Friday 19 January 2018

Wall's champs outgun LIT

Mary Immaculate 0-19 LIT 0-14

Aaron Gillane of Mary Immaculate College in action against Barry O'Connell of Limerick IT Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Aaron Gillane of Mary Immaculate College in action against Barry O'Connell of Limerick IT Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

Aaron Gillane fired champions Mary Immaculate into a Fitzgibbon Cup final with IT Carlow, but manager Jamie Wall is not expecting an easy defence of their title today.

It was a powerful second-half showing from the defending champions that forced their way past Davy Fitzgerald's LIT, but with Gillane in super form from frees - he hit 12 points in total - Mary I were always going to be hard beaten.

Mary Immaculate College manager Jamie Wall Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Mary Immaculate College manager Jamie Wall Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

In today's final they will face a side ravaged by injuries with a gruelling extra-time in their legs, but Wall thinks there is little to separate the two teams.

"What a win, we are very happy. We are through to a final tomorrow against Carlow. We know them very well," said Wall.

"You have two very evenly-matched colleges that are numbers-wise, probably a lot smaller than some of the other colleges in Ireland, but who are in the middle of two very strong hurling areas.

"I personally wouldn't say there's any added pressure on us in terms of history in the competition because our history only extends as far as 2013.

Luke Meade of Mary Immaculate looks to escape Jason McCarthy of Limerick IT Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Luke Meade of Mary Immaculate looks to escape Jason McCarthy of Limerick IT Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

"There is an old saying that semi-finals are for winning and it's a cliché for a reason. It doesn't really matter how you win them but just that you do. Today it was five in the end, we were very happy. From the very start we went very well."

With Galway's Paul Killeen in good form in the tricky conditions in Dangan, LIT were a match for the champions for most of the first half. Gillane had given Mary I a 0-4 to 0-1 lead with a trio of frees by the fifth minute, but Killeen then pushed LIT ahead by the 18th minute with a run of three himself.

A great Colm Galvin point was cancelled out by Willie Connors, but despite having his penalty before half-time well saved by Jack Barry, Gillane converted the resultant '65 to give Mary I a 0-8 to 0-7 lead at the break.

Crucially, though, Mary I hit three of the next four points through Gillane, Ronan Maher and Michael O'Neill, and by the 40th minute they did exactly the same - this time Gillane bagged two either side of Galvin's score.

That had Mary I 0-15 to 0-10 ahead, and from there to the end Gillane kept the lead ticking over and LIT ran out of ideas.

Peter Duggan weighed in with two frees late on and Sean Ryan saw his shot diverted over the bar by Ronan Maher, but that was it for LIT as Mary I eased their way into the final.

"A semi-final is a semi-final it's not the be all and the end all," said Wall. "It was pure Fitzgibbon hurling and that's why we love it as much as we do. It's that kind of hurling that players love to play."

Scorers - Mary Immaculate: A Gillane 0-12 (10f, 1'65), C Galvin 0-3, D O'Donovan (sl), R Maher, M O'Neill, S Cahill 0-1 each. LIT: P Killeen 0-7 (7f), P Duggan 0-2 (2f), W Connors 0-2, D Dempsey, J McCarthy (1f), S Ryan 0-1 each.

Mary Immaculate - C Barrett; D Sweeney, R English, E Quirke; C Twomey, R Maher, A Flynn; C Galvin, S Cahill; D O'Donovan, M O'Neill, A Gillane; L Meade, C Lynch T Gallagher. Subs: T Monaghan for Gallagher (39), C Stapleton for English (44). 

Limerick IT - E Quilligan; O O'Brien, K Bennett, C Nolan; W Ryan, B O'Connell, D Byrnes; D Reidy, W Connors; P Killeen, P Duggan, S Bennett; J Shanahan, J McCarthy, D Dempsey. Subs: S Ryan for Bennett (41), A La Touche Cosgrave for Connors (53), M O'Malley for McCarthy (53), S Burke for O'Neill (54).

Ref - P O'Dwyer (Carlow)

Irish Independent

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