Conlon and Hannon keep Cregan on road to glory
EAMONN CREGAN'S Mary Immaculate College created history as they advanced to the semi-finals for the very first time.
Mary I, spearheaded by Clare's John Conlon and Limerick star Declan Hannon, defeated Dublin Institute of Technology to set up a last-four showdown with Limerick IT or Waterford IT.
Under the guidance of Limerick's 1973 All-Ireland winner Cregan (below), Mary I won the Ryan Cup last year and successfully applied to join the Fitzgibbon ranks.
And, with a hefty sprinkling of inter-county players, Mary I have emerged as the surprise packet in this year's competition.
Yesterday, at the splendid home of Parnells in Coolock, they claimed their biggest scalp to date, recovering from a sluggish start to seal the win in style.
Robert O'Donnell, who cannot force his way on to the Limerick senior panel, played superbly at full-back for Mary I, who found themselves trailing by four points twice in the first half before recovering to establish a 0-11 to 0-9 interval lead.
Little separated the two sides in the early minutes of the second half but Mary I got lucky in the 41st minute when substitute Lar Considine's attempted point dropped short but ended up trickling over the DIT goal-line as goalkeeper and captain Finn McGarry failed to deal with the dropping ball.
Considine's goal moved Mary I four points clear, 1-13 to 0-12, and it was a lead they would hold until the final whistle.
Galway star Conor Cooney, released for duty by All-Ireland club finalists St Thomas, cut a subdued figure until he fired over a superb 47th-minute point. However, Cooney will be unavailable for the finals weekend at GMIT hurling club because of the forthcoming club final against Kilcormac-Killoughey.
Kilkenny native Mike Moloney fired over six points for DIT, including five from frees, but this was a day when their big players, such as Dublin pair Liam Rushe and David Treacy, were off-colour.
Scorers – Mary I: J Conlon 0-7 (6f), D Hannon 0-5 (3 65s, 1f), L Considine 1-0, S Curran 0-2, C Galvin, L O'Farrell, B O'Halloran, C Cooney 0-1 each. DIT: M Moloney 0-6 (5f), S O'Connor, T Connolly, N Quinn, D Treacy (1f) 0-2 each, J McManus 0-1.
MARY I – S Nolan; C Fennessy, R O'Donnell, A Ryan; J Wall, D Hannon, E Hogan; C Galvin, N O'Meara; S Curran, W Hickey, C Cooney; B O'Halloran, J Conlon, L O'Farrell. Subs: L Considine for Fennessy (h-t), K Fitzgerald for Considine (55), E Hogan for Hickey (60), D O'Carroll for O'Meara (60+2).
DIT – F McGarry; J Diviney, G McManus, C O'Shaughnessy; D Curran, L Rushe, K Bergin; S Morris, S O'Connor; N Quinn, M Moloney, S Ryan; J Hobbs, T Connolly, D Treacy. Subs: L Prendergast for Morris (25), W Cullen for Ryan (40), J McManus for Hobbs (40), P Phelan for Prendergast (59).
REF–O Elliot (Antrim).