Mary I retain Fitzgibbon Cup with dominant final display as excellent Cian Lynch claims Man of the Match
Mary Immaculate College 3-24 IT Carlow 1-19
Reigning champions Mary Immaculate College from Limerick retained the Independent.ie Fitzgibbon Cup at Pearse Stadium with a superb display.
DJ Carey’s hopes of leading IT Carlow to their first crown never materialised and they were always chasing the game, not helped by having to go to extra-time against UCC yesterday.
It was a poignant day though for Mary I manager Jamie Wall who was on the Mary I team which lost in its first Fitzgibbon Cup final appearance in 2013 at this venue but he has been confined to a wheelchair for the past few years due to an illness.
The champions used the strong wind in the opening half and deservedly led by double scores at 0-16 to 0-8 at the end of a free-flowing opening half.
The champions wasted little time in getting on top and points from Michael O’Neill, Aaron Gillane and Conor Twomey in the opening four minutes gave them a strong foothold.
However IT Carlow, appearing in their first final, did not panic and Stephen Maher got them off the mark after five minutes with the first of five pointed frees which he hit in the opening half.
Limerick’s Darragh O’Donovan hit two superb points from sidelines for Mary I, while Tipperary’s Ronan Maher was superb as he struck four with the wind, three of them frees from long range.
Those scores saw the holders continue to push further ahead and they led by 0-9 to 0-3 at the end of the opening quarter.
IT Carlow, though, kept hanging in there with Waterford’s Colin Dunford and Charles Dwyer scoring good points.
Mary I finished the opening half strongly with former All-Star Colm Galvin hitting a superb point and Limerick’s Cian Lynch bringing his haul to 0-3 to lead by eight at the break.
Two more frees by Maher cut the gap in the opening four minutes of the second-half but O’Neill hit back with his third point for Mary I.
And then a delivery from Luke Meade broke for O’Donovan to dispatch the ball to the net with a one-handed strike and make it 1-17 to 0-10 after 36 minutes with Conor Twomey extending the lead with a point from distance.
But IT Carlow never gave up and points from Martin Kavanagh and Maher gave them hope as they reduced the margin to 1-20 to 0-14 going into the final quarter.
Then Mary I struck another huge blow when Gillane blasted home a penalty after he was fouled by Kevin Hannfinn with 12 minutes left.
Maher got a goal for Carlow six minutes from time but the gap was too big to bridge for the newcomers.
Mary I sealed the win when sub Pa Ryan finished to the net after Gillane’s shot was superbly saved by Enda Rowland.
Scorers – Mary I: A Gillane 1-5 (1-0 pen, 0-4f), D O’Donovan 1-3 (0-2 sl), R Maher 0-4 (0-3f), P Ryan 1-0, M O’Neill 0-3, C Lynch 0-3, C Twomey 0-3, C Galvin 0-1, L Meade 0-1, S Cahill 0-1.
IT Carlow: S Maher 1-13 (0-12f), C Dunford 0-2, C Dwyer 0-2, M Kavanagh 0-1, C Bolger 0-1.
Mary Immaculate College – C Barrett; D Sweeney, R English, E Quirke; C Twomey, R Maher, A Flynn; C Galvin, S Cahill; D O’Donovan, M O’Neill, A Gillane; T Gallagher, C Lynch, L Meade.
Subs: T Monaghan for Gallagher (half-time), P Ryan for O’Neill (55), S Burke for Gillane (63).
IT Carlow – E Rowland; D Palmer, K Hannafin, R Browne; R Moran, D Healy, D O’Hanlon; J Doyle, C Dunford; M Kavanagh, C Dwyer, S Maher; C Bolger, M Russell, J Fagan.
Subs: T Nolan for Russell (50).
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly).