Saturday 20 January 2018

Inter county stars shine as Waterford IT book place in Fitzgibbon Cup final

Cork IT 0-19 Waterford IT 1-20 (AET)

Austin Gleeson, WIT, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal alongside CIT's Alan Dennehy and goalkeeper Gary Minihane
Austin Gleeson, WIT, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal alongside CIT's Alan Dennehy and goalkeeper Gary Minihane

Jackie Cahill

HOLDERS Waterford IT had county stars Austin Gleeson, Pauric Mahony and Gavin O’Brien to thank for an epic extra-time victory against Cork IT in this afternoon’s Fitzgibbon Cup semi-final.

The Déise trio combined for 1-18 as WIT repeated last year’s final victory over their Cork opponents to make it through to tomorrow’s Gaelic Grounds decider.

Gleeson was the pick of the bunch, contributing 1-6 over the 80 minutes, a haul made up of 1-5 from play and a glorious sideline cut.

Mahony was also in deadly shooting form, hitting six of his eight points from placed balls, while O’Brien landed four points from play.

WIT came good with a stunning performance in extra-time to break CIT hearts again.

Gleeson’s second half goal had hauled WIT back into contention after CIT opened the second half of normal time with four unanswered points.

Cian Buckley’s late point for CIT took a game that was level eleven times into extra-time - 0-15 to 1-12 - before WIT turned the screw.

They were a point clear at the turn, 1-15 to 0-17, before Gleeson and Mahony contributed four of WIT’s five points in the second period of extra-time.

Liam McGrath, WIT, in action against Conor Hammersly, CIT
Liam McGrath, WIT, in action against Conor Hammersly, CIT
Austin Gleeson, left, and Jake Dillon, WIT, celebrate after victory over CIT

The sides were deadlocked at half-time in normal time, 0-7 apiece, in a memorable encounter.

Early points from Cian Buckley and Noel McNamara, a late replacement for Daire Lordan, handed CIT the early initiative but O’Brien and Mahony replied with points to level matters.

Mahony and Tipp’s John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer, who had a mixed bag of an afternoon, traded scores before McNamara, thriving on Bill Cooper’s excellent work on the right touchline, edged CIT a point clear again.

With referee Fergal Horan electing to let the game flow, a big crowd was treated to an entertaining first half and the game was levelled up at 0-4 apiece by O’Brien in the 18th minute.

John Cronin and Mahony exchanged scores before CIT, with corner back Stephen Murphy in superb form, moved two clear through O’Dwyer (free) and Kevin Kavanagh.

But WIT hit back to restore parity before half-time with two points from Waterford’s 2013 All-Ireland minor medallist Gleeson – one from play and that superb sideline cut before the interval.

Scorers for WIT: A Gleeson 1-6 (0-1 sl), P Mahony 0-8 (5f, 1 65), G O’Brien 0-4, J Dillon & J Hayes 0-1 each.

Scorers for CIT: J O’Dwyer 0-5 (3f, 1 65), C Buckley 0-3, N McNamara, J Cronin, A Walsh, B Cooper & D Lordan (1f) 0-2 each, K Kavanagh 0-1.

WIT: D Stapleton; T Fox, G Teehan, J Maher; T Hamill, M O’Neill, O McGrath; J Langton, S Roche; H Kehoe, P Mahony, A Gleeson; G O’Brien, L McGrath, J Dillon.

Subs: J Hayes for L McGrath (57), S O’Neill for O McGrath (60+1), G Malone for O’Brien (77), E Ryan for Kehoe (79), P Campion for Dillon (80+1).

CIT: G Minihane; S Murphy, A Dennehy, T Lawrence; J Herlihy, M Ellis, C Buckley; A Walsh, W Murphy; N McNamara, J Cronin, B Cooper; J O’Dwyer, C Hammersley, K Kavanagh.

Subs: M Russell for W Murphy (39), P White for McNamara (48), J Coughlan for Kavanagh (55), D Lordan for Hammersley (70).

Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary).

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