In only their second-ever campaign in Fitzgibbon Cup, Mary Immaculate College’s fairytale continued when they qualified for the finals weekend with a 1-18 to 0-15 win over DIT in Parnells GAA grounds in Coolock on Tuesday afternoon.
Patrickswell’s Lar Considine goal eleven minutes after the break proved to be the decisive moment of a game played in ideal conditions but the stars of the show were Pallasgreen’s Robert O’Donnell and Adare’s Declan Hannon as they inspired a resolute defence.
DIT put it up to the visitors early on but their lightning start faltered once Mary I found their stride and depended heavily on the free-taking of Mike Moloney thereafter. When the game tightened up after the opening salvo, they never quite managed to break O’Donnell’s stranglehold of the space in front of the box and struggled to contain Hannon’s salvos from the back. And once Mary I’s midfield got to work, they had targets like John Conlon, Luke O’Farrell and Brian O’Halloran to aim at. Boosted from the start by the inclusion of Galway senior hurler Conor Cooney - who had been unavailable for their earlier games as he was tied up with his club St Thomas’s - Mary I were full value for their win.
Yet for all the signature names in the Mary I lineup, this was still a team effort. DIT never threw in the towel and, even when they were struggling to stay in touch after the break, they still managed to put a few strings of scores together. But whenever they looked like building up a head of steam, they were smothered by Limerick side’s voracious appetite for the ball and, despite featuring a number of
Dublin’s rising inter-county stars in the side, they were never given the space to make the best use of their strengths.
With Dublin star Liam Rushe cleaning up the puckouts, DIT raced into the lead from the throw-in as David Treacy, Moloney, Stephen O’Connor and Thomas Connolly had them four up in as many minutes. Once O’Donnell and Hannon got the chance to impose themselves, Mary I settled down and, while Hannon and Brian O’Halloran were met by a massive Moloney free and Connolly, Hannon’s ‘65’, O’Halloran and John Conlon’s free had the gap back to the minimum.
Although Niall Quinn replied, Conlon from a free and from play had the Limerick college level and Hannon’s ‘65’ off a blocked 20 metre free gave them the lead. O’Connor and another Moloney free had DIT back in front but Seán Curran, Conlon’s free and Colm Galvin left Mary I leading 0-11 to 0-9 at the break.
The visitors could have made the big break right on the restart but had to settle for Hannon’s ‘65’ after Finn McGarry’s point blank save off O’Halloran and, after Quinn traded with Conlon’s free, DIT were back in business when Moloney sent over two frees.
But the rally lasted barely two minutes when Considine’s lob caught he goalie just under the crossbar and, despite Moloney sending over another free, Curran, Conor Cooney and Conlon’s free looked to have the game wrapped up with ten minutes to go. DIT tried to respond and Treacy’s free and sub Joe McManus brought the deficit back to four but Mary I had the last word when Hannon’s 100+ metres free and Conlon’s from the 20 ended the scoring.
Mary I will now play WIT or LIT in the semi-final in Galway next week. The other semi-final will be between UCC and the winners of UL and UCD.
SCORERS - Mary I: John Conlon 0-7 (six frees), Declan Hannon 0-5 (one free, three ‘65s), Lar Considine 1-0, Brian O’Halloran, Seán Curran 0-2 each, Colm Galvin, Conor Cooney 0-1 each; DIT: Mike Moloney 0-6 (all frees), David Treacy 0-2 (one free), Stephen O’Connor, Thomas Connolly, Niall Quinn 0-2 each, Joe McManus 0-1.
MARY IMMACULATE COLLEGE - Shane Nolan (Tipperary); Cillian Fennessy (Clare), Robert O’Donnell (Pallasgreen, Limerick), Andrew Ryan (Waterford); Jamie Wall (Cork), Declan Hannon (Adare, Limerick), Éanna Hogan (Tipperary); Colm Galvin (Adare), Niall O’Meara (Tipperary); Seán Curran (Tipperary), William Hickey (South Liberties, Limerick), Conor Cooney (Galway); Luke O’Farrell (Cork), John Conlon (Clare), Brian O’Halloran (Waterford). Subs: Lar Considine (Patrickswell) for Cillian Fennessy (half-time), Eoin Hogan (Tipperary) for William Hickey (50 mins), Killian Fitzgerald (Waterford) for Lar Considine (52 mins), Darragh O’Carroll (Cork) for Niall O’Meara (60 mins).
DIT - Finn McGarry (Dublin); Jamie Diviney (Galway), Ger McManus (Dublin), Ciarán O’Shaughnessy (Wexford); Dean Curran (Dublin), Liam Rushe (Dublin), Kieran Bergin (Tipperary); Stephen Morris (Meath), Stephen O’Connor (Dublin); Niall Quinn (Galway), Mike Moloney (Kilkenny), Shane Ryan (Dublin); Jack Hobbs (Wexford), Thomas Connolly (Dublin), David Treacy (Dublin). Subs: Finn
Dunleavy (Dublin) for Morris (22 mins), Joe McManus (Wexford) for Jack Hobbs (40 mins), Willie Cullen (Wexford) for Shane Ryan (49 mins).
REFEREE - Owen Elliot (Antrim).