Cork hurler Mark Coleman on why second Fitzgibbon success was so sweet

Cork hurler Mark Coleman on why second Fitzgibbon success was so sweet
Mark Coleman of UCC gathers possession ahead of team-mate Conor Boylan and Rory Higgins of IT Carlow in the Fitzgibbon Cup final. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

UCC’s Mark Coleman said that composure was the key to the Leesiders retaining their Fitzgibbon Cup title in DCU on Wednesday night.

Tom Kingston’s men had to overcome considerable adversity over the course of the contest.

In addition to leaking early goals to IT Carlow attackers Seamus Casey and Liam Blanchfield, they also lost defender Niall O’Leary to a red-card in the closing-quarter.

At that stage, they were three points down but outscored DJ Carey’s charges five points to one across the closing 10 minutes and almost six minutes of injury time to prevail. 

Darragh Fitzgibbon and a Shane Conway free nudged the College two up before a last-gasp Enda Rowland free was deflected over the bar via joint-captain Paddy O’Loughlin’s helmet.

“We always knew there was going to be a threat of goals. It was just a matter of staying calm and not overreacting to them really.

“Sticking to our game plan. That’s what we did and kept tipping away. We did well to be going in at half-time only four points down,” the Blarney club man explained.

“I think that was the key and we kept ourselves in the game and never really panicked.

“We just clawed them back in the end. To be fair to IT Carlow they really put it up to us. With a man down, it was just a test of our character really. We just really had to dig it out.

“The boys up front, they’ve been doing the business for us all year. We try and do the hard work, get the ball into them. To be fair, they always deliver.”

In stark contrast to their routine victory over Mary Immaculate College, Limerick in the 2019 decider, UCC were made to work for their eventual one-point success, 0-18 to 2-11, at the north Dublin venue.

It was the same tally they hit in last weekend’s semi-final against DCU when Coleman’s soaring sideline gave them an 0-18 to 0-17 victory.

Because of the drama against Carlow, Coleman acknowledges this year’s triumph eclipses what they achieved 12 months earlier.

“There’s definitely a better buzz after the final this year. Last year we won it by a good few points in the end. To win by a point is just unbelievable.

“It’s nice to back up last year’s one.”

It sets the Cork-UCC contingent up neatly for the rest of the league, with O’Leary, Coleman, Fitzgibbon, Shane Kingston, Robert Downey and Robbie O’Flynn all vital to the Rebels’ prospects in 2020.

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