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Kelly shines as UL claim Fitzgibbon

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Tommy Heffernan, UL scores his side's second goal

Tommy Heffernan, UL scores his side's second goal

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UL players celebrate with the cup

UL players celebrate with the cup

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Jack Langton, WIT, in action against David McInerney, UL

Jack Langton, WIT, in action against David McInerney, UL

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Tommy Heffernan, UL scores his side's second goal

UL were more clinical throughout as they claimed victory in last night's Independent.ie Fitzgibbon Cup final replay at Pairc Ui Rinn.

While their first goal, from wing-back Daire Quinn, had a large air of good fortune to it, from there they drove on to lead by six points at half-time and never looked like letting Waterford IT back into the game.

Clare star Tony Kelly was outstanding at midfield and claimed the man of the match award but he had a strong supporting cast, with John McGrath, Jason Forde, David McInerney and Dan Morrisey all playing key roles.

WIT had Pauric Mahony scoring 0-8 of their 1-14 total, and they had some mitigation in the fact that Austin Gleeson departed the scene with a hamstring injury just four minutes into the contest, depriving their attack of a focal point.

There was only a point in it, 0-4 to 0-3 for UL, after Gleeson's replacement Johnny Hayes pointed in the 12th minute but then UL's first goal arrived.

Quinn launched a high delivery towards the WIT goalmouth in search of McGrath but full-back Ger Teehan looked to have claimed possession only for the ball to screw off his hand and into the roof of the net.

While WIT responded with a Mahony point, scores from Kelly and Kevin O'Brien eased UL further clear. Had Hayes not been denied by a superb Paul Maher save when WIT trailed by 1-7 to 0-6, things would have been different but instead Conor Martin and Kelly pointed for UL to leave them ahead by six at half-time.

Tom Fox, WIT's equalising saviour in the drawn game, got the first score of the second half but Colm Bonnar's side couldn't seize the upper hand as UL were always able to pick off scores.

McGrath, Heffernan and Cathal McInerney all pointed in a four-minute burst to leave eight in it and a WIT goal was becoming more and more of a necessity.

Standing

They would get one chance, after a Kelly free put UL 1-16 to 0-10 in front, but again Maher was reliable when called upon, standing up well to a shot from WIT sub Ger Malone.

Jason Forde sent a UL sideline cut straight over the bar in the immediate aftermath and then the second goal arrived in the 51st minute. It was a lovely move, emblematic of the swashbuckling play of UL in the closing stages. After Martin won a clearance, he found McGrath, whose hand-off took out two defenders and allowed Heffernan an easy task to score the second goal.

UL were in showboating mode now and had a Forde shot been just inside rather than just outside the post, it would have been worth the admission fee for Kelly's flawless technique in the lead-up.

Kelly himself got what proved to be UL's final score as he sent over a long-range free in the 53th minute to make it 2-18 to 0-11.

While UL were finished, there was still time for a game Waterford side to bulk up their own tally and they finished strongly. After centre-back Martin O'Neill saw his 20-metre free stopped on the line, Mahony converted the resultant '65 and then captain Jake Dillon got off the mark.

In the final minute of normal time, Gavin O'Brien's low shot found the net to give him a tally of 1-2 and Mahony rounded off the scoring.

UL had done more than enough, however.

Scorers - UL: T Kelly (2f), J McGrath (4f) 0-6 each, T Heffernan 1-1, D Quinn 1-0, K O'Brien 0-2, C Martin, C McInerney, J Forde (sideline) 0-1 each. Waterford IT: P Mahony 0-8 (5f, 1 '65), G O'Brien 1-2, T Fox, H Kehoe, J Dillon, J Hayes 0-1 each.

UL- P Maher (Tipperary); J Browne (Clare), G Ryan (Clare), B Troy (Kilkenny); D Quinn (Tipperary), D McInerney (Clare), B Stapleton (Tipperary); T Kelly (Clare), D Morissey (Limerick); K O'Brien (Limerick), C Martin (Kilkenny), T Heffernan (Tipperary); C McInerney (Clare), J McGrath (Tipperary), J Forde (Tipperary).

Subs: S Bennett (Waterford) for C McInerney (50), PJ Scully (Laois) for O'Brien (56), S O'Gorman (Wexford) for Morrissey (57), K Walsh (Kilkenny) for Heffernan , E Moriarty (Kilkenny) for Forde (both 60).

WATERFORD IT - D Stapleton (Limerick); O McGrath (Kilkenny), G Teehan (Kilkenny), J Maher (Waterford); T Hamill (Tipperary), M O'Neill (Waterford), T Fox (Tipperary); J Langton (Kilkenny), S Roche (Waterford); P Mahony (Waterford), L McGrath (Tipperary), H Kehoe (Wexford); A Gleeson (Waterford), J Dillon (Waterford), G O'Brien (Waterford). Subs: J Hayes (Kilkenny) for Gleeson (4, injured), G Malone (Kilkenny) for L McGrath (46), C O'Brien (Cork) for Roche (53), J O'Dwyer (Tipperary) for Hamill (56).

Ref - B Kelly (Westmeath)

Irish Independent