Thursday 29 September 2016

"That was one of the most unbelievable games I have played in" - Hero Hannon leads Mary I to Fitzgibbon glory

Mary I 1-30 UL 3-22

Published 27/02/2016 | 17:21

John Meagher, left and Richie English, right, Mary Immaculate College Limerick, celebrate after the game. Independent.ie Fitzgibbon Cup Final, Mary Immaculate College Limerick v University of Limerick, Cork IT, Cork. Picture credit: Eóin Noonan / SPORTSFILE
John Meagher, left and Richie English, right, Mary Immaculate College Limerick, celebrate after the game. Independent.ie Fitzgibbon Cup Final, Mary Immaculate College Limerick v University of Limerick, Cork IT, Cork. Picture credit: Eóin Noonan / SPORTSFILE

It took two periods of extra-time and more than 90 minutes of hurling but Mary I eventually emerged successful to claim their first independent.ie Fitzgibbon Cup final after a pulsating encounter.

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At both the end of normal time and the end of the first period of extra-time, Eamonn Cregan's side looked to have done enough to make a little piece of history.

However, UL wouldn't give up their title without a fight and first supersub Tommy Heffernan - who would finish the day with six points - levelled things up at the end of normal time. And then when Mary I looked to have the job done at the end of extra-time, John McGrath kept his cool to force two additional periods of five minutes each that no one was expecting. The confirmation that we'd play ten more minutes was made over the PA system as players shook hands on the field and consigned themselves to a replay.

On 87 minutes the sides were level for the 19th time in the game and it was only when Daragh O'Donovan slotted over a free and Cian Lynch hit his fifth point of the game that UL's resistance was finally broken.

David Reidy, Mary Immaculate College Limerick, in action against Jack Browne, left and Brian Stapleton, right, University of Limerick. Independent.ie Fitzgibbon Cup Final, Mary Immaculate College Limerick v University of Limerick, Cork IT, Cork. Picture credit: Eóin Noonan / SPORTSFILE
David Reidy, Mary Immaculate College Limerick, in action against Jack Browne, left and Brian Stapleton, right, University of Limerick. Independent.ie Fitzgibbon Cup Final, Mary Immaculate College Limerick v University of Limerick, Cork IT, Cork. Picture credit: Eóin Noonan / SPORTSFILE

There were several heroic performances for both teams. Heffernan was superb while for the second day in a row, McGrath found the net twice for Brian Lohan's men. Paul Maher was steady in goal while for Mary I, Sean Linnane and Cian Lynch and others showed well in an epic encounter. However, Limerick's Declan Hannon picked up the man of the match award after hitting 1-12, 1-3 from play.

"That was one of the most unbelievable games I have played in," said the Limerick sharpshooter.

"And the crowd were really getting into it as well. It reminded me of the Harty cup games when we played Thurles and it took us three games to beat them to win our first Harty but it is an unbelievable feeling.     

"It was unreal. You'd play for 190 minutes as long as you win. There is such self belief in the boys and I'm unbelievably proud of them. We had it won and lost so many times throughout the game but we'd have stayed until midnight to win the game."

Scorers- Mary Immaculate College: D Hannon 1-12 (0-9f), R Lynch 0-5 (0-1f), S Linnane, D O’Donovan (0-1f), D Reidy 0-3 each, T Gallacher, J Meagher, S Cahill, D Corry 0-1 each.

Scorers for UL: J McGrath 2-7 (0-5f, 0-1 65), T Heffernan 0-6, T Morrissey 1-1, C Martin, K Hehir, A McGuane 0-2 each, J Forde, C McInerney 0-1 each.

UL: P Maher; G Ryan, J Browne, S Roche; B Heffernan, J Forde, B Stapleton; A McGuane, K Hehir; D Fitzgerald, J McGrath, C Martin; K O’Brien, T Morrissey, C McInerney. Subs: T Heffernan for Fitzgerald (42), G Hegarty for Stapleton (45), A Murphy for O’Brien (58), M Casey for Hehir, P Ryan for Forde (both 60), B Maher for McGuane (72).

MARY IMMACULATE COLLEGE: M Ó Conghaile; E Quirke, R English, A Ryan; R Maher, T Stapleton, J Meagher; C Galvin, D O’Donovan; S Linnane, C Lynch, D Reidy; D Hannon, N O’Meara, D Corry.

Subs: M O’Neill for Galvin (42), T Gallacher for Corry (51), S Cahill for O’Donovan (54), S Kennedy for Linnane (60), Corry for Quirke (start of extra time), O’Donovan for O’Meara (70, injured), S Linnane for Gallagher (75), Gallagher for Hannon (80).

Referee: J Owens (Wexford).

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