Saturday 24 June 2017

'Superb' McGrath helps UL grab draw

University of Limerick 0-16 Limerick IT 1-13
Fitzgibbon Cup (SH)

Conor McGrath tries to get past Richie McCarty during the Fitzgibbon Cup match at the University of Limerick yesterday
Conor McGrath tries to get past Richie McCarty during the Fitzgibbon Cup match at the University of Limerick yesterday

John Fallon

UL coach Brian Lohan praised Conor McGrath after the Clare sharpshooter produced a magnificent display to help the reigning champions snatch a draw against their local rivals.

"We just didn't play for long periods, so it was good to get something out of the game. But we will need to improve," said former Banner star Lohan.

"Conor was superb. He was a marked man but still managed to get the scores when we really needed them."

Joe Canning looked to have clinched it for last year's runners-up when he blasted home from a tight angle to put them ahead by 1-11 to 0-7 heading into the final quarter.

But the champions, who had Tipperary All Star Padraic Maher in their half-back line, rallied, with McGrath picking off points from play and frees.

LIT, with centre-back John O'Keeffe outstanding, opened up a 0-6 to 0-1 lead after 17 minutes, with Bill Beckitt's opening-minute point the only score the champions got from play in the first half.

McGrath's free-taking, though, reduced the deficit to 0-8 to 0-5 at the break.

Sean Collins and another free from Canning extended LIT's lead after the break, and it took a fine save by UL 'keeper Thomas Lowry to deny Cathal O'Connell on 41 minutes.

But Lowry could do nothing to keep out Canning's piledriver, which put LIT seven points in front.

UL, though, drafted in fresh legs and McGrath kept chipping away at LIT's lead.

Even though Canning landed another brace, there was just the minimum between the sides in the dying moments, when Mikey Heffernan, who had scored after coming on, set up wing-back Martin Walsh -- a brother of Kilkenny All-Star Tommy -- to fire over the equaliser.

LIT manager Davy Fitzgerald said that his side will benefit from their first Fitzgibbon Cup outing of the season, but he lamented letting the holders off the hook.

"We should have won it. But it was a good display and we can learn from it and push on," said the Clare boss.

SCORERS -- UL: C McGrath 0-12 (8f, 1 '65'), B Beckitt 0-2, M Walsh, M Heffernan 0-1 each. LIT: J Canning 1-7 (4f, 1 '65'), S Collins 0-2, P Browne, E Ryan, C O'Connell, C McInerney 0-1 each.

UL -- T Lowry; P Stapleton, M Walsh, K Fox; P Maher, B Bugler, M Walsh; S Golden, J Gallagher; B Beckitt, C Donnellan, J Coen; J Regan, P Kelly, C McGrath. Subs: M Heffernan for Regan (40), L Markham for Gallagher (43), L Ryan for Golden (47), T O'Brien for Donnellan (52).

LIT -- A Fahy; E Glynn, R McCarty, B Glynn; J Hayes, J O'Keeffe, P O'Brien; P Browne, S Lambert; S O'Brien, S Collins, E Ryan; C McInerney, J Canning, C O'Connell. Sub: C Madden for O'Connell (58).

Ref -- C McAllister (Cork).

Irish Independent

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