The bid to bring four Sigerson Cup medals to Wexford ended in disappointment for I.T. Carlow on Wednesday when they entered the lions' den and suffered a double scores 0-14 to 0-7 defeat to hot favourites D.C.U. in their first-ever decider.
The hosts held a 0-5 to 0-2 lead at half-time and always looked the superior side, with their scores shared by Monaghan duo David Garland and Micheál Bannigan, plus Dublin quartet Evan Comerford, Paddy Small, Shane Carthy and Seán Bugler.
Two Wexford players were in the starting line-up for I.T. Carlow, who had been rank outsiders in every round but still managed to make it to the decider under the tutelage of former Laois hurler Pat Critchley.
Cathal Walsh of Monageer-Boolavogue started at right half-back and was replaced in the 48th minute, while county Senior Niall Hughes (Kilanerin) filled one of the midfield positions but had his involvement curtailed at one stage when Tipperary referee Derek O'Mahoney sent him to the sin-bin on a black card.
The losing squad also included Clongeen duo Daryl Murphy and Adam Ryan among the substitutes, while another Wexford link was provided by Alan Nolan of Taghmon-Camross - also a county Senior from last year - who is employed as the college's G.A.A. Development Officer.
Meanwhile, there will be a strong Slaneyside involvement in the penultimate round of the Fitzgibbon Cup after the four quarter-finals were played over two days last week.
The games will be played as a double-header this Saturday, February 8, in the D.C.U. sportsgrounds, with I.T. Carlow facing Mary Immaculate from Limerick while the hosts will lock horns with U.C.C.
D.C.U. recorded a 1-23 to 2-14 win over W.I.T., with Oisín Foley (Crossabeg-Ballymurn) in goal, Conor Firman (St. Martin's) at left corner-back, Damien Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien, 0-1) at midfield, Rory O'Connor (St. Martin's, 0-4 from placed balls) at left corner-forward, and Eoin Murphy (Ferns St. Aidan's) and Conor Hearne (Shelmaliers) among the substitutes. In addition, Blackwater clubman James Donoghue is one of their mentors.
Connal Flood (Cloughbawn) was the sole Wexford representative on the W.I.T. squad, starting at centre-forward.
Rathnure's Rory Higgins was the I.T. Carlow hero in their high-scoring home win over N.U.I.G., coming off the bench to score an impressive 2-3 from play as the home side prevailed by 5-20 to 0-28 after extra-time.
Three more Wexford players also made huge contributions, namely Shane Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien, 0-1) at right corner-back, team captain Cathal Dunbar (Naomh Eanna, 1-1) at centre-forward, and Seamus Casey (Oylegate-Glenbrien, 1-8, 0-6 frees) at left corner-forward.
The winners' panel also included Adam Howlin (Shelmaliers) and Michael Redmond (Rathnure).
If D.C.U. and I.T. Carlow both come through their respective semi-finals, there will be the novel feature of the Reck brothers, Shane and Damien, facing each other in the decider.
U.C.D. departed from the race for honours when they lost to U.C.C. by 1-20 to 2-12 in The Mardkye on Wednesday.
Conor Scallan of Ferns St. Aidan's featured at left half-back, while Charlie McGuckin (Naomh Eanna) scored a goal from the full-forward position.