Kevin O'Brien brace helps holders UL into last four of Independent.ie Fitzgibbon Cup
UL 2-19 CORK IT 3-11
Holders UL booked their spot in next week’s semi-finals as two goals from Kevin O’Brien helped them past CIT.
Brian Lohan’s side led all the way through against the hosts – who will also host the finals weekend – and were set on their way as O’Brien’s first goal put them into a 1-1 to no score lead inside four minutes.
However, CIT – who were without suspended Tipperary star John O’Dwyer – mustered an immediate response through Jamie Coughlan and a close game looked in prospect when UL led 1-3 to 1-2 after 11 minutes.
The visitors had more scoring power, though, with John McGrath, Tom Morrissey and Conor Martin all impressing, and four points on the trot pushed them clear.
Once more, a CIT goal got them back in it, Michael Kearney raising a green flag on 22 minutes, but again UL hit four unanswered points, leading by 1-13 to 2-5 at half-time.
CIT began the second half well, with Robbie Hanley and Ray Barry pointing, the latter with a monstrous free from behind his own 65. While UL had a point from Martin in response, Bill Cooper then fired in a third CIT goal with a rasping shot.
That left a point in it, 1-14 to 3-7, with McGrath and Cooper exchanging points before what proved to be the crucial score, O’Brien pouncing on a mistake by CIT goalkeeper Gary Minihane for his second goal.
While CIT had another long-range Barry in response, UL looked have to secured things as Morrissey, Kevin Hehir and McGrath eased them six clear, 2-18 to 3-9.
Andrew Coffey and then Kearney, with a free, brought CIT back to four and Martin’s fourth point, in the 55th minute, proved to be the final score.
There was an element of late drama, though, as CIT sub John Cashman was fouled on 57 and referee Johnny Ryan signalled a penalty. A goal then would have really made for an interesting finish but retaliation from Cashman saw the decision cancelled, with Ryan throwing the ball in instead.
While the throw-in did see possession break to Kearney for a goal chance, Maher saved well from him. With no more opportunities yielded, UL were able to safely see out the game.
Scorers – UL: K O’Brien 2-1, J McGrath 0-6 (2fs), T Morrissey, C Martin 0-4 each, B Stapleton, K Hehir, J Forde (f), B Heffernan 0-1 each. Cork IT: J Coughlan 1-3 (0-3fs), B Cooper, M Kearney 1-1 each, R Barry 0-3 (2fs), A Coffey 0-2, R Hanley 0-1.
UL – P Maher; M Casey, J Browne, A McGuane; G Hegarty, J Forde, B Stapleton; K Hehir, B Heffernan; D Fitzgerald, C Martin, J McGrath; T Heffernan, T Morrissey, K O’Brien. Subs: C McInerney for Heffernan (41), P Ryan for Hegarty (60), B Maher for O’Brien (60).
CORK IT – G Minihane; S Murphy, M Russell, C Hammersley; R Barry, M Ellis, D Noonan; K O’Neill, B Cooper; P White, J Cronin, A Coffey; J Coughlan, N McNamara, M Kearney.
Subs: K Kavanagh for Noonan (17), R Hanley for O’Neill (29), S O’Donovan for Russell (30, injured), J Cashman for McNamara (44), B Reddin for White (50).
Ref – J Ryan (Tipperary).