Forde on fire as UL advance to decider
University of Limerick 4-16 IT Carlow 0-19
UL's goal power settled an entertaining Fitzgibbon Cup semi-final at a freezing WIT Arena, where Tipperary pair Jason Forde and John McGrath shot 3-9 between them for Gary Kirby's impressive outfit.
Two second-half strikes in as many minutes quelled a hard-working IT Carlow team and their vocal support. DJ Carey's men hit four points in a row during the third quarter to close within two. But the favourites didn't panic. On 45 minutes, Kevin O'Brien set up McGrath to finish from close range.
From the next attack, substitute Pat Ryan slammed to the net after Ian Galvin's point effort struck the post (3-14 to 0-15). Done and dusted.
Forde's three-pointer on 27 minutes gave the Limerick students a 1-12 to 0-10 half-time advantage. Six players registered from play. Freetaker Forde supplied 1-4 while McGrath contributed 0-3.
The sides were level six times in a half hour that zipped along. UL led 5-3 after ten minutes but an industrious Carlow outfit enjoyed a purple patch in the second quarter.
Three points on the spin from Colin Dunford, Mark Russell and Cathal Dunbar snuck them 0-7 to 0-6 ahead. Wexford forward Dunbar ended the first 30 with three singles.
UL blitzed their opponents with four rapid points. Three minutes before the break, Barry Murphy and John McGrath combined to tee up Forde who drilled the sliotar past Enda Rowland. The only negative for the leaders was an injury to Clare defender David Fitzgerald.
A Tom Morrissey point early in the second period meant that all six UL forwards were on the scoresheet. McGrath extended the margin to six before Carlow rallied. Top scorer Martin Kavanagh, who claimed eight points in all, led the fightback with Russell and Richie Leahy also on target.
That double blast from McGrath and Ryan punctured their enthusiasm. Kavanagh, Dunford and Leahy hit consolation scores. Forde then buried a penalty in the last minute after a foul on Michael Mullins as the maroon and white march on to a third final in four seasons.
Scorers - UL: J Forde 2-5 (1-0 pen, 2fs, 1 65'), J McGrath 1-4, P Ryan 1-0, T Kelly, I Galvin 0-2 each, K O'Brien, T Morrissey, B Murphy 0-1 each. IT Carlow: M Kavanagh 0-8 (5fs), M Russell, C Dunbar 0-3 each, C Dunford, R Leahy 0-2 each, J Fagan 0-1.
UL - D McCarthy; A McGuane, C Cleary, S Finn; G Hegarty, B Heffernan, D Fitzgerald; T Kelly, P Maher; I Galvin, K O'Brien, T Morrissey; J McGrath, J Forde, B Murphy. Subs: R Lynch for Fitzgerald (25), P Ryan for Murphy (39), M Mullins for Maher (54), S Roche for O'Brien (61).
IT Carlow - E Rowland; R Brown, K Hannafin, S Reck; M Harney, J Doyle, M Redmond; C Dunford, R Leahy; C Dwyer, M Kavanagh, S Downey; J Fagan, C Dunbar, M Russell.
Sub: S Casey for Downey (50).
Ref - C McAllister (Cork)