Fitzgibbon Cup: Carey thrilled to reach final
IT Carlow 2-20 UCC 1-20
Injuries could well derail IT Carlow's bid for a first Independent.ie Fitzgibbon Cup crown, but manager DJ Carey said he wouldn't swap the chance of victory for anything.
After last week's win over favourites UL, Carey's side were by far the hungrier side as they edged past UCC into the final against Mary Immaculate.
Colin Dunford's goal in the second period of extra-time was the difference, after UCC had rallied well to force the extra 20 minutes.
The likely loss of key players Kevin Kelly, Dunford and Stephen Maher to muscle injuries means today's final with the champions Mary Immaculate will be a big ask of Carey's side, but he thinks they'll empty the tanks again.
"I've gotten a lot of good wishes this weekend from people who are very surprised Carlow are at this stage," said Carey.
"Two years ago we were beaten by LIT by a couple of points in the quarter-final, last year we were beaten by one point in extra-time by UCD in the quarter-final, so we just needed to get over that hurdle.
"We set out on a journey a couple of years ago to try and get this far and we've done it. We're maybe in bonus territory. But you know what? When you are in bonus territory you want to go on and actually win it now.
"This is a tough weekend obviously, it's two matches in two days if you are to win but I would give it up for anything."
Hopefully the injury worries prove to be minor, because Maher was a real key performer for IT Carlow. He hit 11 points in all including three from play, while alongside him Chris Bolger and Jack Fagan were also outstanding.
Maher will be annoyed to have missed a '65 to win it after 60 minutes, but even before that it looked like the win was theirs when Kevin Kelly goaled with four minutes left. That gave them a 1-15 to 0-13 lead, but five points wasn't enough as John Power goaled before Michael Breen added two points to force extra-time, with the teams level at 1-15 each at full-time.
But IT Carlow were hungrier in extra-time. After some brilliant tackling from the IT Carlow forwards, Maher's point got them up and running, and when Martin Kavanagh broke through and passed to Dunford, he fired in the crucial goal of the game.
"Not that we thought we ever had it won, but going five points up there with six or seven minutes to go, on the sideline we thought it was probably over. UCC came back and it was just savage," said Carey. "Look, I don't know what sort of a team we can put out in the final, but we'll go out tomorrow and do our best."
Scorers - IT Carlow: S Maher 0-11 (6f, 2'65), C Bolger 0-4, K Kelly 1-1, C Dunford 1-0, M Kavanagh 0-2, J Fagan, E Rowland (f), 0-1 each. UCC: R O'Shea 0-7 (5f), M Breen 0-5, J Power 1-1, A Spillane 0-2, J Barron 0-2, A Cadogan, M O'Connor, T Devine 0-1 each.
IT Carlow - E Rowland; D Palmer, K Hannafin, R Brown; J Doyle, D Healy, D O'Hanlon; K Kelly, C Dunford; C Dwyer, M Russell, M Kavanagh; J Fagan, S Maher, C Bolger. Subs: T Nolan for Dunford (58), C Dunford for Nolan (60), T Nolan for Fagan (66), J Fagan for Kelly (75), M Redmond for Maher (75).
UCC - J Berry; I Kenny, C Spillane, S Roche; S Kennedy, C Gleeson, R Cahalane; J Barron, M Breen; M O'Brien, T Devine, G O'Brien; A Cadogan, A Spillane, R O'Shea. Subs: J Power for G O'Brien (h-t), C O'Leary for M O'Brien (39), M O'Halloran for S Roche (39), C Roche for Spillane (57), M O'Connor for Cahalane (67), S Hegarty for Power (78).
Ref - B Kelly (Westmeath)