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Gaffney steers Limerick IT to final clash with city rivals

The 2009 champions crashed out yesterday as Davy Fitzgerald's Limerick IT booked a final showdown with city rivals UL.

Fitzgerald's fellow Clare native Bernard Gaffney led the scoring charge, slotting over eight points -- seven from frees -- in an entertaining semi-final.

LIT will contest their fourth final under Fitzgerald's tenure, looking to win a first crown since 2007 and a third in total.

A never-say-die attitude took them over the line after UCC had drawn level in the final quarter.

Gaffney fired LIT 0-15 to 0-11 clear with 12 minutes left but a superb goal from Luke O'Farrell hauled the Leesiders back into contention. Darach Honan saw a 20m free blocked on the LIT goal-line, but Shane Bourke's 52nd-minute point tied the scores.

LIT inched ahead again through Steven Lambert before Bourke fired a shot into the side-netting during an exciting climax.

Points from Willie Hyland and Gaffney pushed LIT three points clear, and Dean Brosnan's 56th-minute point was all that UCC could muster in response.

Neither side could establish any early dominance as LIT led by 0-6 to 0-5 after 20 minutes, but then a run of five unanswered points put the winners in control.

Ultimately, some poor wides and bad decision-making in front of goal cost UCC dear.

And so the scene is set for a repeat of the 2005 final between Limerick IT and UL, when Fitzgerald had the upper hand to claim his first Fitzgibbon crown.

SCORERS -- Limerick IT: B Gaffney 0-8 (7f), D Reale, S Lambert 0-3 each, W Hyland 0-2, P Browne, S Tobin 0-1 each. UCC: L O'Farrell 1-0, S Bourke 0-3, W Egan (1f), K Keehan (1f), D Brosnan, P Haughney (2f) 0-2 each, B O'Sullivan, G Mulcahy 0-1 each.

LIMERICK IT -- M Ryan; E Glynn, C Cone, C Cooney; J Hayes, J McInerney, J O'Keeffe; S Collins, P Browne; S Lambert, W Hyland, P O'Brien; B Gaffney, S Tobin, D Reale. Sub: C Madden for Reale (57).

UCC -- D McCarthy; C O'Sullivan, P O'Loughlan, M Cahill; J Nagle, K Moran, W Egan; S Corry, B O'Sullivan; S Bourke, K Keehan, D Brosnan; D Honan, L O'Farrell, G Mulcahy. Subs: P Haughney for Keehan (h-t), P O'Mahony for Corry (h-t), E Martin for Honan (56).

Ref --A Stapleton (Laois).

Irish Independent