Kirby lauds squad unity as UL show their mettle
UL 2-21 DCU 2-15
UL manager Gary Kirby paid tribute to the composure and quality of his squad as the college won its sixth Fitzgibbon Cup, and third in five years, on Saturday.
Against first-time finalists DCU in Mallow, UL were unbackable favourites but found themselves facing a tough challenge in the first half before Jason Forde's goal - part of a 1-10 tally for the Tipperary star - put them into a lead they wouldn't lose.
A 1-11 to 1-9 half-time lead was built upon in the second period and a second goal from Pat Ryan late on made sure of the win.
"The first half was all about staying in it," Kirby said, "they had that bit of a breeze and they had a run on us.
"When they got the goal, we came back, we got a few good points and Jason Forde in the full-forward line with his few frees, I think that kept us in the game in the first half."
UL led 0-6 to 0-5 after Forde put them ahead with a free on 15 minutes, his fourth point of the afternoon, but DCU won a penalty when John Donnelly was fouled and Patrick Curran duly converted.
Joe O'Connor added a point but UL struck back strongly again. They hit the front when Tom Morrissey, Barry Murphy and John McGrath combined to set up Forde for a goal and Forde's seventh point ensured they led by two at the interval.
"We've guys who have All-Irelands at senior, U21 and minor, so composure isn't in question with them," Kirby said.
"They know how to come good, it was a matter of keeping sticking at what they were doing and working at it and it would come right for us. That showed in the second half, they took the points when it was needed.
"The second goal put it to bed, it was a lovely move. They've been doing that all year, they've been playing very well as a unit. No matter what county they were with, they mixed well together.
"I have to compliment the three main managers in Clare, Limerick and Tipp, they were very helpful and very understanding in the way they looked after the players."
UL were able to ease clear as they took their points, outscoring DCU by 0-8 to 0-2 between the 33rd and 48th minutes, with man of the match David Fitzgerald scoring two from wing-back and Tony Kelly and Ronan Lynch also making contributions.
Murphy's goal made the game safe and though DCU did manage a second goal in injury time, Conor Burke the scorer, there was no denying UL.
Scorers - UL: J Forde 1-10 (8f, 1 65), P Ryan 1-0, J McGrath, K O'Brien, D Fitzgerald, R Lynch 0-2 each, T Kelly, G Hegarty, I Galvin 0-1 each. DCU: D Burke 0-9 (7f), P Curran (penalty), C Bourke 1-0 each, K Doyle, J O'Connor, C Delaney, P Hogan, J Donnelly, D Mullen 0-1 each.
UL - D McCarthy; A McGuane, C Cleary, S Finn; B Heffernan, G Hegarty, D Fitzgerald; T Kelly, R Lynch; I Galvin, K O'Brien, T Morrissey; J McGrath, J Forde, B Murphy. Subs: M Casey for McGuane (36), P Ryan for O'Brien (47), D Gleeson for Murphy (57), B Troy for Finn (59), J Henleyfor Fitzgerald (60).
DCU - O Foley; C McSweeney, E O'Donnell, P O'Dea; A Maddock, C Delaney, P Foley; J O'Connor, D Mullen; F Whitely, R McBride, D Burke; J Donnelly, P Hogan, P Curran. Subs: D Grey for O'Connor (30, injured), K Doyle for Hogan (36), E Conroy for Foley (47), C Burke for Whitely (51).
Ref - F Horgan (Tipperary).