick)
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13. Billy Power (Clonea, Waterford), 31 Seán Twomey [Courcey Rovers, Cork] , 15. Mikey Kiely (Abbeyside-Ballinacourty, Waterford)
18. Ross Hayes (Crusheen, Clare) for Galvin (37 mins)
8. Brian O’Sullivan (Kanturk, Cork) for Brennan (49 mins)
21. Shane Staunton for Sampson (54 mins)
(Galway unless stated)
1. Liam O’Reilly (Castlegar)
2. Eoin Lawless (Athenry), 3. Jack Fitzpatrick (Killimordaly), 4. Conor Caulfield (Kilconieron)
5. Caimin Killeen (Loughrea), 22. Daniel Loftus (Tulloughmore), 7. Mark Gill (Castlegar)
8. Ian McGlynn (Kilconieron), 13. Philip Hickey (Éire Óg Nenagh, Tipperary)
10. Conor Walsh (Turloughmore), 11. Cian Lynch (Patrickswell, Limerick), 12. Fionn McDonagh (Moycullen)
26. Mark Kennedy (Clarinbridge), 14. John Fleming (Meelick-Eyrecourt), 15. Evan Niland (Clarinbridge)
9. Diarmuid Kilcommins (Annaghdown) for McGlynn (20 mins)
30. Oisin Flannery (St Thomas) for McDonagh (39 mins)
28. Adrian Prendergast (Craughwell) for Hickey (39 mins)
24. Cian Salmon [Clarinbridge] for Kennedy (46 mins)
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