UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK 2-13 CORK INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY 1-11
Limerick colleges have been dominating third-level hurling in recent years but the University of Limerick showed on Tuesday that football is also in a healthy state when they defeated Cork Institute of Technology to advance to the Sigerson Cup quarter-final on their home patch in Plassey.
Regarded as the strongest side put out by the college in over two decades, they showed their class when it was needed to dominate the closing period and make it over the line to a comfortable if unsteady victory.
However, that wasn’t how the game played out for most of the first half. Overrun up the middle, struggling with the kickouts, pressured into conceding turnovers and frees by the Cork college’s high-intensity game and not committing enough support players to their attacking movements, they were lucky to trail by just five points coming up to the break.
However, once they calibrated themselves to the heavy conditions and the lack of continuity cause by sixty-one frees over the hour, it was a different story and the power of their running game created enough openings to reach half-time a point in front.
A penalty after the restart should have put the result to bed but CIT were in no mood to give up until their efforts caught up with them in the final quarter and UL were able to get over the wobbles and tie up a date with the winners of Saint Mary’s and UUJ. UL made better use of the early chances and went in front of two frees from St Senans’ James Naughton. However, they were conceding too much space around the middle and, after a run of missed chances, Kieran Murphy opened for the visitors, Daniel Dineen’s free equalised and he then added another to give the visitors the lead.
Niall McDermott’s free had the sides back level again but the hosts wilted under the pressure when Matthew Bradley poked the ball over the line after a goalmouth scramble. It was looking even worse for them when he followed up with a point and Stephen O’Sullivan’s dipping shot into the top corner was tipped over by Brian Redmond.
Keelan Sexton’s reply from out on the right brought UL back into focus and the next attack ended when St Patricks’ Gearóid Hegarty thundering run was foiled Antony Casey’s diving foot save. But CIT relief lasted less than a minute as Rathkeale’s Eoghan O’Connor weaving run stretched their defence before his offload found its way to Conor Finucane who slotted past Casey.
Finucane then followed up with an equalising point and McDermott’s free capped UL’s six-minute blitz which left them leading 1-6 to 1-5 at the break.
The Cork college might have regained the lead immediately after the restart but their goalmouth lob was spectacularly cut out by Redmond’s leaping save and UL’s supporters in the big crowd were cheering even louder when Sexton was fouled in the square. Naughton drill the penalty into the bottom right corner but CIT found the better response with immediate replies from Kevin Browne and Dineen’s free. McDermott met it with one of his own but Dineen’s radar was now spot on as he
struck from play and from a free.
However the full-field press that drew the fouls was catching up on them, giving UL a chance to find their second wind. Although a Denis Daly shot went inches wide and another attacked ended when an open goal died on a miscued final pass, they were getting better reward from their point-kicking. McDermott’s free for an off-the-ball incident 60 metres away from the play got them back in the groove and strikes from Sexton and Finucane inside a minute had the gap back to four.
Another McDermott free and Hegarty’s fisted effort off a defence-splitter up the middle left them in the comfort zone but they
had to endure a few nervous moments as they then opted for containment. However, CIT’s tank was almost empty. Despite Dineen sending over a free and Murphy hoofing through the posts from distance, they couldn’t get any closer and, after his skipper Hegarty walked on a second yellow, sub Fionn McDonagh closed UL’s scoring with an injury-time point.
SCORERS, UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK: James Naughton (1-0 penalty, 0-2 frees), Conor Finucane 1-2 each, Niall McDermott 0-5 (4 frees), Keelan Sexton 0-2, Gearóid Hegarty, Fionn McDonagh 0-1 each;
CORK INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Daniel Dineen 0-6 (5 frees), Matthew Bradley 1-1, Kieran Murphy 0-2, Stephen O’Sullivan, Kevin Browne 0-1 each.
UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK: Brian Redmond (Mayo); Shane Courtney (Kerry), Luke Boland (Tipperary), Daire Quinn (Donegal); Stefan Okunbar (Kerry), Pearse Lillis (Clare), Cian O’Dea (Clare); Fionntán Ó Cuanaigh (Galway), Gearóid Hegarty (Limerick); James Naughton (Limerick), Denis Daly (Kerry), Eoghan O’Connor (Limerick); Niall McDermott (Cavan), Keelan Sexton (Clare), Conor Finucane (Clare). SUBS: Joe Mason (Mayo) for Luke Boland (49 minutes), Nigel Rabbitt (Longford) for Fionntán Ó Cuanaigh (53 minutes), Darragh Bohannon (Clare) for Denis Daly (54 minutes), Eoghan Lawless (Kildare) for Conor Finucane (56 minutes), Fionn McDonagh (Mayo) for Eoghan O’Connor (59 minutes), James Lyons (Mayo) for Cian O’Dea (64 minutes).
CORK INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Anthony Casey (Cork); Daniel Meaney (Cork), Stephen Cahill (Limerick), Alan McCarthy (Cork); Kevin Fahy (Tipperary), Paul O’Sullivan (Kerry), Eoin Lavers (Cork); Killian O’Hanlon (Cork), Conor Kingston (Cork); Kevin Browne (Cork), Conor O’Shea (Kerry), Kieran Murphy (Kerry); Matthew Bradley (Cork), Daniel Dineen (Cork), Stephen O’Sullivan (Kerry). SUBS: Mark Collins (Cork) for Conor O’Shea (49 minutes), Conor Jordan for Eoin Lavers (52 minutes), Tomás Sheehy for Matthew Bradley (54 minutes).
REFEREE: John Gilmartin (Sligo).